Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 11
Vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania

by Joseph Felix Blanc


The whole of Oceania had at first been entrusted by the Propaganda to the Society of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1825); but the territory proving too large, the western portion was afterwards formed into a vicariate Apostolic and given to the Society of Mary (1836), Mgr Pompallier being appointed vicar Apostolic of Western Oceania. In 1842, the Propaganda created the vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania, comprising New Caledonia, the Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji Islands. By a further subdivision, the vicariate included only the Tonga, the Wallis Islands, Futuna, and Niué. The Tonga Islands extend from 15† to 22† S. lat. and from 173† to 176† W. long. Niué is three hundred miles to the east. The Wallis Islands lie in 13† S. lat. and 178† W. long.; Futuna, in 40† 14' S. lat. and 179† 33' W. long. These archipelagos are divided among several more or less constitutional monarchies; the Kingdoms of Tonga, Niué, Wallis, and the two Kingdoms of Futuna. Tonga and Niué are under British protectorate, Wallis and Futuna, under French. Freedom of worship is theoretically recognized everywhere except in Niué, which is exclusively Protestant. Wallis and Futuna are entirely Catholic. In Tonga there are Catholics, Methodists belonging to the Sydney conference, independent Methodists forming a national Church, some Anglicans, Adventists, and Mormons. The total population is 34,000, with 9200 Catholics. There are 35 churches; 21 European and 1 native Marist priests, and 3 native secular priests; 28 schools with 2039 children; 2 colleges; 1 seminary. The establishments for girls are under the care of 52 Sisters of the Third Order of Mary. The boys' schools are conducted by native lay teachers; the colleges and the seminary by priests. The islands are divided into districts, with resident missionaries who assemble every month for an ecclesiastical conference. There are annual retreats for the priests, for the sisters, and for the catechists, besides general retreats for the faithful about every two years. In each village there is a sodality of men (Kan Apositolo) and another of women (Fakafeao). The yearly number of baptisms averages 310; of marriages, 105. Mgr Bataillon was the first vicar Apostolic, succeeded by Mgr Lamaze, at whose death (1906) succeeded his coadjutor, Mgr Amand Olier, S.M., the present (1910) vicar Apostolic. The vicariate has given to the Church the proto-martyr of Oceania, Bl. P. Chanel.

MANGERET, Mgr Bataillon et les missions de l'Océanie Centrale (Lyons, 1884); MONFAT, Les Tonga (Lyons, 1893); HERVIER, Les Missions Maristes en Océanie (Paris, 1902); NICOLET, Le Martyr de Futuna (Boston, 1907); Proceedings of the First Australasian Catholic Congress (Sydney, 1900); SOANE MALIA, Chez les Méridionaux du Pacifique (Lyons and Paris, 1910).

JOSEPH BLANC