Apostolic Vicariate of Fiji
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The Fiji Islands were included in the territory of the old Vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania, created by Propaganda Fide in 1842. The first Catholic mission in Fiji was founded in 1844, and on 10 March 1863, the territory was erected into a prefecture Apostolic. On 5 May 1887, the vicariate was established and entrusted to the Marist fathers. The first Apostolic vicar was the Right Rev. Julian Vidal, D.D., S.M., titular Bishop of Abydos (consecrated 27 December 1887). Catholic missions soon were established on the islands Viti Levu, Ovalau, Vanua Levu, Tavenui, Kavavu and Rotuma, the official residence of the vicar Apostolic being at Suva on Viti Levu.
The statistics for the vicariate showed in the early 20th century, for about 250 islands, of which some 90 are inhabited; its total land area is 7,435 square miles (19,260 km2), while the population in 1911 was 139,541 (3,707 Europeans; 87,096 autochthonous Fijians -of Melanesian (Papuan) stock, much crossed with Polynesian strains-; 4,286 Indians; the remainder of other eastern races): 30 priests (Marist Fathers), tending 18 central stations and 273 villages; 11 Little Brothers of Mary (Marist Brothers), in charge of a boarding and day school at Suva, a seminary and college at Cawaci and an English school for natives at Rewa; 24 European and 31 native Sisters of the Third Order of Mary (with 14 houses; novitiate at Solevu), conducting the majority of schools for girls; 8 sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny (2 houses), conducting the parochial school at Suva; 10 Sisters of the Holy Name of Mary (Marist Sisters), in charge of the school and orphanage at Levuka, a school at Ba, and assist the Marist brothers in the seminary and college at Cawaci; 12 native brothers (novitiate at Loretto) in 4 communities. The English college at Cawaci for the training of catechists and the children of the chiefs had 42 catechists, 80 boys and 12 girls. In the central stations the Marist brothers and sisters taught reading, writing etc., as well as religion, to 500 boys and 450 girls, while in the villages 315 catechists give elementary instruction to about 2000 children. The churches and chapels numbered 65, and the total -minoritarian- Catholic population about 12,000 (300 Europeans). A station for lepers was conducted on Makogai Island by one Marist father and two sisters of the Third Order of Mary.
In 1966 it was promoted as Metropolitan Archdiocese of Suva, which has three suffragans on other island states: Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Tarawa (Kiribati) and Nauru (both last-named states are independent).
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Coyle, Moira K. (1913). "Vicariate Apostolic of Fiji". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 16. New York: Robert Appleton.