Saturday, July 21, 2012

Farewell James Latu

from w
This morning Peceli woke me up before 6 a.m. so that we could drive to Melbourne for a Tongan funeral which would commence at 8 a.m.. Canterbury Uniting Church has a large Tongan congregation and hundreds had gathered, many from Sydney, and New Zealand. Rev James (Semesi) Latu we have known for about thirty years since the time he was studying for the ministry in Melbourne.His wife Susana had parents in Geelong in our congregation then, David and Ofa Prescott.  Today's funeral was done very well, though it didn't finish until after 11 a.m. with many long tributes so that there was little time for the choirs and singing. There were fine tributes from the children - the best speeches. It's good to hear the many stories of course that fill in the gap of our knowledge of people. The Tongans mainly were dressed in black and wore their distinctive tauvale waist-mats and close relatives had enormous mats almost covering their whole bodies. A touching moment was when Angela the daughter made a tearful speech and her mother walked out and wiped the tears then told us of the last days of James and how she felt compelled to go up to the hospital and sing to him. When Susana started singing that song to us, our congregation softly joined in and that was a touching moment. We didn't go on to the cemetery or go to the feast.

On the way home we drove via Footscray Market where we had a delicious Chinese lunch then bought vegetables and fruit.  Today is Peceli's birthday so that was our task for the day. Tonight we are drinking kava and one of the boys has gone out to buy pizza with the lot!  Happy birthday Peceli!

One piece on the internet about James comes from the Multicultural Commission.

Rev Semisi (James Latu)
ยท         Tuesday, 17 July 2012
The Reverend Semisi Latu, also known as James Latu, passed away Saturday 14th July 2012. His life, his ministry, his great dedication to God's work, his great contribution to Tongan National Conference, and ministry among the Tongan and non-Tongan people that touched so many lives will be remembered and greatly missed.
Please read below the letter of condolance from Rev Dr Tony Floyd, National Director of Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry to those who knew and loved him...
 Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, This news is sudden indeed. I want to express the grateful thanks of the diverse communities across the breadth of this UCA for the wise, passionate, faithful and gifted ministry of Semisi Latu. He, Susana and their family have been gracious and loving colleagues and friends from their first day in this country, the Methodist and now Uniting churches. His contribution to multicultural and cross-cultural ministry through Assembly, Synods, Presbyteries and congregations has borne and will bear much fruit to the glory of God whom he and Susana love so dearly and serve so faithfully. To the TNC, its members and congregations, we send our prayers and love
Grace and peace
Revd Dr Tony Floyd
National Director


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