A priest from the Polynesian country of Tonga has translated two Vatican documents into his native tongue, so as to deepen the faith life of his compatriots.
“It is important to have the primary materials of faith in local languages so that the people can enter into a deeper dialogue with the teachings of faith that can touch the heart,” Fr. Lines Folamoelao, the translator, who is a priest of the Diocese of Tonga, told CNA Dec 14.
“This is to help the faithful to continue to carry on the fervor of the Year of Faith.”
Fr. Folamoelao, who is serving as chaplain to the 9,000 Catholic Tongan migrants in the Auckland diocese of New Zealand, released his translations of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of Pope Francis' first encyclical, “Lumen fidei,” at the close of the Year of Faith on Nov. 24.
All the printed copies of Fr. Folamoelao's translations have been acquired already, and he plans a second edition to meet demand.
“It has been my hobby to translate Papal encyclicals and works of the social teaching of the Church into the Tongan language so that our people can read and follow the teachings of the Church,” he said, adding that he now plans to translate “Evangelii gaudium,” Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the new evangelization.
Fr. Folamoelao is a polyglot, able to speak Tongan, Fijian, English, French, German, some Hindi, and the classical languages Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He attended seminary in Fiji, and holds a licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Tonga is an island nation in the South Pacific, located near Fiji and Samoa, with a population of 103,000. It's official languages are English and Tongan, an Austronesian language. Many Tongans have emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Nearly the entire population is Christian.
The Diocese of Tonga serves the entire country, where there are more than 13,000 Catholics, or about 13 percent of the population.