At his Angelus address on Jan. 4 Pope Francis announced the appointment of 20 cardinals, among whom are two representatives from Oceania: Archbishop John Dew of Wellington, and Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga.

They will be made cardinals at a consistory held in the Vatican Feb. 14.

"We are in the vacation season celebrating the joy of Christmas and the appointment of Archbishop John Dew of Wellington (as cardinal) is a proud moment and has brought us great joy," Dame Lyndsay Freer, head of social communications at the Archdiocese of Auckland, told CNA Jan. 5.

Hearing the announcement, Archbishop Dew said, "I'm honoured and humbled to be given this new task in my priestly vocation and in representing the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and the region in the global Church."

"Although we are geographically far from much of the world, Pope Francis has gone to the periphery of the world to name new cardinals."

The archbishop also noted that "this news is recognition of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and the contribution it makes to the global Catholic family."

Further congratulating Bishop Mafi, the archbishop added, "I'm delighted to hear that Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga has also been named in the list; together it is not only great news for New Zealand and Tonga, but for the Oceania region."

Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland commented that "it is a great blessing for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand, and for the people of Tonga and our Tongan community that Bishop Soane Mafi is to be their new cardinal."

"As we congratulate Cardinal John and Cardinal Soane, let us keep them in our prayers that they will be richly blessed in the new responsibilities to which they have been called."

Fr. Line Folaumoeloa, chaplain for the ethnic Tongan community in Auckland, told CNA Jan. 5, "it is a tremendous joy and honor for us in the small remote South Pacific of Oceania to have a first Tongan cardinal."

"We thank Pope Francis for acknowledging the universality and diversity in the Church, and for the gift of two cardinals from Oceania."

Fr. Line described that the Tongan community has been very active in the apostolate mission of the Church and has given large number of missionary vocations who are serving in the different parts of the world.

Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi was born in 1961 in Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, a Polynesian island nation located northeast of New Zealand. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji.

He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tonga in 1991, where he served in parishes and as vicar general. He studied psychology at Loyola College in Baltimore, and served as a professor, formator, and vice rector of Fiji's Pacific Regional Seminary.

He was consecrated a bishop in 2007, serving as the Tonga diocese's coadjutor. He succeeded as its ordinary in 2008. He is president of the Pacific bishops conference, and took part in the extraordinary Synod on the Family in 2014.

He told Catholic San Francisco when he was appointed a coadjutor bishop that "It's exciting. I'm the bishop now, the shepherd … it makes me a little uneasy at the same time, because I want to be myself. It's kind of a mixed feeling, excited but at the same time overwhelming. Now I belong to everybody."

Archbishop John Atcherly Dew was born in Waipawa in 1948, and was educated at St Joseph's School, Waipukurau. He completed his ecclesiastical studies at Holy Name Seminary at Christchurch and Holy Cross National Seminary of Mosgiel.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Wellington in 1976, serving in parishes as well as being the archdiocesan youth minister and a chaplain to the Maori community. He also studied at the St. Anselm Institute in England.

In 1995 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Wellington Archdiocese, and in 2004 was appointed its coadjutor. He succeeded as ordinary in 2005, and was the same year appointed bishop of New Zealand's military ordinariate, as well.

He is president of the New Zealand bishops conference and of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania.

Archbishop Dew told New Zealand journalists Katie Chapman and Michael Field Jan. 5 that "my main responsibility is as the Archbishop of Wellington and ... that won't change." He added that he became a priest because "I needed to be doing something that would make a difference to the lives of others ... the call of the gospel was the only way that made sense for me."

During the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, Archbishop Dew gave an intervention on Oct. 4 suggesting that the divorced and remarried could be admitted to Communion.

He also participated in 2014's Synod on the Family; he told Vatican Radio Oct. 10 that "overall there is a great sense of hope not that things are going to change immediately, but that at least we can talk about some of these issues that in the past we haven't been able to talk about," adding that "nine years ago at the Synod on the Eucharist I talked about the possibility of communion for the divorced and remarried and got a lot of criticism. Now at this Synod its being talked about openly by many, many people."