Fiaailetoa is First Pacific Islander to be Appointed Chaplain for a major Australian Hospital

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Fia'ailetoa Ken Moala is the first Pacific Islander to be appointed chaplain for a major Australian hospital. (Image: Facebook)

From championing marginalised groups including LGBTQI communities and the elderly to people living rough, Pastor Fia’ailetoa Ken Moala’s chaplaincy has helped people facing all sorts of challenges.

But the unexpected benefit is what this work has given back to him.

The first Pacific Islander to be appointed as chaplain for a major Australian hospital, he said his work as a chaplain had helped him regain his own faith in Christianity.

“I had [my own] personal experiences with the death of my brother, my sister, and my parents,” he told Pacific Soul.

“You know … sometimes you reflect on that. And I think it’s built me up to be more stronger.”

 

Religion plays a primary role in many Pacific island nations, something Fia’ailetoa knows first-hand. Hailing from the villages of Lalomauga, Lufilufi, Saipipi and Lepā, he spent much of his time growing up in the islands of Samoa.

“Even before the arrival of the Europeans, there was some sort of spiritual structure before the missionaries came to the Pacific,” he said.

“I grew up attached to a church. It was a sense of belonging. Everyone went to church … in fact, two to three times every Sunday.

“It was part of the rituals, it was also part of the upbringing. [But] … it’s important [to distinguish], being religious does not make you spiritual.”

Modern society ‘tends to neglect people’

As part of his work, Fia’ailetoa has spent plenty of time in nursing homes, and there’s a noticeable contrast between cultural norms from his heritage and working in a modern Western setting.

“The idea is to go and give comfort and give support to those who need it,” he said.

“I’ve been working in aged care … And what I’ve noticed is quite different to the Pacific concept of looking after your elders. It brings a tear to my eye when I see that sometimes none of the families will visit their elderly folk in hospitals or in nursing homes.

“I think society, the way it is, you know, very modern, tends to neglect people.

“I think we need to be looking after all sections of society that need our attention. And I get a real sense of knowing that the presence of the divine or the presence of God is with me when I go to visit people because it actually puts a smile on their faces.”

    Fia’ailetoa Ken Moala is the first Pacific Islander to be appointed chaplain for a major Australian hospital. (Image: Facebook)