Vili and Mele Tautuiaki presented the gifts of bread and wine at the bishop's installation Mass.
All: JOSÉ LUIS AGUIRRE/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
A hello in their native language
Mele Tautuiaki was pleased and surprised when Bishop Barber spoke to her in Tongan.
When Mele Tautuiaki and her husband Vili presented the gifts of bread and wine to the new bishop of Oakland during his installation Mass on May 25, they were in for a surprise.
They approached the altar wearing traditional Tongan garments — Mele in a kiekie, an ornamental girdle worn over a formal dress, and Vili in a taovala, a finely woven mat worn around the waist.
The bishop smiled at the couple, and said, "Malo e leilei."
"He said, in our language, 'hello,'" said the pleased and surprised Mele Tautuiaki.
"I think he remembers the islands," she said, after learning that the bishop had worked in Samoa.
Mele Tautuiaki, a graduate of the School of Pastoral Ministry, is a catechist in the Tonga community that meets at St. Bernard Church in Oakland. The Tautuiakis' home parish is St. Elizabeth, but many weekends you will find them in parishes throughout the Bay Area where the Tonga community rotates its celebrations, including All Saints in Hayward, St. Peter Martyr in Pittsburg, St. Stephen in Walnut Creek and St. Vincent in Vallejo.
When Mele Tautuiaki saw the bishop again, at the Church of the Assumption in San Leandro, she asked for a blessing.
She received one, in Samoan.
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