A young Samoan Methodist who had a role in the prayer service with Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva says it is significant that young people were chosen to read prayers and messages.
“It shows that we are being recognized, acknowledged and heard,” says Toai Metanoia Tumaai-Vaauli.
Tumaai-Vuaali is one of eight young people selected to read and pray with the Pope and WCC leaders during a prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre on 21 June.
The young mother and part-time law student notes that the text she read as part of the intercessory prayer was particularly significant to her family history. The passage refers to Jesus’ early life as an immigrant and refugee and calls for the members of God’s family to welcome those who are escaping poverty, persecution and war.
“My mother’s parents were among the first Samoans to emigrate to New Zealand about 70 years ago,” says the young ecumenist. “The issue of migration is still very relevant today as the cost of living goes up in Samoa and people can’t find employment. Some are blessed to be accepted in countries like Australia and New Zealand.”
When told she would have a role to play in the ecumenical prayer service, Tumaai-Vuaali was excited and honoured.
“When I go home I will be able to tell people that I was in the same room as the Pope!” she exclaims.