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Catholic community gears up for arrival of new coadjutor bishop

Wednesday 17 April 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Church Talk, Features, Local, National


Catholic community gears up for arrival of new coadjutor bishop
Musicians hold combine practice for the ordination of the incoming coadjutor bishop Father Reynaldo Bunyi Getalado to be held next week. CDRC/24041625

The newly appointed coadjutor bishop arrives in Rarotonga tonight to assist the retiring Bishop before eventually succeeding him.

Father Reynaldo Bunyi Getalado of the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) is scheduled to arrive in Rarotonga tonight ahead of his ordination as the new coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands to be held next week.

He will be spending some private time with his family, who are travelling with him from the Philippines

Fr. Getalado has been serving as an MSP missionary to the Mission Sui Iuris of Funafuti, the capital island nation of Tuvalu.

He was appointed coadjutor of Rarotonga by Pope Francis in December 2023.

On Saturday, April 27, the Catholics will be hosting the ordination ceremony for Fr Getalado as the diocese’s new coadjutor bishop – a helper to the current Bishop Paul Patrick Donoghue.

As coadjutor bishop, Fr. Getalado will succeed Bishop Donoghue upon his retirement. Bishop Donoghue is now 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops.

Being the chief shepherd (spiritual leader) of the diocese, the bishop is responsible for the pastoral care of all Catholics living in the Cook Islands.

Fr. Getalado will be given time to work alongside the existing Bishop. This will allow him to get to know the Cook Islands, the Catholic Diocese, and the responsibilities of the role before taking it on himself.

There has been no time limit set for him to get familiar with the work involved here.

The retiring Bishop Paul Donoghue pictured on January 19, 2024, a day after his 75th birthday. MELINA ETCHES/24041626

The retiring Bishop Donoghue is also not rushing off anywhere soon and will be able to give the coadjutor bishop the amount of time he needs.

In 2011, Bishop Donoghue was ordained a bishop. A week after his ordination, his predecessor Bishop Stuart O’Connell, the fifth Catholic Bishop of Rarotonga (1996–2011), left Rarotonga for medical reasons.

Bishop Donoghue has offered his resignation to Pope Francis, as required by Church Law. Since the Pope hasn’t replied yet, Bishop Donoghue will continue his duties until a decision is made.

In the meantime, Rarotonga’s Catholic diocese, led by its hardworking steering committee, has been making preparations for the ordination mass and ceremony for the past six weeks.

Four bishops from overseas will be attending the ordination: two from Tahiti, a bishop from Saipan who is president of all the bishops in the Pacific, and one from Apia, Western Samoa. Around 10 priests will also be present.

Bishop Donoghue is delighted to know that the bishops from Tahiti will be attending, considering the first bishop of the Cook Islands was Msgr Castanie (1894–1939) from Tahiti/France, who established the Catholic Church in the Cook Islands.

Representatives from the southern group islands of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, and Mitiaro will be flying in for the ordination. A couple from Manihiki and two groups from Aotearoa, New Zealand are also expected to attend this event.

In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and leading the Catholic community in a particular area, called a diocese.

The Cook Islands form one diocese in the church and the official name of the diocese is taken from the place where the bishop resides and has his cathedral. Hence, the Cook Islands diocese is referred to by Catholics as the Diocese of Rarotonga.