Cardinal Soane Mafi, 53, was among 20 men Pope Francis will make cardinals at a consistory in Rome Feb. 14. He is the youngest cardinal in the church.
Two members from the Tongan community in the Diocese of Phoenix are reported to be there for the occasion. The local Tongan community is rather young too. Parents and grandparents cared for lots of newborns and infants in the pews.
Children made up roughly half the choir during the latest monthly Tongan Mass, which is celebrated the last Sunday of each month at Resurrection Parish in Tempe. They lead intercessions of the faithful in Tongan Jan. 25 and received a medallion of the Blessed Mother as is customary every January on the island. The children wear them around their neck for protection all year long.
Here are some of their sounds:
Music is a vital part of the heavily Christian, tiny island of Tonga. Choirs can be heard singing on any day of the week, according to an Associated Press article. It also says that the islanders are happy about the new Catholic cardinal, even if they’re not Catholic. The island’s king, who is Wesleyan Methodist, hoped to be there for the occasion.
Learn more about Cardinal Mafi from Hawaii Catholic Herald. Tonga lies some 3,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. Roughly 50 of its 176 islands are inhabited, the newspaper reported. An article from “Crux” reported that the bishop had to travel almost 11,000 miles via four airplane connections to arrive in Rome for his big day.