The Marist mission in Tonga began in 1842 with the arrival of Fr. Joseph Chevron and Br. Attale Grimaud. They began their missionary efforts at Pea on Tongatapu.
After 5 years they shifted to Mu’a. There was a period of great difficulty and persecution, including the attack by Methodists on the mission at Pea. Fr. Chevron was not deterred and he continued his work in Tonga for 42 years.
Br. Attale died during the period of difficulty and was the first Marist to be buried in Tonga.
As further Marists were appointed to Tonga the early beginnings were consolidated.
Fr. Armand Lamaze began an educational institution at Ma’ufaga. He was ordained Bishop in 1879 and was the vicar Apostolic for Central Oceania. This Vicariate included Wallis and Futuna. He made serious efforts towards the training of local clergy.
In 1912, Fr. Joseph Blanc was ordained Bishop and vicar Apostolic. He contributed much through making catechetical, hymnal and historical materials available in the Tongan language.
Over the years the Marists established over 15 stations, including in the Ha’apai and Vava’u groups, and in the even more isolated islands of Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu.
Fr. Patelisio Finau SM became the first indigenous Tonga to be ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Tonga.
The necrology of Oceania Marist Province shows that more than 50 Marist missionaries, now deceased, worked in the Region of Tonga.
There are 7 Marists in Tonga and one is working in Niue. One is retired. All of them are Oceanians.
Where we work
We work in the Parish of Longoteme and at the Apifoou College. One has a contract with the Diocese for St Joseph’s parish at Niue, and one is doing specific ministries.