Family and community are an integral part of Samoan culture — and for Pete Opetaia and his family, this has extended to the entire Holy Apostles Parish community. Over the past 30 years, serving the parish through various ministries has been a way to grow in faith, as well as give back to God and the community.
“In our life back in the islands, we were so involved in serving our family and serving our community — that’s always been a part of me,” Pete says. “I see the amazing parishioners here and the parish really has that family feeling to it. I always like to look at how I can better mimic the life of Jesus in terms of serving people, so that’s how I started to get plugged in.”
“The church was looking for people who could sing, and so I started by joining the 9 a.m. Mass choir,” he adds. “Back home (in Samoa), I was leading the choir from a very young age, so it was easy for me to get involved and serve Jesus through our music ministry. From there, I started gathering my family who lives around here — my brother, my sister-in-law, my nieces and nephews — and created the Tautua Choir. ‘Tautua’ means ‘to serve,’ and we have been singing as a family in this choir for 22 years.”
The Tautua choir has 33 total members, all from Pete’s family. They sing at the 7 a.m. Sunday Mass, in the Samoan language — as Pete says, they sing the same parts of the Mass as the 9:00 and 12:00 Masses, but with “a little island twist.” They also serve at Easter and Christmas Masses each year, as well as the Feast Day of Divine Mercy. In the past, they have also performed for parish fundraisers, such as a 2019 concert for the parish’s capital campaign.
“That was fun because we not only got to sing, but we also got to perform Polynesian native dances,” Pete says. “We were able to rally up the family and perform the dances and sing praise and worship to God, utilizing important parts of our culture.”
Pete also has a special devotion to the Divine Mercy, which was introduced to him by his uncle in 2000.
“I went deep within the message of Jesus in the diary of St. Faustina,” he says. “It has transformed my spiritual life and really made me realize how much Christ loves us. It kind of trickled down from my uncle to me, and then from me to the rest of the family, and I’ve seen the oceans of mercy moving all the way to our island nation. I really can see Divine Mercy making its way around and bringing souls very close to Christ, and it really highlights the mission of Christ to serve one another.”
In 2005, Pete, his family, and other parishioners started a Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy cenacle group at the parish. Members of the cenacle get together to pray, discuss the message of Divine Mercy, and share that message with others. For many years, the cenacle members prayed specifically for the establishment of a Perpetual Adoration Chapel at the parish, and that prayer finally came to fruition. Pete has found the practice of adoration in the chapel to be very spiritually enriching.
“I take the 1 a.m. slot on Saturday night/Sunday morning, and it’s the most fulfilling time to get to spend with Jesus,” he says. “I would call down anybody and everybody to visit Jesus in Perpetual Adoration. He really is inviting everyone to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. It has really enhanced my spiritual life — it’s just been amazing.”
Pete really appreciates the Holy Apostles community and looks forward to continuing the journey together with his parish family.
“I am grateful the Holy Spirit guided me and my family to Holy Apostles,” he says. “When you look at everyone in the community, even though we have very diverse backgrounds, we are all one family. With all the gifts we have to share, there is no better way to use them than to serve one another and bring each other the light of Christ.
“I just love Jesus, and I hope that my family and all the parishioners get to fall in love with Him too,” he adds. “I encourage all parishioners to dig deep because Jesus is calling all of us to be apostles of hope, mercy, and especially His love. He is waiting to create that personal relationship with each one of us.”