LCM Kingdom of Tonga
1972 – The Bishop of the Diocese of Tonga invites the Little Company of Mary Sisters in Aotearoa New Zealand to establish a community in the Kingdom of Tonga (Tonga).
1974 – Two Sisters carried the spirit of Calvary to this new mission, with courage, hope and faith. Upon arrival, the Sisters were given a wonderful welcome by the Tongan people, especially those in the village of Pea, and by priests and religious of the Diocese of Tonga.
1975 – The Sisters soon established a general medical clinic which was situated on the ground floor of the parish church building in Pea. The medical clinic was named “Kalevale Clinic” (Kalevale is “Calvary” in Tongan), and this was formally blessed by the late Bishop Patelisio Finau.
1977 – The Sisters moved into the newly built Kalevale Convent at Pea, near to the Kalevale Clinic. The Tonga-based Sisters still live in and work from the Kalevale Convent.
1980’s – In response to the need for treatment of glue-ear in the children of Tonga the Kalevale Ear Clinic was established by the Sisters. Children came from all over Tonga for treatment of glue ear, and adults also started to attend for other hearing conditions. A specialised microscope was donated by the Newmarket Rotary Club in New Zealand, which increased the service and treatments the Sisters could offer.
“The Pea clinic was a joy to behold. They realised the serious problem of chronic ear infections and organised sponsorship for an ear microscope and suction to be installed at their clinic. They became a ‘specialist clinic’ for children, and adults with draining ears (the famous ‘telinga supo’) and the hospital would refer patients to them for great care. Of course, they did lots more than that, in terms of general consultations and care of the local community.”
Over time, there were changes in the medical regulations in Tonga, and a hospital-based Ear Nose and Throat service was developed. The Kalevale Clinic was eventually closed.
2000 – The Sisters established a school clinic at Api-fo’ou College. The clinic was initially set up in a converted classroom, to provide pupils with a holistic approach to health and learning.
2004 – The college wished to expand the health and learning service, the Little Company of Mary donated the Mary Potter School Clinic. The Little Company of Mary, Api-fo’ou College, Ministry of Health and the Maa Lahi (WHO independent initiatives) collaborated to pioneer this first Health Promoting School Clinic in Tonga.
2005 – A Sister set up health clinics and trained local health aides in two other schools on Tongatapu.
2010 – LCM sponsored two students to undertake nursing training at the Queen Salote Nursing School at Vaiola. At the end of 2010, ownership of the Mary Potter Health Centre at ‘Api Fo’ou College was handed over to the College.
2016 – One Sister from Tonga lived and worked with the LCM Sisters in Korea.
2017 – First year of the “Mary Potter Certificate IV in Counselling”. This ongoing training programme, offered via the Catholic Education Office in Tonga, continues to be sponsored each year by the Little Company of Mary.
2018 – February – Cyclone Gita caused widespread damage across much of Tonga and the Pacific. Sisters helped the Tonga Diocese and local High School recover from the cyclone with special work and donations. Later in the year two mission trips were completed to outlying Islands.
2019 – Sister’s Final Profession. Sisters go on a six-week mission trip to outer island of Niuafo’ou.
Today – The LCM spirit continues in Tonga. The Sisters’ ministry is now expressed through visiting prisoners at the Hu’atolitoli Prison, providing Chaplaincy at Vaiola Hospital, supporting older people in their own homes, working with women and children in crisis, making pastoral visitations and participating in the life of the Parish of Pea.
Truly women who live the words– “Let us be instruments God can use at any moment.”
– Venerable Mary Potter.