By Matang M. Rotitaake, Columban Seminarian
My name is Matang, and I am 24 years of age. My biological parents are Moaniba Rotitaake and Tokanikaiatetaanga Tumeka. I was adopted by Maeke Batiata and Eritia Ibeata. I come from the island of Kiribati (pronounced as Ki-ri-baz), also known as Gilbert Island, in the Micronesian region of the Pacific (Oceania). The life I lived while growing up was all about simplicity and was uniquely related to my traditional way of life, living with my family and friends.
My call to the Columbans started in secondary school. I recall a moment when one of the Columban priests, Fr. Frank Hoare, visited my school and promoted Columban vocations among all the young male students. He presented us with magazines and showcased videos about the Columban Missionaries, showing their missions across various parts of the world.
Following Fr. Hoare’s presentation, I suddenly sensed a strong calling to join them as I was deeply moved by their missionary way of life. However, I could not join them at that time because I was young and had not finished my studies yet. Later on, another Columban priest, Fr. William Lee, visited Kiribati and I shared with him my desire of joining the Columbans. I was intrigued by their missionary way of life and their charism especially their work on Justice/Peace and Integrity of creation, Inter-religious dialogue, solidarity with the poor, providing education for the poor, and Evangelization.
I am now in my second year of formation, and I go to Loyola School of Theology for my academic studies. My favorite subject is philosophy. I discovered that it is the fundamental nature of knowledge which will help me grow my understanding of the natural world. Hence, philosophy doesn’t need many answers; instead, it relies on questions to encourage critical thinking about things beyond my grasp, working to expand my understanding across various subjects. However, philosophy is not only a love of wisdom but also a willingness to learn and experience things that will help me to understand different kinds of phenomena and encourage me to overcome and make meaning of my life. I find it important to learn philosophy because it will prepare me well for my theology classes in the years ahead. I also like to read poems because I have found many important messages and symbolisms related to real life.
It is a great experience for me to recognize very special and important things which have been prepared for me such as my education, physical needs, etc. Living in the formation house with my formators and brothers represents a significant transition for me as I experience different kinds of people, cultures, and new environments. I have learned a lot from them, and I am truly grateful.
I hope that my dreams and vocation will materialize, enabling me to fulfill my aspiration of becoming a Columban missionary priest one day.
Matang (right) pictured with his fellow seminarians following their retreat, marking the commencement of a new school year. The retreat was guided by Fr. Jovito Dales SSC (front, left).