Bernard Saverio (RCIA Instructor), Bobby, Fr Pat Colgan, Catechist Sevanaca and village head man Kolumbano (‘Columban’) after Bobby’s baptism.
Atil Kumar Singh (aka ‘Bobby) is an Indo-Fijian carpenter who lives beside a Fijian village called Natunuku, in the parish of Christ the King, Ba. He was a Hindu and married an Indian lady, a relationship which produced one son but broke up after a couple of years; he then married an ethnic Fijian lady from Natunuku, who is the sister of our parish catechist there, Mr Savenaca Nakuturi. They also broke up, after the sad death of their child. In this sadness, it was the support of the Fijian Catholic community and their persistent invitations to Bobby to come to church and their social gatherings, which kept him sane and kindled an interest in him to consider leaving the religion of his parents and become a Christian. For 15 years, he came to church, barely understanding the words of the liturgy (spoken in standard Fijian) – he speaks Hindi and the Ba dialect of Fijian. He also does not read or write well, so couldn’t follow the texts easily. But he hung in and on my arrival in the parish in June 2020, and noticing the unusual sight of an Indo Fijian attending our village liturgies, I invited him to consider joining the RCIA program to be baptised. He accepted and with the help of an Indo Fijian school teacher, Mr Bernard Saverio, we were able to teach Bobby the basics of the faith. What he might not know through ‘book learning’, he more than makes up for by faith and enthusiasm for his new family and church.
The scene in church before the baptism
This is what Bernard said of their classes together: “ This was an enlightening experience. I have never met such a candidate before. He was so eager and made my teaching enjoyable. It was never a burden, in fact, I looked forward to every class”
The village catechist, his brother in law said: “After Bobby’s divorce with my sister, he was very lonely. We kept inviting him home and to church. We are close. He was coming to Mass for 15 years, but only in the last year, got really enthusiastic about it”
The final word goes to Bobby himself: "I am so happy today. This has been a blessing. My tavale (brother-in-law) and Master have taught me everything. As long as I live, I will follow this Church. This is my family now”.
Atil Singh Kumar (aka Bobby) was baptised, confirmed and received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Holy Family, 27th Dec 2020 by Fr Pat Colgan.
Columban Fr Pat Colgan is the Parish Priest at Christ the King Parish, Ba in Fiji.