The New Evangelization - Oceania









Northern Mariana Islands
– Under US sovereignty, they make up the Mariana Islands with Guam, in the SW Pacific: capital, Saipan. The Chalan Kanoa Diocese was established in 1984. Catholics are 88.8% of the population.

Palau – Independent nation in the W Pacific: capital, Koror. It is under the jurisdiction of the diocese of the Caroline Islands, Federated States of Micronesia. Catholics are 42% of the population.


Papua New Guinea – Independent republic in the W Pacific, the eastern half of New Guinea, including the nearby islands: capital, Port Moresby. The region was evangelized by Marists, c.1844. Competition from Protestant missions followed. Missionaries of the Sacred Heart arrived in 1882.  In 1884 Germany took possession of the northern region, and Papua, the southern region, became a British protectorate, which passed to Australian control in 1905. In WWI the northern region came under Australian control as well. The two regions were combined in 1949 as Papua New Guinea, which became independent in 1975. The Church suffered reverses with the Japanese occupation in WWII, and again, from 1989 to 1994, a secessionist movement brought destruction to churches, schools, and health centers. Recently, there has been friction between Church and state, with the hierarchy charging corruption and incompetence, and the government answering with the charge of inciting civil unrest.  Catholics make up 33% of the population.


Samoa, American – Unincorporated US territory in the SW Pacific, consisting of six small islands: seat of government, Pago Pago, Island of Tutuila. The Samoa-Pago Pago Diocese was established in 1982. 21% of the  population is Catholic.


Samoa, Western – Independent state in the SW Pacific: capital, Apia. Catholic mission work was begun in 1845. Most missions still operating were established by 1870. The first Samoan priest was ordained in 1892. A diocese was established in 1966 and elevated to a metropolitan see in 1982. 16% of the population is Catholic.


Solomon Islands – Independent island group: capital, Honiara, on Guadalcanal. Christianity was introduced by Marists in 1846, on the Southern Solomons. It was rebuffed with violence from the natives. A more successful attempt was made in 1898. An apostolic vicariate was organized in 1912, likewise for the the Western Solomons in 1959. Mission installations sustained heavy damage during WWII. Catholics are 19% of the population.


Tonga – Polynesian monarchy, SW Pacific, of about 150 islands: capital, Nuku'alofa. Catholicism was introduced by Marists in 1842, some years after Protestant evangelization had begun. A vicariate was organized in 1937. The hierarchy was established in 1966, and diplomatic relations with Vatican in 1994. 14.5% of the population is Catholic.


Tuvalu – Independent state consisting of nine islands (formerly Ellice Islands): capital, Funafuti. Catholics just .01% of the population.


Vanuatu – Independent island group in SW Pacific (formerly New Hebrides): capital, Vila. Evangelization by Catholic missionaries began in 1887. An apostolic vicariate was set up in 1904. The hierarchy was established in 1966. Catholics are 16% of the population.


Wallis and Futuna Islands – French territory in SW Pacific: capital, Mata-Utu. Evangelization was begun by Marists in 1836. Although the first missionary to Futuna was killed in 1841, the entire population of both islands was baptized by 1843. The majority of priests are native Polynesians. 100% of the population is Catholic.

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