Last week, our beloved brother Tala returned home to God. We offer our condolences to his wife Tini, and all their children and family. But Tala’s passing is not only felt by his biological family. We, his church family, are also heartbroken.
In our parish, Tala was our head usher. For him, that position was not only about coordinating the other ushers. Instead, he exemplified to others what genuine warm hospitality was like. He greeted every person coming through the door with a smile and joyful welcome. He would accompany people to find available seats and made sure they were comfortable.
Tala was also a member of our parish Cultural Diversity Ministry. His Samoan background did not keep him only active in the Samoan community. Rather, he was willing to serve as a bridge, connecting the diverse backgrounds of our parish community. He would make it a point to attend and participate in cultural events other than his own.
In all my experience serving with Tala in the Pastoral Council and Knights of Columbus, he always showed his deep faith in God and his profound love for the Catholic Church. And he was willing to put this faith into action. When I looked for volunteers to help the city of Oceanside survey the homeless population, he was one of only a few who responded and proceeded to go out on a cold February morning.
In short, Tala truly embodied what Mission San Luis Rey Parish is about. In our mission statement, we recognize the multicultural reality of our parish and we strive to welcome all into God’s inclusive love and to build a just and compassionate world. Tala did all that.
His passing leaves a big gap in the hearts of those who were blessed to know him and also in the life of our parish. But I hope his life inspires us, like him, to try to better embody our parish identity. I pray that more people like Tala will rise up to be the new welcoming faces and bridge builders in our parish.
Rest in peace, Tala. We say farewell to you with these words from the Samoan funeral song:
Mo’omo’oga sa molia i talosaga (Hopes sealed in prayers)
ta nonofo fa’atasi i lenei olaga (were for you and I to be together in this life)
A o lenei ua vala’au ina oe (But now you have been summoned)
e Ieova o lo ta’ua leoleo mamoe (by Jehovah, our Shepherd)
Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
Associate Pastor, Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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