First Orthodox abbess enthroned in Fiji

For the first few years of its existence, the Monastery of the Dormition in Saweni, Fiji had no official spiritual head. However, as the “Pacific Islands Greek Orthodox Church” Facebook group reports, Abbess Gerontissa Melani has been officially installed as the abbess of the monastery.

The convent, which sits near the coast in the northwestern Lautoka area of the main island, is under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of New Zealand of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The enthronement was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochius of New Zealand, the Basilica News Agency reports.

The event marked a unique and important event in the life of the Orthodox Church in Fiji not just in that Mother Melani is the first abbess in Fiji, but in that she is also a native Fijian, as is Sister Anissa.

The ceremony was also attended by Fr. Melethius of the Monastery of the Holy Archangels in Levin, New Zealand, and Abbes Yuliani of the Kehrovounio Monastery in Tinos, where Abbess Melani and Sister Anissa had spent one and a half years.

The website of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Australia and Oceania lists, in addition to Dormition Monastery, four parishes operating in Fiji, all under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Three are on the main island, with the fourth on the second-largest island of Vanua Leva.

An October 2015 article by Met. Amphilochius also notes that the Church operates the St. Tabitha Orphanage and “Safe Home” for unprotected women in Fiji.