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3FIR Of The Republic Of Fiji Military Force Celebrates Chapel Renovation

Members of the Third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment (3FIR) and families celebrated the completion of the Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF) Chapel on June 23, 2019. The event coincided
26 Jun 2019 14:30
3FIR Of The Republic Of Fiji Military Force Celebrates Chapel Renovation
nThe service was graced with the presence of the Commander in Chief, the President of Fiji, Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Voreqe Bainimarama, Commander of RFMF (CRFMF) Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, and the Commander Land Force (CLF) Colonel Manoa Gadai.

Members of the Third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment (3FIR) and families celebrated the completion of the Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF) Chapel on June 23, 2019.

The event coincided with the Infantry Day church service at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks (QEB) in Nabua, Suva.

The service was graced with the presence of the Commander in Chief, the President of Fiji, Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Voreqe Bainimarama, Commander of RFMF (CRFMF) Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, and the Commander Land Force (CLF) Colonel Manoa Gadai.

The RFMF Chaplain, Reverend Major Ilaitia Tuwere, and his Assistant Reverend Captain Viliame Tunidau officiated the service. It was indeed a blessing to have the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji (MCIF) Reverend Epineri Vakadewavosa as the chief guest who conducted the service of rededicating the chapel and blessing the new equipment –the sound system, steel chairs and the shed components – all donated by 3FIR.

Third Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment colours were marched into the chapel and placed on the flag stand in front of the church to signify the importance of the service and the Infantry Day.

Reverend Vakadewavosa greeted the distinguished guests and all family members present, saying it was indeed an honour for him to be invited to sanctify the memorial occasion.

“I want to thank the Commanding Officer and members of the 3rd Battalion for exemplifying your faith in the excellent renovation work witnessed today.

In 1967, I was enlisted into the RFMF and still remember my regimental number as 2119,” Reverend Vakadewavosa said.

“During my three weeks at QEB, I learnt a lot and the church service was always held at the Garrison Hall, which is now the Tuvasu Hall. At that time, the church attendance was always small in number and what I witness today is totally the opposite, which proves that the transformation and renewing strength of the Holy Spirit dwells within your lives.

“As the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, I can tell you that RFMF members are a living force within the Methodist church in Fiji today.”

The birth of the RFMF Chapel started in 1964 when social gatherings, RFMF dance and church service were all held at the Garrison Hall, now known as Tuvasu Hall. RFMF Church Elder (Vakatawa) back then, Osea Pulu, requested the then Commander RFMF to build a new church to have a proper place of worship. The RFMF Church congregation at that time included soldiers and members of the marine quarters.

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Warrant Officer Class One Isoa Vakaciwa, who was later promoted to Captain, a notable figure within the RFMF and a staunch member coupled with Waisake Sivoi, Paula Ravutia and Kelepi Bainivalu from marine quarters convened a series of meetings to fundraise for the new chapel.

More members of the congregation got involved in the project as the burning desire to build the new chapel got stronger.

Charity funds by ex-servicemen from Malaya and the Solomon Islands also contributed to the fundraising. The red diamond shape of the chapel commemorates all infantrymen, as the first Fijians to go into the battlefields were all infanteers.

Throughout the commonwealth countries, all infantrymen had to undergo corp training before they are badged with a red diamond to officially become an infanteer.

Eventually in 1973, the RFMF memorial Chapel was completed. At 9am on November 11, 1973, the RFMF Memorial Chapel was opened by the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and blessed by the late President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Andrews.

June 23, 2019 marks 45 years from when the chapel was built. The 3FIR members fundraised a total of $150,000 to renovate the chapel in commemoration of the sacrifice the ex-servicemen from the Solomons and Malaya and family members of the marine quarters at Delainabua did to build this sanctuary.

Prime Minister Banimarama was extremely delighted with the renovation.

“What a remarkable project. Thank You CO 3FIR for such a job well done. This is a fine example of teamwork,” the PM said.

CO 3FIR concluded by saying that the Infantry Day was a day of reflection for all soldiers in the RFMF. He said it was a pleasure for the 3FIR to renovate the RFMF Chapel, which was also an extension of their faith and at the same time building up their Espirit De Corps.

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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