Feature

Father Barr’s Fijian Family Tell

Father Barr was widely known as a social justice advocate, having chaired the People’s Community Network (PCN), an organisation committed to helping the unfortunate for years.
19 Sep 2020 10:35
Father Barr’s Fijian Family Tell
In happier days.... Onoria Vakaloloma (left) with Father Kevin Barr.

Father Kevin Barr, 84, was a man who fought hard for social justice and was a champion for the poor and underprivileged Fijians.

These were the sentiments of Onoria Vakaloloma, a close member of what had become Father Barr’s Fijian family.

Ms Vakaloloma while paying tribute to the man who had helped raise her, said even though he had a responsibility with the church and people, he was also a man that put his family’s needs ahead of his own.

Father Barr was widely known as a social justice advocate, having chaired the People’s Community Network (PCN), an organisation committed to helping the unfortunate for years.

He died on Thursday at the Home of Compassion on Princes Road, Tamavua.

Ms Vakaloloma said: “The relationship my family had with Father Barr was initiated some 20 years ago when my uncle was taken under his care in the Seminary.

“My uncle, Semiti Qalowasa, was in the seminary for some five to six years and since then, that relationship has evolved.

“My uncle referred to him as his father, his children referred to him as their grandfather and we were his extended children.

“I was probably running around in napkins when he came to Fiji but I have known him all my life and he was always there growing up. He was our Pa.

“Of course, we respect that he was a Catholic priest but growing up my family had basically referred to him as our Pa. He was always involved in our lives and he supported us in education and spiritually at home.

“When people ask me who Father Kevin Barr was to us, we say he was our Pa.”

Ms Vakaloloma said Father Barr came to Fiji in the early 1980’s as a missionary priest of the Order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“One time I questioned him on why he loved doing what he did, I told him that he was aging,” she recalled.

“The truth is he was not a person who loved luxury, he remained simple, and lived a simple life.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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