No assumptions for Father Kimi
By FIONA VAN DER PLAAT.
EARLY on the road to becoming a priest, Fr Kimi Vunivesilevu learnt not to make assumptions about the future.
Having arrived in Australia from Fiji in 2008 to begin his formation as an MSC priest, he was laid low by a life-threatening illness just six months into his novitiate.
The disruption to his life and formation from the ensuing surgeries and medical treatment, along with visa problems “taught me not to have expectations”.
That is why Fr Vunivesilevu, who was ordained in Sydney last August, is not looking too far ahead as he begins his three-year placement as assistant priest at St John the Apostle parish in Kippax.
He is looking only as far as getting to know the people of the parish, along with the students in the parish schools and at Daramalan College, and will be guided by some advice he once received from a parish priest.
“He told me you should spend the first year looking at how things work before you think about changing anything,” he says.
It won’t be the first time Fr Vunivesilevu has heeded the advice of his elders.
Having been inspired to join the MSCs while working for them as secretary to the Superior of the Pacific Region after graduating in computer programming, he was encouraged when an older priest told him that, as challenging as the priesthood can be, it held many joys and he had no regrets.
“I hope, when I get to that age, I can say, ‘I’ve enjoyed that, it’s been good,’” he says.
So far, so good, since “I haven’t regretted my decision once”.
Fr Vunivesilevu, who grew up in Suva as the fifth of six children, left Fiji because he felt he “knew too much about everybody” from his job with the Superior.
Having considered Japan, he decided Australia would be a good place “to focus on my own formation”.
That decision gave him another reason not to have any regrets.
“After I got sick, my doctor told me I would have died if I had stayed in Fiji because my condition probably wouldn’t have been diagnosed,” he says.