June 5, 2011

Ini Kopuria of Melanesia

Ini Kopuria, the first Elder Brother of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was born soon after the start of the twentieth century on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons.

Ini attended St. Barnabas School on Norfolk Island, an institution started by Bishop J. C. Patterson with the purpose of training young men to teach their own people. Ini’s daily contact with the Anglican Christians at St. Barnabas led to his own developed sense of religious calling. One story about his time there relates his strict adherence to a rule of silence during Lent, and on one Ash Wednesday, when confronted by a teacher who questioned this practice, Ini replied by letter, refusing to break his vow. It was then that many around him began to notice his calling to a religious vocation.

Although it was expected that upon leaving school, Ini would return to Guadalcanal to teach his own people, he surprised everyone by becoming a police officer in the Native Armed Constabulary. Though initially unhappy with his role in the police, he earned the respect and admiration of his superiors with his dedication and wisdom. In 1927, after he had left the police force, he was asked by the Commissioner to return to the police and go to the island of Mala to quiet local unrest. Ini is said to have remarked, “It would be bad if I were to go there with a rifle; I may want to return one day with the Gospel.”

It was during his recovery from an injury in 1924 that Ini came to the realization that only in service to Christ would his life find meaning and fulfillment. Under the direction of his Bishop, John Steward, he took his vows as the first Elder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, an Anglican order devoted to the spread of the Gospel among the non- Christian areas of Melanesia. The Order, characterized by its vows of simplicity, in this day continues its work of peacemaking and includes not only Melanesians, but also Polynesians, Filipinos, and Europeans. (From Holy Women Holy Men)


JCF said...

Very nice, Tobias.

Holy Ini, pray for us!

Anonymous said...

This is the greatest moments of brotherhood