"THE long wait is finally over".
These were the words echoed by Archbishop Petero Mataca when the new Archbishop of Suva was announced by the Vatican early this week.
And Fiji's longest serving Archbishop of 38 years took the event of his retirement to seek forgiveness from his followers for the hurt he might have caused during his term.
"We have journeyed together in good times and in bad times and I will always remember you all in my prayers," retired Archbishop Mataca said.
"I wish to express my gratitude to all the people of Fiji, Rotuma, Rabi and Kioa for their prayers and support during my time of leadership," he said.
"I humbly ask for your forgiveness for the hurt I may have caused," retired Archbishop Mataca added.
He tendered his resignation after celebrating his 75th birthday in 2008 but he made a request to the Vatican to continue with his work until a replacement could be found.
Retired Archbishop Mataca, who had anticipated the announcement of his replacement, earlier said it would be the best moment of his life when the Vatican appoints a new Archbishop of Suva.
After his resignation in 2008 church members had asked him to step down from his position as they awaited his replacement. However, retired Archbishop Mataca reiterated that while he had resigned from his post in office, he would continue with his role within the Catholic church.