IN a solemn and moving tribute under an overcast sky, Archbishop Emeritus Petero Mataca was laid to rest beneath the Sacred Heart Cathedral where he served for 38 years yesterday.
The slight drizzle reflected the solemn mood of people, some of whom wept openly while others had their heads bowed as their show of respect for their former church leader.
Thousands of Catholics, dignitaries, government representatives and members of the public bid farewell to the former head of the Catholic Church who died at the age of 81 at the Suva Private Hospital on June 30.
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, at the resurrection mass yesterday, assured Catholics that the church was in good hands.
The event, televised live across the Pacific, brought the Capital City to a standstill yesterday.
Archbishop Chong also delivered the Body of Christ to those who gathered at the funeral mass.
Archbishops from around the region were among the guests who were part of the service.
Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama, members of the diplomatic corps, cabinet ministers, the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and First Lady Adi Koila Nailatikau, close friends of the fallen leader, were among those who received the Holy Communion.
At the end of the funeral rites, the slight drizzle stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, a reflection of assurance and hope for the church as it moves forward without the man who led it for about four decades.
Archbishop Emeritus Petero Mataca was at home and at eternal rest.