Golden reunion for former Xavierians
16 July, 2018, 6:00 am
DECADES after lifelong friendships were formed in the hallowed halls of one of Ba’s most prominent high schools, a group of former scholars are coming together this week in the hope of reminiscing and reigniting relations
Miles away from the Ba River and Namosau Creek where they used to cross daily to get to school, these former students will traverse and gather near another body of water — one that is home to a much bigger crossing — the world famous Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco is where the old scholars will come together to reconnect with classmates they have not seen for a very long time.
The wonders of modern technology have played a huge role in what is billed to be “the biggest reunion” for former students of this esteemed school, with Facebook connecting generations of people including those who migrated after high school.
Xavier College is a school steeped in rich history, going back to the 1950s when it was established by Columban missionaries in Fiji.
Today, notable alumni of the school make up a considerable bulk of Fiji’s business sector and those who have migrated have excelled in their field of work.
Many of these former scholars, particularly the class of 1970s are expected to be present at the gala event this week.
History of Xavier College
Long considered one of the top schools in the country, Xavier College has grown in leaps and bounds since its establishment in the 1950s.
Archives suggest the property on which Xavier College stands belonged to a businessman, Sir Hugh Ragg.
According to the history details about the school provided by the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel, Sir Ragg gave the land to the Catholic Church to establish a secondary school in 1946.
The then Bishop Foley passed the property on to the Marist Fathers, who brought a few students from their secondary school in Cawaci, Levuka. These students attended Xavier from 1946 to 1951 before they were taken back to the secondary school in Cawaci.
However, it was the arrival of the Columban Fathers in 1952 that stirred the greatest change. The property was placed in the care of the Columbans to start a secondary school as an outreach to the non-Christian population in the western part of Fiji.
Father Michael Cryan and Father Kevin Fleming were just two of the individuals appointed to the school in December, 1952.
Xavier College began operating in February, 1953, with 24 boys. Fr Cryan was named the principal.
In 1987, the school was handed over to the Montfort Brothers at the invitation of the Archbishop at the time, His Grace Petero Mataca.
A successful reunion in Ba about four years ago paved the way for future events of the like, and this year, organisers are keen to host a reunion unlike any other.
More than 200 guests are expected to pour into the South San Francisco Conference Centre on July 19, the eve of the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
One of the organisers, Ranjan Charan, says the focus has been solely on the reunion.
“This formula was used very successfully in 2014 when we did a reunion in Ba and we had well over 200 people and more than 100 came from abroad,” he says.
“While we are going to have a good time at the reunion, the underlying goal is to connect the Xavierians now spread out all over the world with the former student community, reconnect them back to Xavier, back to Ba and back to Fiji.”
He says people are travelling from all over the world to attend the reunion, particularly those who have not seen each for decades.
“The default belief for most folks attending this reunion is that it will be a great and fun reunion.
“High school was a fun time in our lives and this is an opportunity to reconnect with some of those old friends who were part of that life, sort of a nostalgic visit back in time and a place that was an important part of our lives.”
Guests at the event include sevens maestro Waisale Serevi, Father Paul Cado, who oversaw the transition of the school management from the Columban Fathers to Monfort Brothers of St Gabriel, and Father Veremo Dovarua, a former student and current Lautoka Parish priest.
A number of notable former scholars are also expected to be in attendance, including Robert Wong, a successful San Francisco attorney who was an Xavier College student in 1972.
Hay Rasheed, who graduated from Xavier College in 1977, will also be at the function. He migrated to the US in 1980 and while there, served in the US Air Force as a flight simulator specialist and later on as a design engineer.
Also present will be the captain of the Xavier College soccer team of 1957, Chenchal Singh. The team won the Ba Soccer Association Knockout Tournament.
The reunion will be held in San Francisco this Thursday from 6pm until midnight.