News Release

Elder Haleck Dedicates Samoan Historical Marker

Memorial recognises the faith, service and sacrifices of early Latter-day Saint missionaries in the Samoan Islands

Elder O. Vincent Haleck, President of the Pacific Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated a historical marker in Samoa's Fagali'i Cemetery on Thursday July 11.


He was accompanied at the special service by Elder Sapele Faalogo, Area Seventy, and several other local members of the Church and community.

Watch a short video about the dedicatory service:


The marker, with the title "Fanuatanu o Fagali'i," begins with the words:

"In this spot in 1891, a white picket fence surrounded a single wooden marker. The marker identified the grave of a mother and her infant son, buried in the same grave."


The text continues: "Newlyweds Katie and Joseph Merrill came to Samoa from the United States of America in 1891. They were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That same year, Katie and their first-born child died one day after the baby was born. Joseph buried his wife and son with 'their heads turned towards home.'"

The marker concludes with the words:"The Fagali'i Cemetery is a sacred place for Latter-day Saints. It is a monument to the sacrifice, service and faith of the men, women and children who have shared the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in this land."


Elder Haleck paid tribute in his remarks, as well as in the dedicatory prayer, to the early missionaries who came from the United States to establish the Church in Samoa.

He encouraged the people of Samoa and American Samoa today to always remember the faith and sacrifices of the early missionaries, and to learn from their examples.


In particular, he said, "faith is a principle of action, so we should, like the early missionaries, act on our faith in our Heavenly Father, and His beloved Son Jesus Christ."

Samoan Chief, Orator and Mayor of Fagali'i Village, Tofa Samau Lokeni, was a special guest at the dedicatory service.


Elder Haleck invited him to speak during the service.

Tofa Samau Lokeni shared his gratitude to the Church and the missionaries and their families who were buried there. He read aloud the last two paragraphs on the historical marker from the Samoan translation.

Local Latter-day Saint Ivoga Matai said that members of the Church in Samoa "are the fruits" of the early missionaries' faith and service.


This, she said, meant that "we should continue living the gospel of Jesus Christ as they did."

After the service Elder Faalogo said he was grateful that Elder Haleck dedicated the historical marker.

"How appropriate," Elder Faalogo said, "as Elder Haleck was a former young fulltime missionary who served his mission in Samoa, who then became the Samoa Apia Mission President, then the first General Authority of Samoan descent, and the first Samoan Area President."

"His last assignment as General Authority in Samoa was the dedication of the historical marker."

"This," Elder Faalogo said, "was indeed apt."

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