top of page


About Kiribati


The islands of Kiribati were originally settled by Micronesians who developed a distinct Kiribati culture and society. European contact began in the 16th century with the arrival of whalers, slave traders and merchants. The western group of islands was named the Gilbert Islands by a British captain in 1820. Kiribati (then the Gilbert Islands) was colonised by Britain in the late 19th century. Kiribati gained independence in 1979 after being administered by Britain as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. Despite foreign occupations and influences, much of Kiribati's indigenous culture and language has remained resilient due to the islands' isolation.





Main Religions

Roman Catholic and Protestant


Time Zone

U.T.C + no daylight saving



I- Kiribati and English






811.2 km²

Arrival of Marists


Number of Marist Brothers Communities & location

1 -  La Valla, Bikenibeu, Tarawa

Number of Brothers


Marist Schools & location

1 - Saint Louis High School, Teaoraereke, Tarawa

Marist Initiatives in Kiribati: Education, Spirituality, and Formation



Our Marist Ministry in Kiribati started in 1984. The first Marist Brother to work in Kiribati was from Australia, Br Michael (Flavius) Donnelly (Melbourne Province), who volunteered to replace his sister, a member of the congregation of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, who had lost her life in a sailing mishap. He was teaching there when he died of a heart attack towards the end of 1972. He is buried in the cemetery at Teaoraereke. 


Some years later, in June 1982, Br Gregory Ryan, New Zealand Provincial, received a letter from Paul Mea, an MSC priest, who had been a student at East Asian Pastoral Institute with him in 1974. Paul had been made Bishop of the diocese of Tarawa and Nauru in 1979; he was the first local Bishop.


Since 1980, he had been trying to get brothers from the Sydney province to direct a post-primary institute, called the St Louis Vocational Centre, located at the diocesan centre at Teaoraereke on Tarawa. Sydney was having difficulty in finding men, and once the bishop heard that a man he knew had become provincial of NZ, he thought he would appeal to him as well. This invitation from Bishop Paul Mea was accepted by the NZ Provincial Council in 1983. 

The men chosen for this new ministry were two New Zealanders and a Samoan: Francis Eggleton (now Fr Frank Eggleton), Camillus Aylward, and Edward Daneilson. They arrived in Tarawa at the beginning of 1984 to run the St Louis’ Vocational Centre, which became St Louis High School when it was registered as a secondary school in 1986.

Since then 14 I-Kiribati men have become Marist Brothers. One died as a Brother and four are still Brothers today. At present, one Postulant and one Aspirant are living with the Brothers in Kiribati.

Marist Life and Mission Groups 

Kiribati Mission Stewardship Team - created in 2018 in liaison with the District Council of the Pacific (now SOTS), consists of five Marists and two Brothers.


Purpose: for Brothers and other Marists to be co-responsible for our future Marist Mission in Kiribati.  


Champagnat Youth Group - about 25 members ranging from University Students to Secondary school students meet regularly to help animate other youth outreaches.


The Marist presence in Kiribati encompasses several key initiatives.


St Louis High School Champagnat Marists consists of St Louis Marist Teachers committed to deepening the Charism within the School, with Brother Sefo Une acting as the School Commissioner. 

The La Valla Spirituality and Retreat Centre serves as a residence for four Brothers and a hub for running retreats and various Champagnat Marist Gatherings, with two brothers assigned to this mission.


Additionally, there are three Champagnat Marist Pre-schools where the Marists support the animation of the Champagnat Charism, assist in the religious teachers' spiritual and professional development, and offer financial support from international donations. 



The Formation initiatives include the La Valla Formation Centre, Stewardship Team Retreats, St Louis High School Staff Orientation, "Champagnat in The Pacific" Programs, and Charism Workshops and Retreats for Preschool Teachers.

Kiribati 8.jpg

Marist Presence in Kiribati

bottom of page