Mele Prescott boasts a Tongan background but it’s the Pakeha branch of the Anglican Church she’s starting her ‘apprenticeship’ in.
She began as curate and Youth Enabler at the end of November this year, the first time Taranaki Cathedral has had a person in such a position, in recent history.
Mele comes to Taranaki from St John’s Theological College in Auckland where she completed her three-year study.
Born to Tongan parents who migrated to NZ in the 1970s, she grew up in the Anglican Church where over the years she was heavily involved in youth and children’s ministry.
But it was the travel and tourism industry in which she first sought a career. She worked for eight years in Auckland, first as a tour guide for an adventure company at the Sky Tower and later on in wholesale travel. The tour guiding ensured she’s comfortable speaking in public.
Throughout those eight years, Mele took on children’s and youth roles, co-ordinating five Polynesian youth groups in Auckland and then, last year, working as youth pastor for an Anglican parish in Remuera.
Asked to describe herself, she says she’s “bubbly, loud and a people person,” as well as creative, open to anything and adventurous. “I would be the first one to put my hand up and encourage others.”
Mele says in a world of endless choice and career possibilities, it wasn’t that she chose the path of priesthood, rather it chose her.
“I believe God chose me to become a clergyperson and I relate that to John Chapter 15 verse 16 where Jesus says: You did not choose me, I chose you.
“Also, I always had that call to minister, to serve.”
Learning to be a clergy person is “satisfying and gives a true purpose to the deep passions at the core of my being.”
As a curate she will assist priests at the cathedral and serve the community. She expects to do lots of watching and following. Discipline will be important, as well as engaging with and getting to know the community.
So after a life in the big smoke why Taranaki? Archbishop Philip Richardson was one reason - Mele admires his humility and wisdom, and felt drawn to Taranaki because of that.