Pope comes to Holy Trinity Parish by video and letter
Last month Pope Francis was a regular presence in our parish, albeit by video.
Pope nights at Holy Cross staffroom, St Anthony’s Gascoigne Room and St Patrick’s meeting room where great occasions for hosting Pope Francis on video.
From footage of lightening striking the Vatican dome on the resignation of Pope Benedict, through to the miracles the new pope has performed and the Synod on Family, the videos showed an active Pope with an ability to communicate age old messages in new ways.
Themes of the papacy of Pope Francis
The name Pope Francis chose is very important to understanding his mission: he has embraced the mission of Francis of Assisi: to “rebuild” the Church in the sense of a spiritual reform that has God at its centre.
One of the main messages of Pope Francis is the centrality of mercy. He is displaying mercy in his actions and words. The remarkable effect he has had on the non-Catholic world shows the power of this message.
It is not that Pope Francis is seeking to strip us of our commitments to critical social causes like abolition of abortion or commitment to marriage and family, but that he wants us to move these important things to their proper place.
To illustrate this, we can imagine a target with concentric circles and a centre bull’s-eye. The bull’s-eye would contain the single most important thing, and each ring out from the centre would reflect things that are in degrees of descending importance.
This is at the heart of what Pope Francis is calling us to: He’s asking us to focus on the message in the centre of the bull’s-eye:
“God created you for one purpose, an eternal relationship of love with Him.”
Pope Francis wants us to lead with ‘yes’ – rather than with ‘no’. When we lead with ‘no’, our messages and means of communication not only fail to advance the cultural causes we care about, but they also are destructive to the souls of those who are not yet convinced that we have anything to say to them.
Gaudete et Exsultate - Rejoice and be glad
The theme of the latest papal letter is the call to holiness in today’s world. Pope Francis calls us all to be holy – he asks us to be inspired by the saints next door.
We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.
According to Pope Francis, some characteristics of holiness in the current world are: patience and meekness, humour, courage and fervour, community life, and constant prayer.
A woman who raises her children, a man who works to bring home the daily bread…this for me is ordinary holiness. We should not look to a perfect life without errors, but people whose lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.
This is a very personal letter written to each of us. As the Tablet put it holiness has come to…mean one of two things: either being so unwordly as to be hardly on the planet at all, or to have assumed an air of spiritual superiority that disdains lesser mortals more subject to the temptations of the flesh. In his audacious new apostolic exhortation Pope Francis has embarked upon a very personal definition of holiness that breaks through these blockages and turns these preconceptions upside down.
Most Catholics would shy away from imagining holiness either as applying to themselves or as a serious aim in life and are probably not comfortable with being thought of as ‘religious’. Yet the call to holiness is universal, and the practice of it should be as natural and familiar as any good habit. The parent who cares lovingly for a child, the carpenter who deftly repairs a damaged wardrobe, the owner of a business who behaves honourably and conscientiously towards staff and their customers, indeed anyone who aspires to become the person God means them to be, is engaged in becoming more holy by virtue of it.
Holiness is not remote from everyday life. It is the very stuff daily life is made of. Anyone can be a saint. The Pope’s letter is a remarkable document and could be regarded as this Pope’s spiritual masterpiece. A thousand sermons could be preached on it, and everyone in the congregation would instantly sense that the Pope is talking to them personally.
There are two common problems we have in the Church – belief in our own intellect, and belief in our own will. The first problem is believing that because we have received certain information, we fully understand the will of God; the second problem, that we can save ourselves by our own actions; we end up worshiping our own abilities, rather than trusting God.
Both problems are similar, because they seek to control our encounter with God, and they both display pride and a lack of trust in God - The spiritual experience of the encounter with God cannot be controlled.
The path of holiness asks that we keep our lamps lit, as those who do not commit serious failures against the Law of God can nevertheless fall into a state of dull lethargy. This can lead to a corruption that is worse than the fall of a sinner, for it is a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable.
Discernment, then, is…an authentic process of leaving ourselves behind in order to approach the mystery of God, who helps us to carry out the mission to which he has called us, for the good of our brothers and sisters.
Many thanks to Patricia O'Donnell for last month’s article on the influenza epidemic of early last century in our area including the story of Sister Chanel Burton. Thank you this month to Sister Judith Moroney for sharing her reflection on what being a Sister of Mercy has meant to her, first shared at Mass at Holy Cross on Vocation’s Day. Sister lives in our parish and spends much of her time in work connected with the Mercy leadership
Sister Judith Moroney (far left) with other Mercy Sisters from around the Asia-Pacific region
Thank you Father Gregory for this opportunity to share my experience of call in my life as a Sister of Mercy. We are all called by God, both in our everyday lives and living, and in our life vocation. For me that is as a sister in Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa, Sisters of Mercy, New Zealand.
When I was younger I had always believed I would work, get married and have kids. I remember the tension within me when my call was to something different. But, I knew I could never be at peace until I tried it out and I’m still here and very much at peace with that choice.
This call to follow Jesus, to live the Gospel in a particular way and to be inspired by our Foundress Catherine McAuley who was both prayerful and active in helping and empowering the poor in Ireland, knowing God’s mercy in my life and wanting to share God’s mercy with others, has led me into many privileged experiences.
Before I joined the Mercies I was a primary teacher and I continued in that, along with Reading Recovery for many years. I have taught secondary school. I have been involved as a spiritual director, in retreats and child care during prison visiting hours. I have been bursar and involved in new membership within the Congregation. I have lived a few years in both Tonga and Samoa and been in primary and secondary teaching and teacher development there. I am now on the leadership team. And yet I know there has never been anything I “do” in religious life that I couldn’t do outside it. The call has been in making Jesus central in my life, being part of a congregation whose members share my vision and motivation and who support me in this privilege to live out my vows of celibacy - loving freely, obedience – listening deeply to God, the world and earth; and poverty – living simply. Trying to live whakawhanaungatanga - right relationships with God, self, others, earth and those who have walked before us and given witness.
Maybe you, your son or daughter, niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson is discerning his or her direction and vocational call. For some this may be in religious life or priesthood. Let us keep those who are discerning their path in life in our daily prayer, that they may make the choice that will give them deep fulfilment by living where they are called. In any vocation - marriage, single life, religious life or priesthood, there will be ups and downs. But when we are living deeply where we are called by God, we will find that deeper peace. That peace and knowing that is there no matter what difficulties there are. That is how we find true happiness and fulfilment.
Holy Cross - This term we will have a health focus with our theme ‘Confidence in Thyself’. Students will be reflecting upon their personality and how their actions affect others. This will also cover themes of
relationships and inclusiveness. Students will also develop an understanding that our actions shape us as a church. For physical education, students will be engaged in Run, Jump and Throw developing techniques used in athletics.
A club for people that like reading or want to get back into it
What happens on the last Sunday night of each month? The parish book club.
Suggested by Julian, the very first book club was lead by Allan. A dozen parishioners gathered. To get things rolling they shared brief details of what they have been reading.
Michael finds that most of what he reads is on the internet. It’s immediate and pretty much everything is there. If you have an interest or question, through web-sites and videos a mass of material is easy to find.
Theresa reads the Gospels. With Chinese as her first language reading in English is not always easy. However, reading the Gospels, Theresa feels the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Gospels come alive on the page.
Across the book club there are thriller and murder readers, history readers and papal document readers.
The comment was made that with so much written about our faith it is hard to sift through it all to find what speaks to us. Julian had generously bought a host of books that have spoken to him. Books that have been a complete joy in the midst of hard times. Books that have opened up new revelations.
Is there a book that has stood out for you as pure inspiration? Maybe there is a book that has challenged you. Share what you’ve been reading at the parish book club. Or, maybe it has been a while since you had a really good read. It is interesting to hear what other people have been reading, reason to get back into reading.
Feel free to join in on the book club. It is held on the last Sunday of each month at 6pm, after Mass, at Holy Cross.
HOW TO WRITE A HOMILY
Fr Paul comments that the biggest part of his week can be preparing his Sunday homily. He aims for 900 words and ensures it is tightly timed.
The Catechism talks of the magisterium of the pastors of the Church in talking on moral matters. In preaching there is an emphasis on illuminating theology and spirituality to ensure that from generation to generation the guidance and virtues of our faith in Christ are passed on and that we continue to be drawn to charity.
Of all his work as a priest Fr Paul finds preaching a highlight.
No homily will please everyone. In passing the faith on from generation to generation some try to dress it up, others try to skirt around the sides almost hiding its truth in order to find popularity. Fr Paul likes to go straight to the point of the Gospels. He doesn’t see the need to dress up or skirt around, he aims to hit bulls eye every time.
Some people like a quick Sunday Mass, some people are in no hurry and don’t want anything rushed. Fr Paul asks people to think about how they use their time during the week. Giving an hour a week to Sunday Mass and being open to whatever it might deliver might not be so hard.
Before leaving for New Zealand Fr Paul was told that his ministry would be one of maintaining the faith. Having been here for a year he says it has been different to what he had been expecting. There is much opportunity to grow the faith.
Like a good knife, we need to keep our faith sharp and we need to use it regularly, least it become blunt and rusty.
Do you like to read? Here are some great books you might like to try.
Occupations - The pictures in this book for each saint are full of hidden clues about the saint. Read about the saint and what they did then find the clues to learn more about them. The book will help you see in the lives of the saints what sort of job you might like to do.
Lion Treasury of Children’s Prayers- this book is great way to pray with mum and dad. Good times to pray with them are before going to school, dinner time and bedtime.
The Beginner's Bible - this version of the Bible has all the great stories of the Bible with helpful pictures. It is easy to read and will get you thinking about all sorts of important things
REMEMBERING THE INFLUENZA PANDEMIC
1918 was the year of the Influenza Pandemic. This is the same illness in several countries at the same time. In May a new strain of influenza swept through Europe. It was called the Spanish Flu because, in May 1918, King Alfonso XIII caught the Flu and became seriously ill. It was international news. He survived his illness but the label stuck.
The second wave reached New Zealand at the end of September, early October. A number of people, mainly school children and the elderly, caught a weak strain of the Flu. Military camps and boarding schools were the most affected. There were few deaths and the patients generally recovered after a week’s illness. The Wellington Mayor John P Luke approached the Health Dept for advice as he wanted to prepare the city in case the flu got worse. The Health Dept told him it was none of his business.
Then came the third wave of the Flu in early November. This wave was much more serious. On 8th November there was a premature announcement of the Armistice and in many towns people gathered to celebrate. Then on 12 November the real armistice was celebrated with dancing in the streets all over the country amid large spontaneous crowds of revelers. New Zealand was experiencing an unusually cold and unsettled Spring. November 12th was cold, windy and showery. So coughing and sneezing in crowds was common. These were fertile grounds for spreading the disease.
People who caught the Flu became very ill very quickly though it appears that those who had caught it earlier had immunity to this wave. The patients suffered headaches, a high fever often to 104 degrees, sweats, chest pains and coughing. Many of them experienced long nose bleeds and then recovered. Others developed delirium or pneumonia which led to death. If people in a house were ill they hung a white cloth, usually a towel, at the front door or at the gate as the sign that help was needed. Scouts answered this sign to hear what was needed. Adult Volunteers then delivered medicines or groceries or soup from the Soup kitchens set up to feed the sick. Where possible, volunteer nurses went into the homes of local people who caught the flu to nurse the patients and care for the families. Many volunteers became victims. The best treatment was to give aspirin, keep up fluid intake and frequently sponge the patients to lower their fever. Many single men in boarding houses died without help.
Wellington was in great difficulty. Many doctors and nurses were serving in the war. The Health Minister G W Russell and senior members from the Dept of Health had gone to Auckland where the Flu hit first to see what was happening. Many GPs were the first to get sick. Dr Matthew Holmes had been at Gallipoli. He was invalided home and worked as a GP here. He died at 42 having worked himself to collapse. Dr Barclay the Superintendent of Wellington Hospital began preparations to cope but was one of the first to fall ill seriously. Dr Watt, the senior Ministry of Health officer here was also very sick. Wellington had no medical leaders.
GPs and their nurses went from patient to patient travelling all over the city. The town Hall became the centre to dispense cough medicine and prescriptions were filled there. Temporary hospitals were set up in Wellington such as the one at St Patrick’s College in Cambridge Tce. This hospital was set up in the boarding school premises after the Marist priests had sent the students home. Here volunteer nurses cared for the seriously ill patients, 40 died. The same system was used at Wellington College where 82 died. The Public Hospital was overwhelmed by patients. The high density pop meant increased flu spread. Hairdressers, tram conductors, shop assistants caught the flu quickly. People who recovered were wobbly and shaky and weak for weeks and needed a long convalescence. On 12thNovember the Government ordered all schools, offices, pubs, exhibitions and movie theatres closed as a precaution against spreading the disease. Inhalation chambers were set up round the city. These helped public morale but were useless in fighting the disease. Cough mixture was popular because it had alcohol in it and pubs were closed.
Here in Kilbirnie Sr Mary Chanel of St Catherine’s began her work in the epidemic by visiting the local homes where people had the flu. When St Patrick’s hospital opened she worked there, walking there and back each day. In November, while nursing flu victims there, she caught the flu and died on November 30th.. Her death was described in the NZ Tablet newspaper as ‘she fell victim to overstrain brought on by her strenuous labours to alleviate the sufferings of influenza victims. On Thursday she suffered heart failure and pneumonia set in. She died at 11pm on Saturday’. Sr Chanel was buried at Karori cemetery after a solemn Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Kilbirnie at 9am. Sr Mary Chanel was born in Ireland and emigrated with her parents to Marlborough. There she attended the Sisters of Mercy convent school in Blenheim before becoming a nun. She was a Sister of Mercy for nearly 30 years, teaching at Lower Hutt, Newtown and Kilbirnie schools and had been in Kilbirnie for seven years. She was known as a sympathetic woman who was always ready to help those in distress and sorrow.
In October and November the death rate in Kilbirnie and Lyall Bay was 15.6% with a population of just 2,237 people, the highest death rate in the Wellington area.
How did the dangerous Flu reach New Zealand? In late October the Niagara docked in Auckland. The Prime Minister William Massey and Finance Minister Sir Joseph Ward were on board returning from London. The ship stopped in Vancouver and San Francesco in late September before the Flu arrived there, Honolulu for a day but no flu there. By the time the ship got to Suva there were 83 mild cases on board, mainly crew. Three days out from Auckland the Captain reported 12 serious cases. It was suggested the ship be quarantined but the Health Dept said no as flu was already rampant in Auckland. Passengers dispersed throughout the country. Most of the sick passengers had recovered so passengers were just sprayed as they disembarked. Twelve crew were isolated in hospital. A week later 3 crew died but they were not the first deaths in Auckland. Many people later blamed the third strain on this ship’s arrival. But 2 large troopships also arrived that week and hundreds of returning servicemen went home to all parts of the country. The troopships’ arrival was not publicised because of wartime restrictions. It is possible that many of the returned servicemen carried the Flu with them.
Here in New Zealand nearly 9,000 people died in 6 weeks. Those least likely to catch it were children 5 – 15 years old. The most likely to catch it were adults 20 – 45 with the highest number of deaths in the 25-34 age bracket. The total number of European New Zealanders who died was about 6413, the Maori deaths totalled about 2160. Six hundred and five soldiers in New Zealand camps died and an unknown number of NZ soldiers also died overseas. These numbers are approximate as not all who died of the Flu had that as a cause on their death certificates. Shops finally opened in mid December. Schools didn’t open till February. This was an event that altered the population of New Zealand for ever.
The next 25 years
It is a mark of the man that he opened celebration of 25 years of dedication to spreading the word of God in fluent Maori.
At the recent combined faith community mass to celebrate Fr Ephrem’s 25 years of vocation, the prayers of the faithful where in a great many languages of the Pacific and Asia.
As a missionary priest in a corner of the church that has known confidence only to lose it in a sea of confusion and self-doubt, Fr Ephrem’s 25th celebration was testament to his ability to find and foster the future church.
Sharing lunch with all the faith community afterward was testimony to his generosity to all that he meets. He is not a man to judge and rule over others. He is a gentle man who is humble and open, he invites us to the love of God of which he is sure.
In the history of the Church St Paul used the Roman’s roads to spread the message. In the middle ages the monasteries where sanctums from which the word spread. We had become used to missionaries following the conquering ways of the Portuguese, Spanish and French. In this new unchartered epoch, the new world is coming to the old world, finding it stepped in materialism, far from the Jesus of the Gospels.
Perhaps what we saw most strikingly in Fr Ephrem’s 25th jubilee celebration is that the faith community has changed.
Flanked by his fellow priests, who’s lives have crossed many times, Fr Ephrem presided over a truly multi-cultural faith community. The strength of devotion from our Philippino members, the service of our Indian members bolstered by the presence of sisters of St Teresa of Calcutta who joined us from Porirua, the power of the Tongan and Samoan communities singing, veneration of our Maori members, acknowledgment of the wisdom of our Italians. These and other national backgrounds are the beauty of the new faith community that is emerging.
So, we look forward to the next 25 years of vocation from Fr Ephrem. In his celebration he has not only shown us what we are becoming he has challenged us as any good missionary would do.
It is up to each of us to understand that we are part of an inclusive faith community that welcomes all people. That we bring our national identities to celebration, but we are not celebrating those identities we are celebrating Jesus and the sacrificial and redemptive love that will change the face of the old world.
THANK YOU BRENDAN
St Vincent de Paul crusader, Brendan Quirk, is a fine example of individual people within the faith community concentrating on what is important for the future and empowering others to be part of it.
Brendan brought together a group of our faith community last month to collect for the St Vincent de Paul food bank which feeds over 3,800 people a year.
The collection at Countdown Kilbirnie, collected 74 filled boxes of groceries and $358 in cash donations. These supplies will again substantially boost the SVDP Foodbank at Newtown, so timely with winter upon us.
Last month’s collection is right up there since Seatoun and Miramar Conference took on the six-monthly collection in November 2013. Last year our collections were 71 boxes/$270 cash and 75 boxes/$280 cash respectively. It all adds up over time, as since Nov 2013 we have collected 520 filled boxes and $3,051 cash for the foodbank, truly putting your faith into action.
May Brendan’s wonderful example help us to see what it means to be part of our broad a and loving faith community, that we might play our role in it.
THANK YOU JENNIFER AND DENISE
A member of our faith community put their hand out for Eucharist at week day Mass in great relief. Surrounded by a storm of catastrophe they were in the one place they could rely on. They were with Jesus, Jesus was with them. They could carry on breathing.
We go to Mass when times are good so that we know we are fully integrated with it when times are bad. As Fr Ephrem puts it: our faith is watered and grows with each raindrop. Gentle rain over time is what we are looking for not some flood of storm that washes everything away!
Last month principal of St Anthony’s Jennifer Ioannou and religious studies leader Denise Johnson lead a discussion on what it means to have Eucharist in our community.
One of the strongest messages is that we are neither parish nor school, together we are faith community. The Eucharist is Jesus amongst us, he will work the miracles we long for. The conversation lead to some very practical discussion.
There is an open invitation to our priests to be present at all religious education in our schools. Through this our children will get to know our priests and our priests will get to know what is on the minds of our youngest members and what they respond to.
From this is a desire to have special Masses during the year for special groups in our faith community. One suggestion is that we have Masses specifically for our families on occasional Sunday afternoons. Families can then celebrate the Eucharist and share in community in ways that speak to the challenges of being a family and all that is entailed.
Eucharist is a fundamental form of prayer where we consume Jesus and he becomes through no other thought or action part of us. We don’t have to pass a test or pay a ransom, we open our mouth and he is within us. This deepening relationship with the creator and protector of all things becomes a fresh spring of continuing prayer.
There is a strong desire to set up a prayer chain in our faith community. We can then pray together in support of one another. Times may get tough but through gathering for Eucharist and the many ways we find to pray we are in support of one another.
There is opportunity for mutually enriching partnership.
Denise gives examples of faith at work at school...
St Anthony’s in 2017 have been learning that we all have a responsibility of belonging to our faith community and are called to take action to care for our common home. We are a sign of God’s love when we look after our environment inside our buildings and outside in the playground.
In Kiwi, which is the class of our little people, we noticed that the junior corridor was always messy with rubbish, lunch boxes, food and clothing all over the floor. It didn't look good, especially when we had visitors. So, we decided to do something about it. We talked about respecting our belongings and respecting our environment. We came up with all the ways we could keep our corridors tidy and clean and how it can be sustained over the term and the year by all classes. The students understood how blessed they are to have a fantastic school and that other students in the world aren't so lucky so it's our responsibility to take care of it.
In Hoiho, a class of more senior students, our focus has been on how we can look after our community by attracting native birds into the school garden and making our garden bird friendly. As part of this we wrote letters to supermarkets asking for donations of peanut butter and birdseed to make birdfeeders. New World kindly replied offering us what we needed. Some students from Hoiho went down with Miss Shanks to New World to collect peanut butter and birdseed. We would like to thank Ana Vegar-Hammington for her generosity in donating these items to us. Making the feeders and putting them up around the school was fun for everyone. By making the birdfeeders we are doing the work Jesus did by helping to look after the birds in our school environment. Our challenge is to sustain a way of feeding the birds after this term is over. We think we have made a great start to looking after some of God’s creations that we find at our school! We were able to share our knowledge of Native Birds with a school in Costa Rica.
WHAT IS POPE FRANCIS REALLY SAYING TO US?
With many bogus announcements on social media it is easy to miss the true message to us from this extra-ordinary man.
We have collected together some amazing video footage of what this man is actually saying to the world in his own words.
Come and experience these wonderful videos:
Pope Francis’ most recent work is called Laudato Si. This will be covered in the evening.
In Laudato Si Pope Francis’ asks us to “REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1).
In Laudato Si Pope Francis does not try and set out a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions helpful for understanding this important subject, or a discussion of the various means of sanctification. He says ‘My modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. For the Lord has chosen each one of us “to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph 1:4)’.
Not everyone can handle the simple messages of faith Pope Francis has for us. Don’t be swayed by people that are providing their own version of what he is saying. Come and hear Pope Francis’ own words.
Over 100 years of mercy and wisdom in our parish
There is a group of women living in our parish who have established our schools and grown them to what they are today. They have done this so that everyone has access to a great education. Education that gives young parishioners a good start in life. These same women have quietly, without any one knowing, made sure families in the parish that are going through hard times don’t go hungry. These same women get around and talk with people who might not otherwise have people to talk to.
These women living with us are known as the Mercy Sisters.
They started ministering simultaneously in two areas in the parish over 100 years ago. Carrying their books and things for the day regardless of the weather, the early Mercy Sisters would walk over to Kilbirnie from Newtown. In Kilbirnie they would use the combined church and school building to teach the local parish children and care for the local families.
A woman who had originally been a Sister went out on her own to establish a Catholic school for girls, St Francis Xavier’s Academy (picture above), in Seatoun Heights. When in 1909 her venture got into difficulties the Sisters purchased it to open Star of the Sea Preparatory College for boys.
In Kilbirnie there was a large wooden building which stood on the hill overlooking the village, where St Catherine’s College Coolock Block now is, which Catherine Bourke, the wife of Mr M F Bourke had acquired. She had it transferred in 1917 with its mortgages ‘in natural love and affection’ to her niece Agnes Bourke, a Mercy Sister, for use as a place for the Sisters to live and base their work.
Parish Schools in Seatoun and Miramar followed. Today’s Sisters are based in Athens Street, Miramar. Their current ministry in our parish includes the continuing development of St Catherine’s College and looking after families in need.
Mercy Sisters seek to live the Gospel of Jesus by engaging in the works of Mercy, according to the charism of their founder Catherine McAuley. Together with their companions in mission, their vision is for a world where God’s generous love and mercy are experienced by all.
Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. From these small beginnings sisters and their companions in mission now work in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Sisters of Mercy were the first religious sisters to come to Aotearoa New Zealand arriving in Auckland on 9 April 1850. They came in response to a call from wāhine Māori.
From 1850 to 1897 four Mercy Congregations were founded in Aotearoa. On 12 December 2005 the four Congregations of Aotearoa united to become a single Congregation – Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand. This decision was inspired by the Sisters’ desire to become ‘a new creation for mission’ and underlines the truth that faithfulness to God’s mission means openness to the future and change.
Catherine’s vision of a world transformed by God’s love was fired by her deep conviction that she and her colleagues could make a difference to people’s lives. While each Mercy ministry has its own specific focus, it will include some or all of the following:
· Service to the poor - Catherine’s unique gift was to draw wealthy and poor into a mutually enriching partnership. Mercy is called to stand with the vulnerable, working to transform society by linking need with resources.
· Care of the sick and dying - The first ‘walking sisters’ nursed victims of Dublin’s cholera epidemic a year after the Congregation was founded. Today Mercy is especially committed to those who are very sick and old, combining compassionate care with professional skills.
· Empowerment of women and girls - Catherine recognised education as the key to improving life for women and their families. Mercy education is aimed today at empowering women in the search for a more just and sustainable world, and at equipping them for leadership in all fields of human endeavour.
· Advocacy - Enlisting the aid of people with power and influence was one of Catherine’s strategies for achieving change. Mercy is committed to speaking on behalf of those on the margins of society, and to joining with other voices in calling for constructive change.
· Commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Catherine’s sisters went only where they were invited and stayed only as long as required. It was in response to the karanga from Māori that the Sisters of Mercy first came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1850; today that response endures in a strong commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and to creative partnerships with Māori.
· Care of the Earth - Catherine’s spirituality enabled her to see God’s presence in the whole of life. Today Mercy is committed to preserving the integrity of creation, seeing human beings as connected with and dependent on all other living species.
The Sister’s do not hold back in standing up for people in need. They are a gutsy, hard working group of determined women.
Last year the entire body of students from St Catherine’s gathered at Parliament, joining with Sisters and supporters, asking for better housing for people on lower incomes. Mercy schools and communities from around the country contributed to a series of Shelter for All books. Each book has stories, pictures and poems reflecting the need for action against homelessness. These are not books so much as a gallery of people’s lives condensed and from the heart.
Catherine’s insistence that the “poor need help today and not next week”, calls us to respond in compassionate way. We cannot fix the whole world but we can stretch out to mend the part that is within our reach, one person at a time.
All young women in the parish seeking to follow Jesus in adventure at the edge of society where things aren’t always ordered and predicatable are invited to contact the Sisters in Mirarmar. Ring Sister Stephanie on 027- 2458859 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
When you contact them you will find that they will be interested in you and what you want to achieve. Don’t be under any illusion - these are hard working women because they are ultimately working for justice. They will want to discuss with you whether you are ready to make a real difference for the better, in the world.
After a time of exploring what you would like to contribute you have the option of living in one of the Mercy communities. From this you will get a sense of what it is to help people that are struggling and in need not next week but in the immediate moment.
When you confirm that this is the way you want to live your life you apply to become a novice. This is a two year commitment of study and prayer. If this goes well you can take first vows that mean you are ready for five years of deep reflection, growth and grace-filled joy. At the end of it are final vows and the tasks ahead!
On Good Friday many gathered to carry a cross through Seatoun to the beach and back. They paused along the way at significant places, including other churches, for Stations of the Cross.
At Seatoun beach everyone present was asked to gather stones from the beach to make a cross on the footpath. People passing through the day and into Easter will have seen the cross of stones.
Signs of Christianity such as us walking with a cross and the cross of stones at the beach help people to know that God is with them. Have you thought about what signs you show and leave behind in your daily work?
WHEN IT'S HARD TO PRAY
It’s true, praying is not always easy. When we find it hard we can go to Mass and in the Eucharist we eat Jesus and in a physical way He becomes part of us. This makes it easier to talk with Him and we find ourselves praying.
The Parish Prayer Group meets at 7am on Mondays to pray for our parish and parishioners. They rotate between the three churches of the parish. After they have finished praying they go to a nearby café for breakfast.
When it’s hard to pray, it can help when other people pray for us. The Parish Prayer Group would be pleased to pray for you and your needs over the coming month. Just send a text to Dave on 027 447 7280 or Kim on 0222426288. Send a name and a brief word description (no detail necessary) of what you would like prayed for.
This old lady is Mother M Bernard Redwood. As a Sister of Mercy she lived on the hill above Seatoun in the early 1920s, way before mum and dad were born. See if you can answer these questions about her and the Mercy Sisters. The first person handing in the right answers to the parish office gets a book voucher.
Are you ready?
· What are the clothes that Mother Bernard is wearing called?
· What sort of people wear these clothes?
· What is special about these people?
· Do they wear the same clothes today?
· What work do these people do today in our parish?
· Where do they live in our parish?
· How do you go about joining them in their work?
Now for a really hard question. If you get this right you won’t only get a book voucher but you will also get a very chocolatey bonus prize.
· Mother Bernard Redwood was related to a famous person in the early history of Wellington, do you know who that was?
If you meet a Sister of Mercy carrying on Mother Bernard’s work in our parish, say hello to them. You can ask them what they do and offer to help.
HOW WOULD YOU HAVE RESPONDED?
In driving rain a truck is in front of you. Unable to get out of the way the unthinkable happens. Fifty-six days later you wake up from a deep coma. Physical movement is hard. Even speaking is a challenge. For the following thirty years unable to work, you live a very different life to what you had expected.
What sort of person would you become?
Parishioner Mark Gardiner faced these ordeals. He is a faith filled person with a warm and generous spirit. For him there is but one response. He is grateful.
Talking to Mark at his home surrounded by photos of his family, he talks with love and gratitude for his wife and joy for what their eleven children have achieved.
Pressed hard he is emphatic in his gratitude for the cross he has been given to carry.
In Mark’s words “suffering is a part of life, everyone has a cross to carry, we don’t get to choose the shape or weight of it. It is given to us and when we carry it with faith it becomes a positive not a burden in our life.” In the words of Matthew 5:16, let your light shine so people will get to see how good our Father is.
With a growing family and successful business everything was ticking along nicely for Mark. When a friend introduced him to St John Paul on the Pope’s visit to Wellington, Mark was in awe.
Little did he know that only a year later his family would be keeping constant vigil at his hospital bed. Nor, that the friend that introduced him to St John Paul would have the Pope making a personal prayer for Mark’s recovery. But, these things happened and Mark emerged from coma, alive but disabled.
Today, Mark goes to Mass every day, praying the Rosary through the rest of the day. He is a contented man, happy to share his faith with others. In fact, he says having a disability draws empathy, making it easier to talk about and share faith.
Given the same circumstances, how would you have responded?
JOIN MARK IN PRAYING THE ROSARY
The Rosary is made up of groups of significant events or moments in the life of Jesus and Mary. The first contains joyful mysteries; the second, the mysteries of light; the third, the sorrowful mysteries; and the fourth, the glorious mysteries.
You don’t have to pray it on your own. Join the Rosary group at St Anthony’s prior to weekday Mass or join Virtual Rosary on You Tube. These You Tube videos will invite you to join others praying on line.
If you’ve been driving through Kilbirnie over the past few weeks, many of you will have noticed the security fencing and signage on parish property indicating that work has begun on preparing the former presbytery building for demolition.
The process is going well so far and the actual demolition of the building is now underway with the team being mindful of those living, praying and working nearby.
For most of us we will have been confronted by this visible sign of change in our parish. While the change will be bringing back memories of past priests and activities, no doubt the change will be making us think of our aspirations for the future.
For some of us it will be simple, a place to park closer to Mass or a reflective garden in which to sit and pray.
Fiona D’Souza, Director of Religious Studies, St Patricks Primary School, has made the following observations:
Ever since I joined the school a number of years ago, I’ve been very aware and very appreciative of the commitment of the Parish to ensure our Parish and school work together wherever possible. The Church of New Zealand, too, understands the vital role schools now play in the role of the Church and promotes the close relationship of parish and school.
It has been wonderful to see the Parish be so open to the needs and well-being of our students and going to great lengths to nurture the students’ faith, supporting and initiating involvement of the students in Parish activities; involving students by encouraging artwork for the church, sending parishioners in to the school to speak to the assembly about Parish ministries, having parish council members run a parenting course in the school for our parents, having parishioners help run the school breakfast club, sending a person in to write articles for the Parish magazine, having parishioners to help at the school’s ethnic food fair, allowing the school to have a key to allow easy access to the church for prayer and learning about the church, parishioners donating shoes for students in need, etc
Recently, I attended Mass in the Parish and was very concerned to hear the planned developments for the land becoming vacant with the demolition of the presbytery bore no mention of the school. I would like to offer some thoughts from our staff about the plans for the use of the land to ensure the development benefits the Parish and people as best possible.
I believe the new space provides a fantastic opportunity for us to head in a similar direction as the new parish centre of Our Lady of Kapiti whereby the Church, hall and school are all being built together on the same land. This will make for a thriving space which promotes the unity of Parish and school.
It seems to make sense that the land be used as much as possible to the benefit of the parish and her people. I do appreciate the need for additional parking. During the week days instead of sitting largely idle it would be wonderful to see the parks and garden utilised by the school students who are very much in need of more space.
I wonder whether it would be feasible to consider a slight revision to the plan such as the removal of the brown wooden fence separating the school and the parish. This could open up the space so that Church and school are not separated and would allow the new space (tarmac and garden) to be accessed by the school children, with the understanding on the occasions the space is needed it would be available for Church activities.
The Parish can be very proud this school is not only thriving but is noted in Wellington Catholic Education for the rapid growth in recent years.
The growing roll is really exciting! Having more students means the size of the playground has become problematic. Apart from the increased number of students, having re-capitated (adding intermediates) and having the older, bigger students is another reason for extra space. Unfortunately, in the last year or so there have been more accidents in the playground due to the shortage of space.
We are all fully aware of the benefits of physical activity and outdoor time, for physical, mental and spiritual health. In addition, we are very conscious of our responsibility to ensure the Health and Safety standards which are not only a professional obligation but also a moral duty.
Many of our students live in high rise council flats, with limited play space so, even though the space in our playground is very limited, the students are so desperate for space to run around they often stay at school well after the end of school bell has rung.
Allowing the students the use of the soon to be created space would enable the students to exercise and enjoy the benefits of playing outside with less risk and more safety. It just seems so sad to have the land empty during school days when it could be used by the young people in such desperate need of it.
During the month we will mark the life of St Laurence. Do you know what day we will do this? Do you know where to find the saint of the day? Try Goggling it and see what you get.
Like other saints St Laurence didn’t live a normal life and he certainly didn’t die a normal death. St Laurence was braver than most people. He stood up for what he believed to be right. When people where against him and put him to death, he didn’t change his mind.
St Laurence worked in the Church and looked after its treasurers. When the King at the time demanded that he give over the treasure of the church, St Laurence handed over what he felt was the real treasure of the church – the poor, the widowed, the sick and disabled. The King saw wealth in a different way, he demanded gold and worldly treasure. The King was so mad that he decided to slowly burn St Laurence to death.
As he burned, St Laurence didn’t yell out saying that he thought the King was wrong, nor did he yell out for someone to save him. Instead in defiance to the King and his bad ways he simply said that one side of his body was cooked and if he was turned over he would cook on the other side. This is how St Laurence died. He died holding to what he knew to be right. He died confident that the life after this one would be better.
Congratulations to last month’s winner Gerard Sullivan who won a $20 book voucher for his answers in our Lent competition.
A small group of parishioners gathered on a recent Saturday morning in the garden of St Patrick's with Fathers Gregory and Philip for a commemorative and thanksgiving prayer service before the Kilbirnie presbytery building is finally demolished.
They recalled and prayed for all those priests, religious and lay people who have lived, worked and been ministered to in the area over the years from 1929 - 2012.
They remembered the service given by the presbytery building.
The land the building is on was bought in 1881 by Archbishop Redwood as a seaside lot, (the seashore being just across the road) big enough for a presbytery and church. He realised that Wellington would grow and in the future there would be a large population living in this area. The purchase of this land would help ensure that their spiritual needs would be met.
From 1908, Mass was said regularly in a hall in Kilbirnie Cres and parishioners began to fundraise for their Church. In 1910 the first St Patrick’s Church was built. In 1919 St Patrick’s Parish was formally established with Fr Connolly as parish priest and Fr Michael Griffin as assistant. The scope of this “new parish” was Kilbirnie, Miramar and Seatoun! The presbytery in Childers Tce was built, then opened and blessed by Archbishop O’Shea in 1929.
Many Diocesan priests lived and ministered in the parish until 1996. Then the Capuchin Friars were invited to come in from the Northland/Wilton area.
In 2012 The Archdiocese informed us that the building was deemed unsafe for living, meeting and working in. After many lengthy consultations and processes it is to be demolished, but the land retained for possible future use. It is planned that the area where the building currently is will become a parking space for people using the Church and that the garden area be retained and developed further to become a restful and reflective space.
The Capuchin Friars have fortunately remained with the merger and development of our Holy Trinity Parish and are now living in Miramar. And speaking of Miramar….
…AND SPEAKING OF MIRAMAR
Two great and faithful parishioners were sitting after Mass talking about property issues in the parish.
They noted that some parishoners were concerned that a decision has been made on the Miramar Church.
Andrew Gunn, Chair of the Parish Council and Nick Crang, Chair of the Finance Committee, advise all parishoners that no decisions on the future of the Holy Cross Church have been made. They say that the Finance Committee has engaged an engineer to report on the steps that would need to be taken to improve the earthquake rating of the church. That will then be costed. After that, the options for the future development of the parish properties will be developed and then consulted on with parishioners.
Parishioners will recall that they were initially consulted at the end of 2016 on initial options following the work of the property sub-committee (which operated under the Finance Committee and Parish Council). At the time, it was signaled that further consultation on the options would occur, after the results of the initial consultation had been digested.
Nick says the consultation raised many issues and made the Finance Committee realise how complex the issues are. The other thing that came through was the strong connections that many people have to our buildings
One of the other things that we realised after the initial consultation was the need for the Parish Council to develop parish objectives, to help us through the property planning process, Nick comments.
Andrew Gunn said that those objectives were developed in 2017. “The Pastoral Council, outlined that from a pastoral perspective we see both St Patrick’s and Holy Cross sites as both holding strong but diverse strategic value. However, we acknowledge that the Holy Cross building has many unknown cost, planning, space re-development and structural issues, not the least it’s current 21% NBS or earthquake rating. We asked the Finance Committee, as a matter of urgency, to start the investigation required to establish the cost of strengthening of the Holy Cross Church to a compliance level whereby the whole Parish including Holy Cross School can once again enjoy this church. Nick Crang and his Committee have been working hard to secure a firm to commence these costing works. Given the recent earthquakes in the region and wider, the reality is that structural consultants have long waiting lists of clients. This work will commence in April.”
Nick acknowledges concerns about lack of information. He says that this had come about through delays in the anticipated process, rather than from information being withheld. “We have been working as hard as we can on property issues, but we ask Parishioners to recognise that they are complex issues to work through”.
Nick notes that “We have heard parishioners requests to receive full information on the Holy Cross Church. We will ensure that happens as part of the consultation process. We have always intended for the property planning process to involve the whole parish and for parishioners to feel, at the end of the day, that they have been involved in the process. It is important that all voices are heard”.
WITH SIGNIFICANT PROPERTY ISSUES AHEAD, LET US PRAY
Let us pray for wisdom
Proverbs 24:3-4 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Let us pray for provision
Exodus 25:1-2,8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the
children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering...and let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
Exodus 36:2-7 So Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and all the
others who were specially gifted by the Lord and were eager to get to
work. Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as
sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people
continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally, the craftsmen
who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses
and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the Lord has commanded us to do!” So, Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So, the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.
What does the Catechism say about prayer?
We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence: time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."
Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to "little children," to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.
As Easter approaches we will be thinking about whether we will be here or away on holiday. For those of us that will be around over Easter there will be many great opportunities to join in worship.
To start our worship with a clean slate be sure to join the parish Lenten reconciliation on Wednesday 28th March at St Patrick’s at 7pm. Be rid of all those things that have been cluttering your mind and activities.
The following day is Holy Thursday there will be no morning Mass at any of the churches, at 7pm at St Patrick’s there will be Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This Mass began in late fourth-century Jerusalem, where it became customary to celebrate the events of the Passion of Jesus in the places where they took place. In Rome at that time a Mass was celebrated at which penitents were reconciled with a view to participation in the Easter celebrations. The washing of feet that is now part of the Mass of the Lord's Supper was in use at an early stage without relation to this particular day, and was first prescribed for use on Holy Thursday by the 694 Council of Toledo.
When Good Friday comes we follow the Stations of the Cross or the key elements leading up to Christ’s crucifixion in procession. There will be three processions in the parish. We will be joined by sister churches in the processions.
Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion will then take place at all three parish churches at 3pm.
After solemn reflection of Christ dying on a cross and what it means for us we come to Easter Day. This is a day to enjoy Easter eggs. The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth. In Christianity it became associated with Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. The custom of the Easter egg originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. As such, for Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the empty tomb. The oldest tradition is to use dyed chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate!
A life of sacrifice for others
This year we will be celebrating 100 years of Mercy education in our parish.
In Kilbirnie there was a large wooden building which stood on the hill overlooking the village (today the site of St Catherine’s College Coolock block), which Catherine Bourke, the wife of Mr M F Bourke had acquired in 1908. She had it transferred in 1917 with its mortgages ‘in natural love and affection’ to her niece Agnes Bourke, called in religion Sister M Vincent, for use as a convent.
The new convent was named St Catherine’s and the first community to live there comprised Sisters M Chanel Burton, Evangelist Herring, Imelda Aisher, Gertrude O’Flaherty and Gerald Byrne.
Early last century our parish, like the rest of New Zealand, suffered under a great influenza epidemic in which many died. During the epidemic the schools were closed and the sisters nursed the sick in their homes and in temporary hospitals.
Sr M Chanel was nursing in the old St Patrick’s College temporary hospital in Cambridge Terrace. She walked each day from Kilbirnie to Te Aro and back again.
One day she called in to the convent at Newtown on her way home to get a drink. The Sisters there besieged her to stay that night as she did not look well but she insisted on going back to Kilbirnie as she needed medicine she had there for her patients the next day. On arrival at Kilbirnie she went upstairs to her room. At tea time someone went up to get her and found she herself had died from the influenza.
Today, in the foyer of the Te Atawhai block at St Catherine’s College there is a foundation stone which was laid in 1920 on the occasion of the opening of the first purpose built school on the site.
Translated the Inscription reads:
To the greater glory of God and the honour of the Mother of God.
This stone is placed in memory of Sister M. Chanel, professed religious of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy. She was notable for her faith, her prayerfulness, her love of God, and her love of the poor. She died the day before 1 December, 30 November 1918.
She was 49 years old. Pray for her.
A new year thought:
At the end of each day, we can stop for a few minutes to remember the good times and the challenges, the things that went well and those that went wrong. In this way, before God and before ourselves, we can express our gratitude, our regrets and our trust. This means praying in life, with life and about life, and it will surely help you to recognize the great things that the Lord is doing for each of you. As Saint Augustine said, we can find God in the vast fields of our memory.
– a quote from Pope Francis, verified by Missionz.
Don’t believe everything on Facebook
Just in case you were wondering, there is some pretty crazy stuff on Facebook. Even if it comes with a really nice smiley photo. What you are reading isn’t necessarily fact or even close.
The new year was full of all sorts of weird stuff like this one with a photo of the Pope suggesting that we don’t need to worry about believing in God anymore. These sorts of posts will usually come through to you from a friend forwarding them from a friend. Who knows were some of them started out.
Referring the post to the Apostolic Nuncio, he has commented as follows:
Many thanks for your message. At present all of us have to learn new skills in order to distinguish fake news from authentic news. Unfortunately, that does not only concern politics, but also the Church. The first step is to check news that sound strange, especially when there is a quotation without indication of its source. This one does not show its source, and you have done the right thing: to check. Congratulations!
I can assure you that the quotation you have sent me is a fake. Of course, as a fabrication it is not stupid, because it gives the impression not to be as far from the truth as in reality it IS. For example, the sentence “for many, nature can be a church”, mirrors the subjective feelings of many people. However, nature can NOT be a church. A building and the Church itself can never be replaced by nature, as some people might feel. A church, and the Church, are what they are: a (sometimes steamed up) mirror of Christ.
Just as an illustration of the kind of campaign going on against the Pope, I quote (no fake!) from the following article: Marco Politi, “Choppy waters for the ship of St Peter: Francis, a progress report Premium”, in: The Tablet, 03 January 2018: “Approval ratings for the Argentinian pontiff continue to be very high, and not only among Catholics. Far beyond confessional boundaries, he is recognised as a moral authority and geopolitical leader. His stand on migration, refugees, on the ever-growing inequality between rich and poor, on sex trafficking and the “new slavery” that exploits millions of workers, and his repeated emphasis on the tight link between environmental deterioration and growing social injustice, has made a broad impact on the public. Inside the Church, meanwhile, a sort of civil war is going on. Opponents say Francis is a communist, a feminist, a populist, or is in such thrall to the spirit of the age that he has dramatically squeezed the sacred from the papacy, betraying tradition and divine law. It would be a mistake to consider the Roman Curia the main or only centre of opposition. For sure, the curial apparatus is partially frustrated and dismayed, since it feels that under Francis it is losing its almost military aura as Catholicism’s chief of staff. But broad resistance to Francis has roots all over the world in the local churches.”
If you are left wondering about the authenticity of material that pops up on your Facebook page, a quick way of checking it is to copy and paste a section from it into Google. In the resulting Google search that comes up take particular note of the web-site addresses of the sites displayed. If one of them is an organisation associated with the quote then clicking on the search link will help you to verify authenticity.
Here’s your chance to make a difference
The Justice Select Committee is now asking for public submissions on David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice Bill’. The Bill seeks to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide (called ‘assisted dying’ in the bill) for people with a terminal illness or a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition.
Many of you will have made a submission to the Health Select Committee inquiry about ‘Ending Life in New Zealand’. Because of the overwhelming number of submissions against euthanasia, parliament took notice and your voice made a difference.
However, the Justice Select Committee inquiry is different because it is specifically about the Bill. A submission is your chance to have your say on the Bill.
Your voice counted at the time of the last round of submissions. Your voice will count again in the new round associated with the Bill.
Could you please send an email with you views? It is simple, just follow these steps:
Thank you in advance in taking this important step in protecting the lives of the vulnerable in our community.
Fr Paul is a precise man. When he writes his homilies he counts the number of words used and measures his delivery time. His homilies are measured to be no longer than ten minutes.
Right now he is particularly busy as he prepares for our parish’s Christmas Novena.
It is hard to squeeze all that is to be said for each topic into ten minutes. Fr Paul promises simply a taste on each topic. There will be enough on each topic so that everyone gets an experience of the topics as they prepare themselves for this great season. It is hoped that the Novena will provide a common spiritual preparation for Christmas.
The Novena will start at 7.00pm at St Patrick’s Church each evening from Friday 15 December to Saturday 23 December. The topics covered will be:
Often when Christmas Day arrives we burst on it in a rush. This year could be different. Here is the opportunity to slow down, to take a breath, to reflect. Here is an opportunity to be truly ready for the birth of Jesus.
It has to be said that when we take time to reflect through a Novena there can be things that weigh on our mind. To be ready for the Christmas season it is important that these burdens are wiped away. Reconciliation will be available at each of the nine Novenas.
Come Christmas the hope is that whatever this year has been like for you, you can enjoy a very happy Christmas and peaceful new year.
Congratulations to Ana Ffaatoia on completing Seasons for Growth training to support the prison chaplaincy team. Ana lives in Miramar having arrived in Wellington from Auckland two years ago. She is active in Vinnies youth and young adults formation in service, leading activities through the Vinnies Facebook group. Working in prisons helping inmates to centre themselves and prepare to return to the community is a natural extension of this work.
Pictured with Ana is Sr Veronica who leads the prison initiative. She is convinced that if we can help inmates with their grief, we can help them to find balance. To join this important mission contact her at email@example.com .
The school year is coming to an end. What’s been happening?
The building programme at St Anthony’s is just about complete. In the above picture Principal Jennifer Ioannou cranks up the Pullman S26 Ermator super vacuum to clean away building dust as one of the newly renovated classrooms is finished off prior to students moving back in. The programme has seen all classrooms earthquake strengthened and the senior block renovated to a modern and flexible learning environment. At a cost of $450,000, the programme has been a substantial commitment, funded by the Archdiocese.
But, Jennifer is quite clear the buildings are not an end in themselves. One of her main focuses is the students. Now in her third year as principal she says everything that happens in the school must be centered on the goal of helping each student to grow, develop and learn to the best of their ability.
Holy Cross School Principal Celeste Hastings has been at the helm for eleven years. She has seen a lot of change over that time. Along with Holy Cross School Board Chair Brendon Baker, she wrote to the parish recently to express her thoughts for the future of the Holy Cross community in the context of the building programme. This is what they wrote:
As we understand it there are two main options being considered:
1. A church / sacred space being built on site at Holy Cross School- with consideration being given to a parish office and presbytery.
2. The current church, parish office and presbytery being upgraded.
At our meeting we revisited previous discussions regarding the future of Holy Cross Church including the possibility of having the church and school on one site, as is the case for the other two churches and schools that are part of the Holy Trinity Parish- St Anthony’s and St Patrick’s- this too is our strong desire.
We would therefore like to record our unanimous support for having Holy Cross Church on the school site so that we could become an integral part of the Holy Trinity Parish enabling us to work together to nurture the faith journey of each of our families and facilitate a reconnection between church and school.
Children and young families are the future of our church and we wish to support them to find their place within the church- this we know to be in keeping with the discussions at the recent Synod and, we believe the vision of our Cardinal and Pope.
The reality of having a church or sacred space onsite would not only be a visible sign of unity and collaboration but would present a daily ‘invitation’ to our students and their families to be part of this. For many of our pupils, school is their only experience of a faith community; having the church as a physical part of a parish /school complex would add an extra dimension to the worshipping side of the Catholic faith (rituals and traditions). This would help to give the students a more natural experience and a wider view of a 'faith community'.
We, as you, are aware of the necessity for change and creative thinking within this period of struggle for the Church given the decreasing number of clergy and those actively involved in church life.
We have heard of a successful precedent being set in the Nelson with shared church and school facilities; we are motivated toward such an initiative, to explore possibilities for growing the Church for tomorrow. In 2015 Cardinal John shared a power point presentation about Stewardship and he said when he attended his first Stewardship conference a phrase that really struck him was: “BELONGING DOES NOT COME FROM BELIEVING; BELIEVING COMES FROM BELONGING” - We have a unique opportunity recreate this sense of belonging for our families so we urge you to consider our request with open hearts and minds.
Nenah Kelemete is Acting Principal at St Patrick’s School as Vanessa is on maternity leave. In the picture above she holds up her dinner, purchased at the recent ethnic food fair at the school. The food fair was packed with students and their families as they celebrated the great diversity that makes up St Patrick’s School. Congratulations to orgainiser Fiona D’Souza on an awesome occasion.
Nenah says she has loved her short time at the school as the children are amazing. Vanessa and her new baby are going well and Vanessa will be back in term three next year. Meantime, Nenah says she will continue to fill in, enjoying the wonderful school spirit at St Patrick’s.
JESUS IS BORN, NOW WE MUST FIND HIM
The carol "Oh Come Divine Messiah" has lyrics like this:
Oh come divine Messiah, The world in silence waits the day, When hope shall sing of triumph, And sadness flees away
Yes, in those days life was very simple as we waited in silence, full of hope that good will soon triumph over evil thereby ridding our lives of sadness.
Those words were so meaningful and bring back pleasant memories of Christmas yesteryears.
Christmas is a commemoration of God's coming into the world. He came for all of us - believers and non-believers alike. His birth should bring us hope and triumph which will dispel the sadness from our lives. But after years of celebrating Christmas after Christmas many of us are yet to see that triumph in our lives and our hopes may be giving way to despair. Has the Messiah really come? If He has where is He? Why doesn't He bring the triumph that dispels the saddness of man?
The real problem today is that we are waiting for God to literally come to us. We celebrate His birth just like that of any one of us - offering prayers, eating, drinking and making merry. We celebrate his coming into the world but we do not welcome Him into our hearts and lives.
Yes, He has come into the world and is very much in our midst but unfortunately we refuse to recognise Him therefore fail to welcome Him.
By being born to poor parents, in an environment of extreme poverty, Jesus is telling us where He dwells - not in places of majesty and glamor but among the poor and the down-trodden, the sick and dying, the hungry, the oppressed and in those we love and even in those we hate. In short He is among the masses.
Amidst our celebrations this Christmas, let us pause a while to look around us to recognise that Jesus who was born into the world two thousand years ago. He is among us in every person and in every trial and tribulation we encounter in our lives. Let us take a moment to look around to recognise Him in those who do not have joy and peace in their lives.
Let us do the little within our means to alleviate the pain and misery in their lives. Let us do whatever we can to give them the hope that triumph will one day wipe out the sadness in the hearts.
We too, like Jesus, must have the humility to come down from our positions of comfort and power to meet Him in the people around us. If we isolate ourselves from the masses by building a fortress around us with all our wealth and power together with greed, selfishness and pride, then we can keep waiting for Jesus all our lives but it will only be in vain.
To us then His birth into this world, that is Christmas, will be just another day to celebrate, eat, drink and make merry. It will never become the day when hope shall sing of triumph and sadness flees away.
Read, reflect and pray on this month’s Gospel readings so that you can fully understand the Word at our Sunday Masses this month.
Sunday 3 December – Mark 13:33-37 Jesus said to his disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
Sunday 10 December – Mark 1:1-8 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit."
Sunday 17 December – John 1:6-8, 19-28 We know the covenant, we need to come back to basics to be good followers. We must let go of our own ideas even if that means moving into uncomfortable space.
Sunday 24 December – Luke 1:26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Ian Mac Donald has kindly written to explain the source of the stained-glass windows in St Patrick’s Church:
The window in the side chapel was commissioned and donated by Mrs Zelda Famularo in memory of her son who died at the age of only 8 when he was struck by a car in Lyall Bay. After the Church was completed Mrs Famularo approached St Patrick’s Church Redevelopment Committee and asked about the possibility of donating a window. The committee settled on John Abramczyk of Vitrum Stained Glass in Auckland whose design of Mary and Jesus was the one that Zelda selected.
The Sisters of Mercy did indeed donate lead-light windows that were recovered from St Catherine’s College Chapel when it was demolished. The windows offered to the St Patrick’s Church Redevelopment Committee after the new church was built. It was then too late to incorporate them into the outside walls of the building. Three of them were built into the windows beside the doors leading from the lobby into the main church. The other four each had their two-section timber frames refurbished and joined into one and were hung inside the plain glass windows on the south and east outside walls. At a later stage Fr. Paul Clarke had the windows trimmed and incorporated into four doors in the church and had the plain glass windows on the south and east walls replaced by obscure glass.
The other lead-light window that surrounds the tabernacle was commissioned by the Church Redevelopment Committee to match the windows donated by the Sisters of Mercy.
And an update from the Finance Committee on the St Patrick’s presbytery:
As previously advised, the parish has received a notice from the Wellington City Council to demolish St Patrick’s Presbytery or fix the unreinforced masonry on the building by 31 March 2018, under the WCC’s unreinforced masonry programme.
There being no identified parish use for the building and given the costs of fixing the building, the parish has received in principle agreement from the Cardinal to commence planning for demolition, confirming his earlier decisions. The intention is to retain the land for future parish and/or school use, with that still to be determined as part of overall parish property planning.
Final approval from the Cardinal is subject to obtaining quotes for demolition (currently underway) and an interim plan for the site. The finance committee is considering a car park for this interim use. You might also notice some minor pre-demolition work in or around the building.
There was a discussion and information session on these points after the 10am St Patrick’s Mass on Sunday 26 November.
It is recognised that many parishioners have strong connections to the Presbytery. This will be acknowledged appropriately before the building is demolished.
These are difficult decisions to make, but brought upon us by circumstances. We hope that they will enable us to move forward to realise the Church’s mission in the Eastern Suburbs.
St Patrick’s Primary School annual food fair Friday 17 November, 5.30 - 7.30pm. Bring your whole family for a great evening
The parish pastoral council has released a draft of the Pastoral Objectives for our church communities. These Objectives set the framework for the property review and the outcomes required to meet the pastoral, spiritual, cultural and social needs of the parish now and into the future.
We are a Parish of Mission, committing to:
BUILDING A FUTURE
With the Parish Council having set the path for our future the Finance Committee is now in a position to work with the terrific response received earlier this year on how our buildings might develop. The submissions received can be viewed on the parish website under “Property”.
The programme is broken into two, dealing with the immediate and building for the future based on the Parish Council’s work.
The Wellington City Council under its unreinforced masonry programme has given us to 31 March next year to strengthen or remove the St Patrick’s presbytery. This is an immediate priority. The Finance Committee has not identified a clear pastoral need for the building and the costs of securing it would be large. The Committee is investigating demolition options as well as immediate uses for the land as it is demolished.
Using the Parish Council’s visionary work and parishioner submissions to consider the path for our property will take longer to consider. In the main the submissions received suggested that people are comfortable with what they have become used to. The Parish Council is challenging us to be more imaginative about what our future may look like. While change can be unwelcome and upsetting it can also be liberating and bring renewal.
The stained-glass window from the St Catherine’s convent was gifted to St Patrick’s by the Sisters of Mercy to be included in the current church as it was built. This window features in the side chapel of the current church.
100 years of Mercy education in Kilbirnie
The area known as the Eastern suburbs was first owned by James Coutts Crawford after the city of Wellington was established. He drained the lagoon in what is now known as the Polo Ground in Miramar by digging a trench and then a tunnel through the hill into Evans Bay. The route to get to this area was a track round the bays then along the foreshore on Kilbirnie Crescent, turning into Childers Tce then Queens Drive to reach Lyall Bay. Here many of the Wellington settlers holidayed. In 1868 James and Alice Bourke bought land from Mr Crawford and built the first house on the hill above Childers Tce in 1869. Mr Bourke established a wool scouring business on the flat land. The Patent Slip Company commenced in Evans Bay that year too and so made it easier for Mr Bourke to get his completed product to the harbour for shipping overseas. Mrs Bourke died in 1913 and Mr Bourke in 1915. They are buried in Mount Street Cemetery in the city.
Mr Crawford sold sections from 1877 and people lived in the area because it was easy to get into the city by the road round the bays and there were jobs available with Mr Crawford and Mr Bourke. Archbishop Redwood bought a seaside lot big enough for a presbytery and church in 1881. This is the present St Patrick’s Church and former presbytery site on Childers Tce and Kilbirnie Crescent corner.
Catholic education at St Catherine’s School began in 1917. However, the Sisters of Mercy had begun teaching in the Kilbirnie area before that. This area was part of the Newtown Parish and had a church, St Patrick’s, as a Mass centre in Kilbirnie. The Church had a wing built on the north side and here two Sisters began a small school for the local children. The Sisters, Sister Mary Rose Foran, Superior and Sister Mary Paschal Hayes, travelled from Newtown daily. The wing had folding doors to separate the school from the church and every Monday morning the big boys from St Anne’s came over to put out the desks and chairs and stack up the forms used for seating at Mass. On Friday afternoons they reversed the procedure, stacking the desks at the back and putting out the forms before folding back the big doors.
In 1912 the rooms at the back of the church were remodelled to form a convent. This was known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin as it was done at the suggestion of Tom Bourke. The first four Sisters to live there were Sr Mary Chanel Burton, Superior, Sr Mary Paschal Hayes, Sr Mary Imelda Aisher and Sr Mary Evangelist Herring. The school outgrew the space and in 1925 St Patrick’s School was opened on its present site.
The Sisters of Mercy bought the Bourke House at Childers Tce in late 1916 from Mr MF Bourke. They established the St Catherine’s Convent, buying the property at a generous price. When St Catherine’s School opened in 1917 there were six pupils: five girls, Margaret and Wyn Collins, Patricia Jackson, Hazel and Amy Lucas , and one boy, Bernard Griffiths, all of whom lived locally. The children were taught in the convent’s Community room by Sister Mary Angela Butler. In the mornings they were taught Religious Studies, English, hand-writing , arithmetic and reading. In the afternoons the girls were taught Home Science such as cooking, embroidering and hand-sewing. Bernard went to the Basin Reserve where he was tutored in sporting skills particularly cricket. He became a successful cricketer, playing 12 first class games for Wellington between 1931 and 1938.
In 1918 the group of children increased. St Catherine’s was a Catholic school for children, both boys and girls, and was fee-paying.
The Spanish Flu epidemic broke out in early October. On 12 November the school was closed, along with all schools, offices, exhibitions and movie theatres as a precaution against spreading the disease. The Sisters became volunteer nurses, going into the homes of local people who caught the flu to nurse the patients and care for the families.
If people in a house were ill they hung a white cloth, usually a towel, at the front door or at the gate as the sign that help was needed. Some of the Sisters also nursed patients in the temporary hospital set up at St Patrick’s College in Cambridge Tce. In November, while nursing flu victims there, Sr Mary Chanel Burton caught the flu. She died on 13 December. In October and November the death rate in Kilbirnie and Lyall Bay was 15.6% with a population of just 2,237 people, the highest death rate in the Wellington area.
Honouring lives well lived
Attending a person’s funeral is a way of honouring that person’s life and their achievements. It is also an acknowledgment that they have died, and we are called to pray for the dead. It gives support to the mourners, family members and friends. We don’t have to speak to them; our presence at Mass is a tangible sign of that support. We are there as part of that person’s Faith Community to support the family. We also know when to sit and stand and move forward to Communion. This is a practical sign for those people attending who perhaps are not regular Mass attendees or who belong to different Faiths and so don’t know what to do. The Celebrant gives explanations, but it is useful for newcomers to see what is done and to follow suit. It is also an opportunity for us to attend Mass. So, the next time you see a parishioner’s death notice, note the time of the funeral and attend as part of our Parish Family.
Sunday 5 November - Matthew 23:1-12 We can have good intentions but lose the big picture. We don’t want to put restrictions on others to the point that it is hard for them to find their way to God. Worst still would be to place others in special regard only to knock them down. The greatest amongst us will be our servants. We seek to deal with all people with gentleness and compassion.
Sunday 12 November - Matthew 25:1-13 Sadly, not everyone will come to be with Christ. Some will be disowned. Keep awake in all that you do. Show in your everyday actions that you understand good from bad and how to stay on the side of good. It is easy for us in fatigue and become absent minded, getting sloppy in how we honor and care for others.
Sunday 19 November - Matthew 25:14-30 God gives us everything we have. We can choose to use all we have to the full or hide away. Hiding our talents is not being humble, it is shrinking away from what is good. The time will come and we will be measured. Will we be able to say that we made full use of our talents?
Sunday 26 November - Matthew 25:31-46 Our actions in our everyday life sort us. We are not all good or all bad. There will be bits of our being that is good and other bits that aren’t. We need to encourage ourselves to be generous, to reach out to others and be help to them.
Relax with the Gospels
The Mayo Clinic suggests relaxation techniques for stress management. Relaxation isn't only about peace of mind or enjoying an interest. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as heart disease and pain.
Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you've already got it tamed, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy. Relaxation techniques also are often free or low cost, pose little risk, and can be done nearly anywhere.
One of the most fundamental relaxation techniques is prayer. In prayer we let go of this world and connect with what we know the source of love to be.
One of the easiest ways to pray is with the Gospels.
Sr Stephanie Kitching is resident in our parish as part of the Mercy community in Miramar. She reflects on the Sunday Gospels in a series weekly videos. These videos are available on our parish website. You are warmly invited to play the video for the week at: http://www.holytrinity.parish.nz/gospels.html . On listening to the video drift into prayer, think about what you have heard and it is saying to you in your own life.
The following are brief summaries of the weekly Sunday Gospels for this month, to get you started.
Sunday 8 Oct – Mt 21:33-43
God has trusted each of us with a vineyard. We have a job to do and we must bring all our talents to this work. We can’t turn a cold shoulder to those we come in contact with in our work. Our good work and our generosity will be signs of the Kingdom of Heaven. We can bring peace.
Sunday 15 Oct – Mt 22:1-14
Many are invited to church, not all take up the invitation. Some don’t know that they have a standing invitation. These people are as loved by God as anyone. Let’s be generous in how we help people to know that they are invited. We need to be able to listen to them, to be open to what they say and their ways, best of all we can tell them just how much they are loved and yearned for.
Sunday 22 Oct – Mt 22:15-21
We want to use our time for good. We want to use the things we have for good. In the busyness of life it is easy to overlook what we have been given and how we might seek out those most in need of what we have.
Sunday 29 Oct – Mt 22:34-40
Do we go to church because we have to? Probably not. We go to church because we get to hear what love is and get opportunities to show it.
Last month Holy Cross school and community welcoming Father Paul Nag to Holy Trinity. We would like to acknowledge and thank the students and families who came to the Mass to support with the pōwhiri, providing a meaningful and authentic introduction to New Zealand culture. A special thanks to Hēnare Walmsley who, despite being unwell, travelled from the Wairarapa on Sunday morning to be present and lead the welcome and blessing. Thank you to the students who willingly stepped into leadership roles when others were unwell. Thanks too, to the teachers who made themselves available to support our students and our parish.
At the start of Term 3 St Anthony's School ran the Keeping Ourselves Safe (KOS) programme. Each class chose their KOS focus and discussed ways they could keep themselves safe in lots of situations, including online safety. The Year 5 to 6 students (Kea Class) were given an egg to care for as part of the KOS programme at the Year 4 to 6 level.
The purpose of the egg sitting activity was outlined by the KOS programme: The students were responsible for the egg for four days and had to care for the egg at all times. They named their egg and created a bed (bassinet) for it. If the students wanted to leave their egg, they had to engage another person to egg-sit! If the student's egg breaks, they were not allowed to replace it.
The aim of the activity was for students to learn to look after themselves and others – a theme that is woven through the KOS programme. The added hope was that the students would gain an appreciation of the hard work that parents do!
Kea took their egg sitting responsibility very seriously and showed amazing care and commitment to their precious yet vulnerable cargo. Egg holders of all varieties were created and egg sitting became a full-time activity during morning breaks and lunchtimes in the first week of the term. The children quickly came to realise just how precious their eggs were and how they were responsible for the well being of their egg at every minute of the day and night.
"For a week, we had to look after an egg and no one knew why to begin with. I think it was because we have been learning about keeping ourselves safe. We learnt that when having something to look after you need to show responsibility. I put my egg in a small box so it would not roll around and I also put lots of soft things in it to make him stay in one spot. To keep my egg safe I took it everywhere so I would not lose it. Lots of people made homes for their eggs." - Charlotte Badger, Yr 6 Kea class
This term in Week One my class did the egg challenge for Keeping Ourselves Safe. The egg challenge is when you are given an egg and you need to look after it for one week without breaking it. The egg challenge is really, really hard because only 12 of the 23 eggs survived. The egg challenge is also very hard because you need to give up your morning tea to look after your egg. On day one of looking after our eggs, some people were nice enough to look after not just their eggs but other people's eggs. You need to be sure that the person is trustworthy. This is the reason why we did the egg challenge. We did it because we needed to learn how hard it is to look after another person or something precious and vulnerable. - Fraser Lindsay, Year 5 Kea class.
The following quote from Laudato Si by Pope Francis shows us just how we must not only protect ourselves but also be responsible for and aware of our own actions and how they impact on the world around us - our common home.
“Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So, we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.” Quote 43. Pope Francis
Attendees were broken into small groups that prayed about each issue. Rather than a discussion there were three rounds. In the first round everybody got to say what had been important to them in prayer. In the second round they got to comment on what had impressed them in what others had said. Then in the final round recommendations were formed. With 26 groups working on recommendations a small committee then tried to pull what had been recorded into final Synod wide recommendations to Cardinal John. For most people at the Synod this was a new and novel approach.
Did it work? Ultimately, you as a member of the parish and diocese will be the judge. Synod recommendations matching into our parish vision included:
...is editor of our monthly magazine. If you have news and views to share please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org