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:
ROLE MODEL FOR US ALL
It was a wonderful privilege for Tui Class at St Anthony’s School to meet Mr Peter Jack at Mass last term after he gained the Queen’s Service Award for services to rugby and athletics.
What made it even more special is Peter has been part of our community all his life, beginning at St Anthony’s as a 5 year old in 1951.
When he talked to the students Peter was clear that he learned how to serve others whilst a young boy at St Anthony’s.
What a wonderful role model for us all.
With the feast of Pentecost we are reminded that we have Te Wairua Tapu to help us spread the Good News. Here are some of the Tui Class students’ thoughts as to how Mr Peter Jack does this:-
• Mr Peter Jack fulfills the mission of the Church by showing constant commitment to his passion. He spent many years doing the best he could to improve himself as well as others. He does not stand on the field, quoting the bible, but instead he shows the bible messages through the actions he takes. Jesus did not tell stories of Moses and instead did his own actions. They are very alike - Ruben Manz
• Mr Jack fulfills the mission of the Church by giving time to others - teaching sports. He is giving his time to others to help them reach their potential. Doing all this he was honoured with a medal: The Queen’s Service Medal. Although he was hit by a shot put in the face (during one event) he persevered and kept doing what he loves. This injury didn’t stop him - Olivia Wypych
• Mr Peter Jack has fulfilled the mission of the Church by organising and supporting sport activities. He has played a big role in a number of sports clubs . He shows kindness and devotion and it is clear that the Holy Spirit is strong in him - Devlin Crang
Most people in the parish will know Peter as a dedicated Mass goer who participates actively. At Good Shepherd he serves as a welcomer. He attends Mass during the week across the parish and is enthusiastic in his prayers of the faithful, always thinking of the needs of others.
Thank you Peter for your great example.
Last month we asked Rongotai electorate candidates to comment on the euthanasia debate and the Bishop’s election statement. Green Party candidate Teall Crossen was the one candidate to respond. She responded as follows:
Apologies for missing your last Friday deadline to respond to your question about how I would vote on the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Green Party position on euthanasia and assisted suicide is that adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death. Medically assisted dying needs to be backed-up with appropriate medical and ethical safeguards such as two independent doctors approving the decision. The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities. My vote would be consistent with this position.
The Green Party has always been a strong voice on social and environmental justice are committed to building a New Zealand we can all be proud of, with a clean environment, vibrant economy and real equality for everyone. We believe every family deserves access to good education, a fair income, and a healthy and affordable home. No one should be left behind and with our policies we will enable families and communities to thrive. Many of our policies support the vision outlined in The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ 2017 Election Statement Step Out and Vote.
I am standing for Parliament because I want to use my experience to be part of creating a New Zealand where we all look after each other and the environment.
Be sure you know the position of the candidate you intend voting for. If you have concerns there is benefit in contacting the candidate with them. The church position on euthanasia follows as assistance in considering this important issue.
Nathanial Centre perspective on euthanasia
In New Zealand we are currently witnessing renewed calls for euthanasia to be legalised. Those in favour of euthanasia promote the understanding that 'a dignified death' or 'death with dignity' rests on our right to have control over our own death, including the right to have someone end it for us at a time of our choosing.
The Catholic tradition, along with many others, rejects this understanding. As discussed by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life: Human life comes from God; it is God's gift, and is a sharing in God's own breath of life. We cannot do with human life as we will. Its sacredness gives rise to its absolute or unconditional value, something that is written from the beginning in our heart and in our conscience.
The belief that human life has unconditional value means that it is not dependant (or conditional) on the way others value us or on the way we value our own life. Neither is it a reality that derives from, and therefore depends on, some form of legal concession made by our society or the state. Rather, our human dignity exists independently; it belongs to us by virtue of the simple fact that we exist. Two obligations flow from this principle; (i) the obligation not to intentionally harm or destroy life and (ii) the positive obligation to nurture and support life. In the Bible the unconditional dignity of human life is revealed in the commandment not to kill and comes to its culmination in the positive commandment of love for one's neighbour as affirmed by Jesus in the Gospels.
All forms of intentional killing, including the euthanasing of another person, are therefore morally wrong no matter what the circumstances.
It is noteworthy that in response to the latest discussion about euthanasia the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) has spoken out strongly and unequivocally against the involvement of doctors in this practice. Its Chairman has been recently quoted as saying that doctors are "trained to promote life ... and no matter what the law of the land does ... the New Zealand Medical Association will still say that the deliberate act of killing a patient is unethical."
For some people death comes suddenly and unexpectedly. For others, death is preceded by a period of terminal illness. The latter provides a time for the sick person and their family and loved ones to contemplate and prepare for death. It is a time in which we find ourselves confronted with opportunities, challenges and fears.
At such times the relational and spiritual aspects of our lives come to the fore. For those of us who are Christian it is a time to appreciate again, and grow more fully into, the unconditional love God has for each of us.
The opportunity to prepare for our own death, or to walk alongside someone who is dying, also presents as an occasion for human growth. Death does not simply happen upon us from the outside. Rather, it is a process that calls us to be active even as we face the inevitability of our mortality and accept that the postponement of death is beyond our control. These situations call for great courage, hope, love and faith. In such circumstances 'a dignified death' is one in which we courageously face our mortality, hopefully surrounded by the love and support of family, friends and our faith communities.
When medicine can no longer provide a cure for persons at the end of life the proper management of a patient's pain and other physical symptoms is vital. We are obliged to provide treatment only where we can, but we are obliged always to care for the person who is dying, including the alleviation of pain.
The Catholic tradition relies on a clear moral distinction between killing and allowing to die. "Killing is any intentional action or omission bringing about the death of another; the cause of death is the human intervention or omission." On the other hand: "Allowing to die is withholding or withdrawing futile or overly burdensome treatment; therefore, the disease or fatal condition overtaking the person is the cause of death." In effect, the outcome of withdrawing or withholding futile or burdensome treatment is that it returns the patient to their dying. This is not euthanasia. The withdrawing of futile or burdensome treatment reflects good medical practice.
In applying the principle that prohibits killing, the Catholic tradition also makes a moral distinction between killing and those actions (such as the administration of pain relief) that may have the foreseen effect of shortening a person's life. The intention of the health professional involved is a critical factor in determining the acceptability of such actions. If the health professional concerned directly intends the death of the patient, then the action is wrong because, as already noted, all forms of intentional killing are wrong irrespective of how well-meaning the person may be.
If, however, the health professional's intention is solely the relief of their patient's pain but their action inadvertently has more than one outcome – one outcome positive (relief of pain) and the other negative (an earlier death) – then their action is morally acceptable.
In summary, euthanasia is not to be identified with the use of such medication as is required to alleviate pain nor with the withholding or withdrawing of futile or burdensome treatment.
Sr Stephanie on: FINDING YOUR TREASURE
When I was young sometimes my mother used to take me to auction sales. Mum had an eye for bargains. She would peer into the cartons of what looked like junk. You could almost hear her mind ticking over.
Then, when bidding started, always clear in herself about the top price she could afford to bid, she would join in. Occasionally she came home with winning bid items.
Then the fun started. It might be a mixed lot of crockery, so it would all be carefully lifted from the carton and sorted. Often there was an unexpected bonus, an item not visible, but hidden underneath other things. We would wash everything. The best piece would be displayed proudly on a shelf beside other treasured items. The chipped pieces would be put away for use as animal feeding bowls or as storage containers in the safe…no such thing as a fridge in those days.
Any pieces of crockery not suitable for immediate use, my generous mother gave to Vinnies for others’ use.
My experience with my mother taught me that what is most valuable is not always evident. Rarely did she bid on the glitzy, flash things. Mostly they were things which had meaning or use for her, or for our family.
What is of meaning or use for you today in your life in Christ?
Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is what we must consider our treasure…but where do we find this treasure? Simple, says Jesus….in a field.
For me at least, the field where the treasure is hidden is my life. Jesus’ call is to uncover what lies beneath the surface of my life.
We can so easily travel with eyes half closed, treading the daily routine steps, hassled by business or other distractions.
But in Baptism our eyes were anointed - we can see the treasure as we immerse ourselves in Christ. The trouble is, will we recognise the treasure for what it is?
Another type of auction my mother took me to was the fruit and vege auction near Courtenay Place. We would walk into a huge, noisy warehouse which was filled with men, seeking to buy in bulk for their greengrocery business or dining facilities. Just a few ordinary people like my mother were there. It was exciting.
Again my mother would scout out the bargains. When the time came, she would bid and sometimes win an 18 kilogram case of Golden Queen Peaches….they were cheap in those days, but even cheaper because the cases my mother bid on were almost at the stage of being discarded.
When we arrived home the kitchen was turned into a bottling factory. We children would lift out each peach, wash it, then remove the blemishes and bad spots.
What was not good for eating was still used in the compost heap to help grow more food. Nothing was without meaning or use.
My mother would cook the peaches and then bottle them. At the end of our endeavours there would be rows of large preserving jars of golden peaches all ready for winter desserts. Sometimes visitors would leave our home with a jar, the fruit of her labours. Mum knew when she purchased the case that there was good fruit among the not so good fruit. She did not avoid the less welcome.
In our lives, our field often throws up not so good things…. sadnesses, injustice and wrongdoings which affect us greatly. Somehow we need to accept these at a deep level. Peace can be found knowing Jesus is with us, and will stay with us, in this difficult space.
Eventually we will find a heart so wise and understanding that we will recognise the Kingdom has been with us throughout.
Are we up to the challenge of searching our field and finding the treasure within in whatever form it is offered to us?
Are we able to gift our treasure to help build the Kingdom?
Time in reflection and prayer, even if it is only for a few moments some days, deepens our awareness of God in our lives. This time with God bears much fruit.
I finish with a Prayer of Awareness.….
It is in the depths of life that we find you
at the heart of this moment
at the centre of our soul
deep in the earth and its eternal stirrings.
You are the Ground of all being
the Well-Spring of time
Womb of the earth
the Seed-Force of stars.
And so at the opening of this day
not for blessings from afar
but for You
the very Soil of our soul
the early Freshness of morning
the first Breath of day.
Sr Stephanie lives in the Mercy community at Holy Cross School and is on the board of St Catherine’s College
AND NOW WE ARE THREE
Fr Paul joined Fr Ephrem and Gregory in July from India.
He is from Ranchi in Northern India, home of Indian cricket captain Dhoni. As a student he very much wanted to be a priest. On the same day two offers of training arrived and he had to make a decision. In the end the decision was simple he was drawn to the example of St Francis and wanted to follow his way. St Francis separated himself from the wealth of his family, to live a simple life of devotion in the love and peace of Christ, motivated to help the less fortunate. The Caupicians, as followers of St Francis, became the obvious choice for Fr Paul.
On making it to the seminary he met Fr Gregory and together they studied. While Fr Gregory went out into parish mission, Fr Paul stayed on at the seminary to lead the formation of new priests. He describes life in the seminary as disciplined, a structured way of life that helps to guide and form. During his time in the seminary he helped people to deepen their relationship with God and find the way in which they could share the message of faith with others. Fr Paul also took time to study in Rome and be involved in parish work. Seeing the mission work of three Caupicians in China he was drawn to pastoral work. It was a hard and difficult mission for the three priests but they persevered and saw results for their work. He patiently waited for the right opportunity for pastoral work.
The right opportunity was Wellington, New Zealand. Fr Paul has arrived with an open mind and an open heart. He is on a three year work permit. Arriving at Holy Trinity Parish there has been an easy transition. Being back with Fr Gregory and meeting many new faces he is excited about what lies ahead. He has found New Zealanders to be relatively free of inhibitions and very approachable. More than anything Fr Paul sees his time in the parish as an opportunity for him to learn. Since arriving he has visited rest homes, schools and attended a formation day at Viard College. Concelebrating Mass with Fr Gregory, it is just like old times.
With three priests now in the friary things become easier. Fr Paul is busy learning the rode code. With his driver’s license he will be ready and able to make a full contribution. If one priest is away there is better coverage and the parish can tick along without disruption.
An immediate change will be a lot more pasta at meal times in the friary. While studying in Rome Fr Paul not only learnt to speak Italian he also learnt to cook Italian.
In commenting on the upcoming general election the New Zealand bishops have commented on how the world is changing. Things like terrorism and fake news are challenging the way we see the world.
We can make a positive difference. Our vote is important, it is a vote for New Zealand and what it can become.
The Bishops have asked us to think about how we vote in terms of support of vulnerable people most particularly the very young and old. We have been asked to be supportive of immigrants and people of different ethnic background.
Families need affordable housing, prisoners need a second chance and the mentally ill need support. Taxes to support government activity should be fair and in everything we do we should be caring for our planet as it’s the only one we’ve got.
BEING ELECTION READY
Following on from the advice of the New Zealand bishops, we emailed local Rongotai National representative Chris Finlayson and new Labour candidate Paul Eagle as well as all of the smaller parties asking them to comment on what their party seeks to achieve in light of the Bishops’ comments. We also asked them how they would vote on euthanasia given that any vote is likely to be a conscience vote rather than a party vote.
We were a little surprised that neither Chris nor Paul have replied. We did however get a message from the Maori Party. They emailed back to say “Thank you for your email and apologies for the delayed response. Unfortunately our leaders unit are under considerable constraint at this stage and won't be able to forward through a comment on behalf of the party within the given timeframe. Ngā mihi“. Well, at least they responded!
So, if by chance you meet any of the Rongotai candidates, here are some questions you might like to ask them:
For some of the older members of our electorate they may not be able to care for themselves, they may not have family nearby, what happens if they can’t afford care in a place like Rita Angus? What can be done for them?
Led by our St Vincent de Paul Society we have been helping refugees settle in to our area. Government has a role. What can be done to ensure we offer high quality, positive value-add support to make our former refugees feel at home as soon as possible? What support is there to ensure we know how they are settling in and that their needs are being met? Are we proud of our treatment of our refugee families and is there anything more we could or should be doing?
There are large areas of government land in the Rongotai electorate including land where earthquake prone state houses have been pulled down. How can this land be used to help people struggling to get housing?
We didn’t used to have beggars in our area, we do now. Some people say these people have mental health issues and need special care. Others say the benefit system doesn’t meet everyone’s needs and people fall through the cracks. Regardless, what do we need to change so that people don’t feel they have to beg to survive?
When it comes to the environment, our electorate is kept clean by strong winds but we are just as polluting as other areas in the transport choices we make. How can the range of transport options be broadened so that we have less polluting options?
...OR TAKE THE DIY OPTION
Initiated by our St Vincent de Paul group in early 2016 and since led ably by Annette Bridgeman and her band of helpers simple efforts can make a big difference in people’s lives.
1. The SVDP visitor delayed their weekly visit until a couple of hours after lunch time before calling at the lonely person’s place. “Are you alright?” the visitor said. “Yes, yes,” she replied sobbing, “I just thought that no-one was going to come to see me today”. Our visit may be the only contact someone has had with another person in the week. This is an example of how much a visitor is appreciated by the lonely person, even if it doesn’t involve much to do.
2. A SVDP member visits elder parishioners in rest homes around the region. Some lonely residents meet only those who pass their door. Their family and friends may have died, or moved away, or cannot come and see them unless there is a crisis. The visits enable the lonely person to recall stimulating memories from the past and feel loved.
3. A father of school-age children lost his job and was out of work. The family was in dire need as the mother suffered from ill-health and could not work. Over several weeks, a SVDP member took around a bag of food items, toiletries, milk and bread each week from the foodbank. This small donation helped the parents cope with the needs of their children, and showed them they were not completely alone in their troubles.
4. A refugee family was really struggling to make ends meet after arrival in New Zealand whilst the adults looked for employment, but straightaway the kids needed uniform items, shoes and stationery for school. Kind parishioners had made donations for local students in such dire need. The SVDP member met the family at the shops, helped them choose the right gear over a couple of hours, and paid the shops directly for the goods from parishioners' donations. We hope we showed them our Holy Father’s assurance to migrants and refugees that “they have a special place in the heart of the Church”.
5. Through a hospital chaplain we learnt of two overseas visitors who had dashed to NZ to be with their hospitalised son (who thankfully recovered). The cost of airfares and motel was tough, leaving little for food. SVDP members took bags of food to them during their stay and drove them to the airport departure. The parents expressed their “heartfelt appreciation for receiving such love and help from strangers on the other side of the earth”.
A St Vincent de Paul member and a parish pastoral council member are teaming up at our seven Masses across Holy Trinity Parish on the last Sundays of July, August and September to seek our prayers for those in need, boost their membership and parish participation, asking us to be watchful to those in need, and resurrecting the Conference of St Vincent de Paul in St Patrick's Church community Kilbirnie.
When we have read ahead, when we have reflected on the Sunday Gospel coming up, we are ready to fully participate in the liturgy of the Word. Rather than the Sunday Gospel being a surprise and we are trying to keep up, we are in amongst it, hearing what it has to say for us. The following Sunday Gospel summaries are to help you join in our Sunday celebration.
Sunday 6 Aug – Mt 17:1-9
See Jesus in a new light. He is the beloved son. He is present for us. The glory of God has been brought to a human level so we can understand.
Sunday 13 Aug – Mt 14:22-33
Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone and go beyond our fears to make a difference.
Sunday 20 Aug – Mt 15:21-28
Honest persistence gets heard. Jesus recognises our faith. We try, we don’t seem to make progress but when we look back things have changed, we have been guided.
Sunday 27 Aug – Mt 16:13-20
If Jesus asked who you are, what would you say? Peter was a great example of faith in the face of doubt. He didn’t always get it right but he is a great example for us to follow.
POPE FRANCIS ON CHRISTIAN HOPE
Today we reflect on Christian hope as the strength of martyrs. When in the Gospel Jesus sends the disciples on mission, he does not mislead them with mirages of easy success. On the contrary he warns them clearly that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God always involves opposition. And he also uses an extreme expression: “and you will be hated — hated — by all for my name’s sake” (Mt 10:22). Christians love but they are not always loved. Jesus places us before this reality from the start. In a somewhat strong measure, the confession of faith occurs in a hostile climate.
Christians are therefore men and women who “go against the tide”. It is normal: because the world is marked by sin which manifests itself in various forms of selfishness and injustice; those who follow Christ walk in the opposite direction. Not due to an argumentative spirit, but because of loyalty to the rationale of the Kingdom of God, which is a logic of hope that translates into a lifestyle based on the instructions of Jesus.
And the first instruction is poverty. When Jesus sends his [disciples] on a mission, it seems that he takes more care to “strip” them than to “clothe” them! In effect, a Christian who is not humble and poor, detached from wealth and power and, above all, detached from self, does not resemble Jesus. Christians travel their path in this world with the essentials for the journey but with their heart filled with love. The true defeat for him or for her is to fall into the temptation of revenge and violence, responding to evil with evil. Jesus tells us: “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mt 10:16). Therefore without jaws, without claws, without weapons, the Christian will have to be rather prudent; at times even shrewd. These are virtues that are accepted by the logic of the Gospel. But never violence. In order to overcome evil, one cannot use the same methods of evil.
The only strength Christians have is the Gospel. In difficult times, one must believe that Jesus is before us and does not cease to accompany his disciples. Persecution is not in contradiction to the Gospel but rather is part of it. If they persecuted our Teacher, how can we hope to be spared the fight? However, in the midst of the storm, Christians must not lose hope, thinking that they have been abandoned. Jesus assures his disciples: “even the hairs on your head are all numbered” (Mt 10:30); as if to say that none of man’s suffering, not even that which is most minute and hidden, is invisible to the eyes of God. God sees and certainly protects; and he will give his redemption. There is in fact in our midst Someone who is stronger than evil, stronger than the mafia, than the obscure conspiracies of those who profit at the expense of desperate people, than those who crush others with disdain.... Someone who has always listened to the cry of Abel’s blood from the earth.
Christians therefore, must always be found on the “opposite side” of the world, that chosen by God: not persecutors but persecuted; not arrogant but meek; not charlatans but submissive to the truth; not imposters but honest men and women.
This fidelity to Jesus’ style — which is a style of hope — until death, was to be called a beautiful name by the first Christians: “martyrdom”, meaning “witness”. There were so many other possibilities offered by the vocabulary: it could have been called heroism, abnegation, self-sacrifice. Yet the Christians of the first hour identified it with a term that suggests discipleship. Martyrs do not live for themselves; they do not fight to assert their own ideas, and they accept having to die solely out of loyalty to the Gospel. Martyrdom is not even the supreme ideal of Christian life, because over and above it there is charity, that is, the love of God and of neighbour. The Apostle Paul says it very well in the hymn to charity, understood as love of God and of neighbour: “If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:3). The idea that suicide bombers may be called “martyrs” is repulsive to Christians: there is nothing in their quest that can come close to the attitude of the children of God.
Sometimes, reading the stories of so many of yesterday’s and today’s martyrs, — who are more numerous than the martyrs of the early days — we are amazed at the strength with which they have faced the supreme trial. This strength is a sign of the great hope that animated them: the certain hope that nothing and no one could separate them from God’s love given to us in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 8:38-39).
May God always give us the strength to be his witnesses. May he give us the opportunity to live out Christian hope especially in the hidden martyrdom of performing our daily obligations well and with love.
...is editor of our monthly magazine. If you have news and views to share please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org