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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.
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