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.
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