E te iwi whakapono, tena koutou tena tatou katoa,
I hope you have all been able to have a good rest over the holidays. Last year was a full year for our Diocese with, among other things, the completion of the unification of parishes. I wish to once again thank everyone who was involved in that process, which has impacted positively on so many of our people.
This year, with the universal Church, we are striving to immerse ourselves in the depths of God’s mercy. Much “work” has already been done in this regard including the provision of resources and reflections on our website. The number of pilgrims to our Cathedral is growing with classes, parishes and ethnic groups indicating their intentions to visit. It is important that we ponder the reality that fundamentally, as a Holy Year, the Year of Mercy is a call to conversion, to radical change within, as we seek to grow within us the heart of God in order to “be merciful even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
I invite you all to read my homily preached at the opening of the Year of Mercy available on the Diocesan website http://pn.catholic.org.nz/?sid=2514. It has also been published in the first edition of Wel-Com.
On our local level, I would like this year to keep as a focus of pastoral initiatives Dynamic Consolidation. The reference to consolidation arises in the wake of the parish unifications which have impacted on the pastoral areas also incorporating our smaller parishes. The word dynamic pertains to the nature of the Holy Spirit, our diocesan “patron”, and aptly describes all aspects of church life (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4).
It is easy for any organization to become static, whether in thinking or activity, but when we humbly recognize that our endeavours at growth are a response to the Spirit’s prompting, then we can gain satisfaction from the efforts of so many, including our school Principals, DRSs and tagged teachers, helping to grow our parishes.
Dynamic pastoral collaboration between parishes and their schools has seen a very significant rise in the number of baptisms over the last couple of years and our 2015 October Mass Count recorded on average 8 percent higher participation at Sunday Mass over the previous year.
As your Bishop I have, as it were, stuck my neck on the line on various occasions by publicly expressing my desire and wish that we grow – in faith and in number.
I am convinced that our pastoral planning should be sharply focused on growing our faith communities or iwi whakapono – continually weaving families and individuals into the fabric of parish life. Even if our efforts do not result in statistical growth, it is the drive for growth that keeps us faithful to Christ’s mandate: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Other matters: I have attached a note regarding the decree recently issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Disciple of the Sacraments about the Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday, and about the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent. Also FYI find attached a letter being sent to parents enrolling their children in our schools.
I wish to inform you that the following people have recently joined the diocesan staff and been welcomed among us:
- Mark Ferguson, Credit Controller Attendance Dues
- Marcy Coralde, Accounts Administrator Attendance Dues
- Tom Dravitzki, Manawatu Youth Minister
- Jane Dravitzki, Primary RE Adviser
- Mike Delany, part-time Secondary RE Adviser
Finally, the Cathedral parish hosted a very nice farewell to Fr Peter Fahey last Saturday which included a good number of people from parishes at which Fr Peter had previously served. I again thank Peter for his many years of full-time priestly ministry and wish him well in semi-retirement.
To priests commencing new commencing new appointments, I offer again my thanks and I know you will have been warmly welcomed already.
May our loving God continue to bless us and our families and all those we have the privilege to serve.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+Charles E. Drennan
P.S. Providentially, I have just been reminded that Valentine’s Day (14th February) this year falls on a Sunday. I would ask liturgy committees and parish priests to ensure that the vocation of marriage in the Church and for the world is honoured during the Masses of that weekend.