On Sunday May 28th people from St Joseph’s school and parish in Hawera, including Deputy Mayor Phil Nixon, gathered for the opening of the new Mission Centre.
The opening was held after the 9:30am mass. Bishop Charles Drennan blessed the rooms of the Mission Centre, which was followed by speeches in the hall and a performance from the school Kapa Haka group.
Despite the bad weather, Bishop Charles said that the blessing and opening was “a really joyous occasion with lots of positive feedback and excitement.”
Kaumatua Ray Edwards encouraged the people to be unified around the success of this new venture.
The Mission Centre combines the school and parish administration areas into one shared building, with the school and parish secretaries working open-plan alongside each other, and the principal and parish priest’s offices under the same roof.
Bishop Charles noted this has changed dramatically the foot traffic into the heart of the parish: “young parents and children and all their energy are a part of the Mission Centre, which is the heart of the school and parish alongside the Church.”
It is a unique venture for the Diocese.
For the school and parish staff, the changes will take a bit of getting used to.
Parish priest Fr Craig Butler said the closer contact between the school and parish is a positive outcome, and that he is “enjoying working with the staff of the Mission Centre.” Parish Secretary Patrea Clement noted that although things are now quite different, the Centre seems to be working well.
The school secretary, Raewyn Dombroski, has received a positive response on the new Centre from parishioners and parents.
Bishop Charles answered some questions on the Mission Centre.
What is the vision behind the Mission Centre?
“To make real our hope to fully integrate the school with its parish.”
What was the inspiration for the Mission Centre?
“During visits to our Wairoa parish I was impressed that their parish office was located in a spare classroom, and therefore was in the heart of the school. Some might say, ‘what difference does that make?’ What struck me during my visits was that the priests knew every child by name and something about each of their families. And the children all knew their priests by name. That’s fantastic. This is my expectation for all priests and parishes in our Diocese. In larger parishes and colleges this goal may never be fully realised, but we can never turn a blind eye to the scriptural image of the shepherd knowing his sheep by name.”
Why was Hawera chosen for this venture?
“The parish was facing the prospect of building two new administration areas, for the school and the parish. Building two new buildings seemed to me to be backward-looking, an old model of Church, and a waste of scarce financial resources. The Mission Centre is a realization of how we now think of ourselves as one faith community or iwi whakapono. The days of parish/school divide are over.”
Why the name ‘Mission Centre’?
“I used the term during a consultation meeting in Hawera, and it must have taken to people’s hearts. I was delighted to learn that the local Māori described the mission of the Centre as the whakapono mahi, or the work of faith, the work of passing on our faith to the next generation. This encapsulates exactly why we are here. And so the Mission Centre is good news for Hawera and South Taranaki”.
Photo supplied by St Joseph’s School, Hawera