All posts by Cardinal John Dew

About Cardinal John Dew

Archbishop of Wellington: His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew DD

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 8 February 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

From +John…

Dear Friends

This time next week we will be in Lent and Pope Francis has told us in his 2018 Lenten Message: “Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.” He went on to say, “I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth.” They are wonderful invitation to all of us, and for all those we minister to in our parishes, teach in our schools and colleges, and those we interact with in daily life. It’s an important and essential question to ask ourselves in prayer throughout this time of Lent – ‘What do I need to do to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly in every aspect of my life?’ and ‘What do I need to do to experience this time of grace anew?’

It is also important to ask ourselves how we help others to do this. We probably all struggle ourselves to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and could do with an encouraging word or smile, a promise of prayerful support, or even an invitation to pray with someone else. Lent is an invitation to “think differently,” to think differently about how we pray, about how we either do or don’t do everything as a disciple of Jesus. Therefore, another helpful question is ‘In what ways can I think differently about my life to be renewed and live whole-heartedly for God?’

Two days after Lent begins, Friday 16th February, is also the day for all Catholics throughout New Zealand to observe the Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims of Abuse and Violence in New Zealand. Last year the Bishops Conference was invited with other Bishops’ Conferences around the world to join in a day of prayer for the victims of abuse and violence (this was at the suggestion of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors). The New Zealand Bishops decided to hold this day at the beginning of Lent. We all know that many people are the victims of violence in our society, especially many young people. Sadly, we know too that young and vulnerable people have been victims of abuse at the hands of some Clergy. It is appropriate that we have a day to pray for ALL victims of violence and abuse and to acknowledge again the terrible impact of abuse by members of the Church, and all other violent and abusive acts in New Zealand. Please pray for them on Friday 16th February.

Suggestions for Prayer of the Faithful 16 February 2018

• That the cries of those who have been abused in body, mind and spirit, suffered in violent relationships and betrayed by the trust they placed in others, may call forth from us a passion for justice and reparation. Let us pray to the Lord:
• That those who live and work with our abused and violated brothers, sisters and children may bind tangible ways to affect renewed dignity, healing and forgiveness. Let us pray to the Lord.

With every blessing for a prayerful and Spirit filled Lent.


As the End of Life Bill starts the process of being debated in Parliament Please all invoke the intercession of Suzanne Aubert

Dear Friends,
At our Archdiocesan Synod last year one of the proposals was “The Archbishop with the Council of Priests supports the ministry of preaching in a planned and resourced way.” We will be working on that throughout the year ahead. Yesterday (7th February), at the General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Mass. He spoke of the Readings and the Homily. I have therefore extracted the part about the homily as he makes some very important points that are well worth all of us reflecting on.
With blessings


“I have already addressed the argument of the homily in the Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, where I re-called that the liturgical context “calls for the preaching to orient the assembly, and also the preacher, to a communion with Christ in the Eucharist, which transforms life.”

One who gives the homily must fulfil well his ministry – he who preaches, the priest, or the deacon or the Bishop, offers a real service to all those taking part in the Mass, but those who hear him must also do their part. First of all, by paying due attention, namely, by assuming the right interior dispositions, with-out subjective demands, knowing that every preacher has merits and limitations. If sometimes there is rea-son to be bored by a long, or unfocused, or incomprehensible homily, at others times, in stead, it’s preju-dice that is the obstacle. And one who gives a homily must be conscious that he’s not doing something of his own; he is preaching, giving voice to Jesus, he is preaching the Word of Jesus. And the homily must be well prepared; it must be brief, brief! A priest said to me that once he went to another city where his par-ents lived and his father said to him: “You know, I’m happy, because along with my friends we found a church where there is Mass without a homily!” And how often we see that during the homily some fall asleep, others chat or go outside to smoke a cigarette . . . Therefore, please, make the homily brief, but it must be well prepared. And how is a homily prepared, dear priests, deacons and Bishops? How is it pre-pared? With prayer, with the study of the Word of God and by doing a clear and brief synthesis; it must not go beyond ten minutes, please.”


The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 25 January 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends

Happy New Year and all good wishes and blessings for 2018.

Over the last few days I have been really delighted and heartened to hear of a whole range of initiatives that parishes and Archdiocesan organizations are taking or planning for this year. I have been particularly delighted to hear about how last year’s Synod proposals are being reflected on, prayed with and discussed so that they can be built into goals and plans for the year ahead.

In the latter part of last year a few people said to me that they hoped that the Synod would be effective and that the final document of the Synod would not just lie on a shelf and be forgotten. The Synod will be effective if we ALL continue the kind of discernment process we used, and look to see what we can do to make those 96 proposals reality. The Synod reflected on being sent to find new leaders, about adventurous people with initiative who can lead the parish in identifying and responding to community needs, and how to encourage them to come forward. That is starting to happen and I am very grateful. An example of this is happening this weekend in Star of the Sea Parish, Marlborough, where there is to be a gathering of people from all over the parish in the Kaikoura end of the parish. Since the 2016 November earth-quake Kaikoura has been isolated. Now that the road is open (most of the time) people will gather in Kaikoura for Mass, a BBQ and have time to reflect together on how they will respond to the Synod proposals.

As well as what is happening in parishes, the Archdiocesan General Manager and the Directors of Finance, Youth and Family, Parish Leadership, Education, Catholic Social Services, Tūranga Māori have all reflected on the Synod and are building into their plans for the year ways they can focus on achieving some of the hopes and expectations of the Synod.

I love the quote from the writer Thomas Moore which says: “It’s my conviction that slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts at change… deep changes in life follow movements in |imagination.” We have a volume of rich material in our Synod document, the fruit of many hours of prayer and discernment and the collective wisdom of many people. It is going to be wonderful this year to see how parishes, organizations, and schools can use this material, not necessarily by making major changes, but by “slight shifts in the imagination” which will bring new life and energy to the mission we are privileged to share together.

Just a few days ago I discovered some words of Brother David Steindl-Rast: “Live as if nothing is promised to you.” If we live this year as if nothing is promised to us, the world does not owe us a living, recognizing that all is gift and God is the Giver behind the Gift, then this will be a wonderful year.

I wish everyone a year of blessings, a year of making “slight shifts in our imaginations,” a year recognizing that all is Gift.

With abundant blessings
+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Midnight Mass 2017 Homily – Cardinal John Dew

Christmas 2017

Do you have a Christmas heart?

A few days ago, I prayed with a meditation which was written for people with Christmas hearts.  It said, “these are songs to be sung in today’s over commercialised world, they are to help people to remember WHO Christmas is.” Jesus Christ is not a written text or an abstract idea, Jesu sis a living person.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page a photograph of a life-sized Nativity scene in a supermarket at Petone.  I was astounded at the number of people who saw that Facebook post.  Thousands of people saw it, dozens of people commented on it. They made comments such as –

  • it’s good to remember WHAT Christmas is all about”,
  • “it’s time to think about WHAT we are celebrating”,
  • “it’s time to stop and think WHY we do all these things.

We could reflect on Christmas in terms of WHAT or WHY – but it is more important to reflect on WHO Christmas is.

In the very first homily Pope Benedict gave as Pope he said, “each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, to be surprised by the encounter with Christ.”

That means being surprised by WHO not a what or a why.  The WHO is Jesus – Jesus born at Nazareth.  We are surprised when we meet Jesus.  We meet, we encounter Christ tonight.

Pope Benedict also once said “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we meet Jesus, when we hear his words and try to live by those words our life is given a new horizon and a decisive direction.

It is usually easy to relate to babies – like all babies Jesus grew up. That means we don’t spend our life relating to the baby Jesus, we spend our lives listening to the adult Jesus who speaks to us, who lived, who died, who was crucified and rose again.

However, this night, this day is to remember when the mystery of God’s presence in our world began. St Paul, in his letter to Titus reminded us that God’s grace has been revealed, made known to us through Jesus born into our world.  God’s grace, God’s kindness has made salvation possible for the whole human race.  God’s grace did not make a WHAT or WHY known, God’s goodness and kindness made a person known, Jesus.  “Today a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

In one of his first Angelus messages after being elected Pope Francis was talking about the love of God.  He said “the one who sows love in our hearts is God.  But what is God’s love?  It’s not something vague, some generic feeling.  God’s love has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, love for God is shown to us in Jesus.” Do we know Jesus who has a name and a face?

My greatest wish and prayer for you, for each of us this Christmas, is that we will carry Christmas in our hearts, that we will carry Jesus in our hearts, and like God be kind to each other.

One of those of meditations which prompted me to reflect on Who Christmas is said

“more than anything else

I want to give you Christmas this year,

it’s a gift

an offer. 

You can take it,

if you like,

but I can’t really give it to you

like a wrapped-up package,

it’s deeper than that.

It is warmer, brighter, lighter,

it is more personal. 

Christmas is more challenging

than a wrapped-up package

it is an offer,

it is a mystery,

it is birth,

it is hope,

it is Christmas

and God can never be born enough.”

God can never be born enough in our world….you and I bring Jesus to life.

God could be born a thousand thousand times in Bethlehem but if he is not born in our hearts it would all be a waste of time.

Christmas is about who came to live in our world, about who continues to come and be born in our hearts.

“Today a Saviour has been born to you he is Christ the Lord.”


Cardinal John’s Newsletter 9 November 2017

Dear Friends,

It is almost a year ago since the Year of Mercy ended. I was privileged to be at the Final Mass for the Year of Mercy celebrated in St Peter’s Square by Pope Francis. At the end of the Mass he officially released a document called Misericordia et Misera. In that document, he implored us to continue being merciful and wrote: “Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very exist-ence, through which the profound truths of the Gospel are made manifest and tangible. Everything is revealed in mercy; everything is resolved in the mer-ciful love of the Father.”

He asked us to do something special at some time throughout the year and to be creative with Scripture so that it could engage us in a different and vibrant way. On Sunday 29th October, all our parishes were invited to use Lectio Divina to help people to engage with the Gospel in a different way. I have received many emails and heard many comments from people who very much appreciated this opportunity. They loved and appreciated the silence, the chance to focus more deeply on the Gospel, and the fact that there was time to pay closer attention to the Word of God. Thank you for doing that, it has helped so many people to reflect more deeply on the Gospel.

Pope Francis also asked the world to observe the 33rd Sunday of the Year as the World Day of the Poor, which this year is. 19th November. I am sure that parishes, schools, colleges and families will think of many initiatives that can be taken to help one another become aware of the situations of poverty in our own towns and cities. I am sure that will also flow over into practical actions to assist those find it a struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet. For the World Day of the Poor we have provided a short video with some of the messages of the Holy Father about pov-erty throughout the world. This short video has been created with the help of Caritas, the St Vincent de Paul Society and Fr James Lyons. I am most grateful to them. Parishes are invited to show this video at Masses on the World Day of the Poor (19th November) and all are asked to reflect on how we might do something to help those people who do struggle.

Please remember that Mercy cannot become a parenthesis in the life of the Church. We are called to respond in mercy every day. What special effort will you make for the first World Day of the Poor?

With every blessing


Cardinal John’s Newsletter 26 October 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
“Thanks be to God for all he has done and is doing for us.” These words were one of the most used phrases of the Venerable Suzanne Aubert. I believe that here in New Zealand we can genuinely say those words with her. We can say them in gratitude for all that she was and is for the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

On Saturday 14th October we had a wonderful day with the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion as they celebrated 125 years since the Congregation was founded by Suzanne Aubert. It was a great day as we joined the Sisters in giving thanks with them and for them. The day began at 6am with a solemn and beautiful celebration led by the Mana Whenua as every-one was welcomed and processed up the pathway through newly landscaped gardens to the chapel where Suzanne has been laid to rest. There was a solemn blessing of the crypt and of the Resurrection window by Iwi leaders and me, a Powhiri followed, and then blessing of the other new buildings includ-ing the Visitor Center. The whole day was a truly bi-cultural celebration which honored Suzanne and her legacy, the Sisters of Compassion. Miha Maori (Maori Mass) concluded the celebration during which the sisters renewed their vows and we all gave thanks with them. Included in all of this was, of course, very generous hospitality which included breakfast and lunch.

The magnificent resting place of Suzanne, the Resurrection window, (and the other windows in the crypt area), the Visitor Center, the gardens outside are all worth visiting. The Home of Compassion at Island Bay has always been a holy place, a place where all have been welcomed warmly and with gracious generosity. Go and visit. Go and pray at the tomb of Mother Meri Hohepa. Go to the Visitor Center and learn more about this incredible woman whom we are waiting to be de-clared New Zealand’s first canonized Saint. We are still able to learn so much from her. Go and visit and learn with her how to say “Thanks be to God for all he has done and is do-ing for us.”

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.