Category Archives: Cardinal John’s News

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 8 March 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
I invite you to look at the Holy Fathers prayer intentions video for this month. He tells us in this short video clip “the time in which we live calls us to develop a deep capacity for discernment.”

Last year in the process leading up to our Archdiocesan Synod we used a prayerful process of discernment. Time after time people spoke to me about how much they appreciated using this discernment process, and about how they were applying it to other areas of their life, the Parish Council, the Liturgy Committee, their family lives, and for many just the way they lived out their daily lives as disciples of Jesus. So many people appreciated this opportunity and how this “time of discernment” enabled them to make a better and more informed response to daily life situations, a Gospel response.

Later this year there will be a Synod in Rome, the theme of which is “Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” In his message about it, Pope Francis asks young people to reflect on their past and how “the Almighty has done great things” for them. He encourages young people to be aware of the present moment – not to be frightened by it or by their own self-doubts, but to take courage and be open to accepting the Lord’s invitation to engage and to lead in Church and in society.

Discernment is very important for Pope Francis. In this month’s prayer intentions, we see a woman walking through a park with a map in her hand while trying to find the right path. She decides to ask various people for directions. However, each one of them gives her a different answer. Desperate because she can’t find her way, the woman decides to sit down on a bench. She puts the map down and asks God for help. Through her internal reflection, she discovers the answer she was looking for.

The Pope is asking all Catholics “to discern the Lord’s voice among all the voices; which is His voice that drives us to the resurrection, the voice that frees us from falling into the culture of death.”

The Holy Father explains that everyone needs to internally decipher what the Lord asks of him or her to live with love and continue his mission of love. He reminds us that every Christian ought to grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life and to understand where and to what he or she is being called to by the Lord to carry on the mission God has for us.

Pope Francis also asks the Church to recognize the urgent need for formation in spiritual discernment, on an individual level as well as in communities. I have no doubt that this kind of discernment is need-ed today in a world where there are so many voices clamouring for our attention, where there are so many things distracting and preoccupying us.

Are we open to learning more about discerning how to listen for the voice of the Lord? Remember “If only you would listen to him today, do not harden your hearts …”
Psalm 95:8

With every blessing
+ John

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 22 February 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends

For the last few years Pope Francis has invited the world to participate in 24 Hours of Prayer for the Lord. He has requested this again this year with the theme being “With you is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4). This year the Church of Sts Peter and Paul (Lower Hutt) in Te Awakairangi Parish will host this time of prayer from 6pm Friday 9th March until 6pm Saturday 10th March. This 24 hours will be, as People Francis calls it, “a moment of grace.” I have written to all parishes asking that this be promoted and people be encouraged to come, and I have asked priests to be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This will all take place within the context of Eucharistic Adoration.

As well as the request to participate in the 24 Hours of Prayer for the Lord, Pope Francis has also called for an ecumenical day of prayer and fasting for peace for tomorrow 23rd February. This prayer is to have a particular focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Pope Francis made his call on Sunday 11th February in his Angelus address. “Faced with the tragic continuation of conflict in several parts of the world, I invite all faithful to a special day of prayer and fasting for peace on this coming 23 February, Friday of the First Week of Lent. We will offer this in particular to the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan. As on other similar occasions, I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to participate in this initiative in the ways they consider most appropriate, but all together.”

I realise that this is late notice and that we have not had time to arrange anything ecumenically, although Arch-bishop Philip Richardson (Anglican Primate in New Zealand) and I have made a joint statement about this. Even with this late notice I reiterate the request of the Holy Father and ask for prayers for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan.

As I make these requests for these two special times of prayer I also ask that you pray especially for Pope Francis. In the times I have met him over the last three years he has said every time “Pray for me.” He needs our prayers. He is a remarkable leader. He approaches world problems with courage and humility and leads the Church with great pastoral sensitivity and concern for people. He deserves and needs our prayerful support. Please pray for him.

Finally remember that Lent in itself as “a moment of grace,” make the most of it and accompany your prayer, fasting and works of charity with a sincere desire for a conversion of heart.

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

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.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 7 December 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends
There are only two words for me to use in this last newsletter of 2017.
They are, Thank you! However it will take me more than two words to say
a sincere thanks to so many of you.

Throughout the year we have been working on topics to firmly establish
Stewardship in the Archdiocese. This has involved a number of very well
attended Stewardship Days and wonderful participation by many.  On these
days I have reminded all participants of these words:

Gratitude – we receive the gift of God (and everything is God’s gift)
with gratitude.
Responsibility – we cultivate the gifts of God with responsibility.
Generosity we share these gifts with others and share them generously.
Return— we return the gifts with increase to God.

We have had our Archdiocesan Synod with the theme of “Go, you are
sent”.  The opportunity to participate in the Synod process in the months
preceding the Synod weekend was taken up by hundreds, if not thousands
of people. The prayerful engagement in the Synod process led to a weekend
of listening and dialogue, which in turn led to 96 proposals being presented
to me. This has already given a new sense of purpose – Mission
to the diocese and the desire to go to the peripheries, to accompany and
support those who are struggling in life.

Pope Francis prayer for our Synod was that “the Synod will encourage all
the faithful to face the opportunities and challenges of the present moment
through a renewed encounter with Christ and the saving message of the
Gospel.” I believe his prayer for us continues as we prepare for the Christmas
season “when the kindness and love of God our Saviours for humankind
were revealed …..” (Titus 3 4-7).

This has been a very busy year, a very full year, and it is all because of
“the kindness and love of God” gifted to us in the birth of Jesus.
This Christmas my prayer for all who read this newsletter is that,

• we all receive Jesus, the Gift of God, with gratitude in our lives;
• we look for ways to use with responsibility the gift of Jesus in our
• we share Jesus generously with others, share his love, share his words,
share his presence;
• we realise that all is gift, and in return all gifts to God in love.

I pray too that as we prepare for Christmas we will all live it in such a way
that it is a renewed encounter with Christ and with the saving message of
His Gospel.

With prayers and sincere thanks to you all for your wonderful support
throughout this year.

Every blessing and Happy Christmas

+ John