Category Archives: Central Pastoral Area

The Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 26 February 2017

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Lent opens this week with the opportunity of being anointed with ash. Submitting to the action that spells out our mortality, we acknowledge our nothingness before God, but also our great hope, gifted by faith, that the love by which we were created will bring us victory over death, in all its forms.

Lent sends us into 40 days of deepening self-awareness, of realising how greatly we are individually loved by the God revealed in Jesus, and leading us to the point where thanksgiving can be our only response. To help the process, Caritas provides a great reflection programme, “Your face, Lord, do I seek”, encouraging discussion on topics that will expand understanding on where God is to be found. Thanksgiving shows itself in the support we offer the Caritas appeal to ensure the quality of life everywhere.

For next Friday (3 March), Pope Francis has called for prayer for the victims of abuse and violence. Too many innocent lives have been destroyed, too many trusted people have misused their position, and too many years have allowed abuse and violence to become commonplace. This day of prayer puts a focus on the responsibility of individuals and nations to stand with the weak and vulnerable. It’s an ideal way to begin Lent.

To see the face of God in the face of every person is a first step in overcoming abuse and violence. Identifying with one another as brother and sister, each a member of God’s family, brings a sense of solidarity and dignity. The ash marked as a cross on the forehead, reminds us that while there is still a way to travel on the path to perfection, the cross of Jesus has paved the way and love is carrying us along.

As a community we abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday – a collective offering that says we are all in this together. Be blessed this Lent.

Fr James Lyons

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The Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter – 29 January 2017

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This is our first pastoral area newsletter for 2017 and may be the last that I will present in my current role, as today is my final day as your Lay Pastoral Leader. The reflection often relates to the Sunday readings but today I’d like to share some of my journey with you.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, and the Friday before, we heard Jesus called his disciples and “they followed him.” I’d like to think that they took some time to consider the call and put their affairs in order before heading off but, however long or short the process took, the most important fact for us is that they heeded the call and followed him.

This Gospel always resonates with me as I know that I was answering a call that Sunday at Mass more than 15 years ago. Our then Parish Priest Fr Brian Austin talked about a study program called “Launch Out.” I had been feeling led to do some study for my own personal enjoyment, so the time was ripe to investigate this course. Little did I know where it would lead me! I applied to join Launch Out and was called for an interview and sat in the board room at the Catholic Centre facing Card Tom Williams, + John Dew, Lorraine McArthur (head of pastoral services) and Joan McFetridge, (in charge of Launch Out), a formidable line up! 1 ½ hours later I left exhausted and wondering whether I really was a suitable candidate. I must have presented a reasonably     positive impression as I was accepted and then began my journey to the position I have held for 8 years for the Archdiocese of Wellington. I hadn’t done any in depth study since my nursing training 40 years before and had no idea was ahead of me, probably just as well.

Along side my fulltime nursing I embarked on a Diploma in Pastoral Leadership.  This, together with prayer days, an annual retreat and pastoral project, life became very busy indeed.  It was thought that four years would suffice to complete the course but for many of us, with working as well, it took somewhat longer.

In 2008 I was appointed by +John to the Wellington South Pastoral Area (later becoming Wellington Central) with specific responsibility for St Thomas More Parish. This entailed everything the priest has responsibility for excluding Masses, anointing and Baptisms. The ministry was extremely varied and it has been an absolute privilege and a joy to be involved in people’s lives and the life of the parish.

None of the above could have been achieved without the support of my very patient husband and an incredibly  supportive parish community who I have enjoyed getting to know so much better. I thank you all for your trust and belief in me and all our interactions and relationships. I haven’t space to identify all the  people, priests and laity, who have  impacted my life so please accept my grateful thanks and blessings for your future.

I’d like to finish up with trying to answer a question that people often ask-how do you know when God is calling you or speaking to you? For me it is through other people, through scripture and just the ordinary everyday circumstances of our lives, we just must be open to hearing the call or the prompt, but above all, answering it.

May God bless you all with his infinite mercy and grace,   Mary-Anne

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The Central Pastoral Area Newsletter – 18 December 2016

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Revolutionaries and Freedom Fighters seek liberation from what they regard as oppression, injustice or corruption.  Their leaders are people whose goal is to reverse the situation, overthrow the invaders, create a new society.

At the time of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah was expected to be such a leader – someone whose charisma would rally the people, expel the Roman invaders and restore the Hebrew nation to its  former glory.  The first followers of Jesus thought they had found this Messiah and, as his popularity grew among the ordinary people, anticipated that he was the one who would “restore the kingdom to Israel” [Acts 1:6]

But Jesus made it clear that his kingdom was not of this world.  He had not come to save
us from others.  His mission was to save us from ourselves!

There is a sense in which Christmas brings the best out of people.  There is a general feeling of goodwill; we are inclined to greet strangers and be more relaxed and generous in dealing with      others.  There is something here, in the “spirit of Christmas” that has us reaching out to others, wanting to heal rifts, to make peace.

This is the season that offers a glimpse of the “new society” that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus opens for us and the whole world.  Left to ourselves we are more intent on survival than on sharing, on blaming others rather than checking our own faults, on demanding rights and avoiding responsibilities.

As Saviour, Jesus offers us freedom from an inner captivity that holds us ransom to our selfish instincts, and prevents our ripening and blossoming into a partnership with others, building a new world that enables a free and joyful response to his “new commandment” to love one another as I have loved you.

What greater Saviour could we wish for?  A blessed Christmas everyone!

Fr James Lyons

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Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 30 October 2016

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The Face of Mercy

I share a story which encompasses what Pope Francis was asking of us when he called the ‘Year of Mercy’. Recently I celebrated a Requiem Mass for a 93 year old man whom I met just a couple of weeks before he died.

The gentleman came from Ireland to New Zealand in 1957. He landed in Auckland but eventually came down to Wellington which was where he called home. He worked in the city for some years before being offered a job with the Ministry of Works on the power schemes around Lake     Taupo. He lived in the workers huts, never married and eventually returned to Wellington some 25 years ago in retirement.

It was about this time that a couple picked Michael up from the street where he had fallen and injured himself. Since then Chris and Lorna have cared for Michael and ensured that he was looked after and loved until the day he died. Chris visited Michael twice each day helping him with his lunch and dinner.

Chris and Lorna arranged the funeral and although they are not Catholic knew the importance of Michael’s faith and called me in his last days so that he could receive the sacraments of the Church. Michael also received Holy Communion each week from a Special Minister during last two years in hospital care.

Chris and Lorna also kept contact with his two elderly sisters in Ireland, keeping them updated on Michael’s condition and passing on letters they wrote to him. They had not seen their brother since he left home in 1957 and were too frail to travel for the funeral.

However, Chris and Lorna will send them photographs of the Requiem Mass and Michael’s grave at Makara.

I feel very humble when I reflect on what Chris and Lorna did over the past 25 years for Michael. Their love and care of him encompasses fully what Pope Frances was asking of us during this Year of Mercy. Some months ago we read of the very public story of Jim Grant who died alone in his flat and was not discovered for some weeks. I wonder if Michael’s situation could have been like that if it had not been for the generosity and love of Chris and Lorna. They certainly fulfilled that command of Christ to:

‘love one another as I have loved you”

Father Barry Scannell s.m.

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The Central Pastoral Area Newsletter – 25 September 2016

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On Reflectionrich-man

In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who goes to hell. While the rich man is alive, he is beautifully dressed and eats very well: but at his door there is always a poor man, Lazarus, who is clothed in sores and very hungry. Eventually, both the rich man and the poor man die, but the rich man goes to hell while the poor man, Lazarus, is comforted in the bosom of Abraham.

The poor man is a human person just like the rich man but the rich man cannot see it. We might think that the rich man’s sin is his failure to feed the poor man, but the parable continues for a good while. In hell, the rich man sees that the poor man is comforted in the bosom of Abraham, and he says to Abraham, “send the poor man to bring me a little water.”

Notice that the rich man is talking to Abraham, not to the poor man; and he is asking Abraham to command the poor man. Clearly, the rich man thinks no trouble for the poor man is too much if it brings a little something for the rich man.

When Abraham won’t agree to this request, the rich man issues another command. He asks Abraham to send the poor man to his brothers, to warn them. He spares a thought for the poor man only when he is figuring out how to make use of him. If not for bringing water to hell, then why not for bringing messages to earth?

Now we can see the sin of the rich man. The poor man is a human person just like the rich man and deserving of dignity, but the rich man can’t see it. He doesn’t speak directly to the poor man because he doesn’t see the poor man is a person in his won right. Insofar as he thinks of the poor man at all, it is only to calculate how the poor man could be used to benefit himself.

It wouldn’t matter if the rich man had, in fact, fed Lazarus when they were both living, if he had done so in this frame of mind, would it? The sin is the failure ever to think “ He is a man just like me.”

The parable is not meant to defame those who have worked long and hard for their financial position in life or to dump on the rich. It is meant to help us all to recognize the responsibilities our position in life demand.

God bless


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