Tag Archives: Archdiocese

HOMILY – ORDINATION ANNIVERSARY, 2 JULY 2017 – 13th Sunday [A]

HOMILY – ORDINATION ANNIVERSARY, 2 JULY 2017 – 13th Sunday [A]

As the seminary opened its gates to release a batch of students ready for ordination mid-1967, the Beatles were well on the way to converting the world to their unique brand of music.  I began my ministry to the beat of their hit single, All You Need Is Love.  It seemed a great anthem for a new priest in the immediate post-Vatican II environment.

In the exciting glow of that amazing Council, signalling long-awaited reforms within our Church, I was convinced that all I needed was love and everything else would take care of itself.  The Second Vatican Council opened doors and windows to the world, asking Catholics to engage confidently with other Christians and with issues that concerned people generally.  There were to be changes in the way we celebrated Mass; the priest would face the people for the entire liturgy, and English was to replace Latin so that everyone could understand and participate.

I found these changes exhilarating and did not appreciate till much later the anxiety and troubled conscience they meant for many of the older priests and parishioners.  Another song came to haunt my priesthood.  One of the early rock-operas explored the personality of Jesus:  Jesus Christ Superstar!  The song of Mary Magdalen, I Don’t Know How To Love Him, pushed me back to reality.  It was easy to love Jesus in the security and protection of the seminary, but in the cut and thrust of parish life, beyond the hype of change and novelty, meeting the pain that people carry in broken relationships, terminal illness, anxiety and grief, did I really know how to love him?

A personal wakeup came in a Retreat in the early 80s, and it centred on today’s second reading [Rom 6:3-4].  When I was baptised in Christ Jesus, I was baptised in his death!  How could I not encounter suffering, or have doubts, or become disillusioned?  Jesus endured all this, and more.  Unless I entered his death how could I expect to enter his resurrection?  Soon after the Retreat a third song made its mark on me: one of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s: Love Changes Everything.  There have been other songs since, but this is the one that helped cement my priesthood in the lives of the people I served.

When God told Adam, It is not good for man to be alone, he wasn’t just referring to the partnership of marriage.  God was pointing out the inescapable fact that no one can exist alone.  We are made for community; we need others in our life.  A priest cannot be a priest just for himself; his priesthood only grows and matures and makes sense in relationship with those to whom he is sent.  It is the love he meets in this relationship that changes everything.

It took me a long while to understand that this love does not exclude affection for family and friends but enriches them.  The cross of Jesus is only a burden to those who limit their love to themselves.  By “losing” or “sinking” your life into the life of Jesus, you discover yourself constantly renewed and refreshed.  As the prophet Elisha [1st Reading] gifted the couple who befriended him with new life, all your giving, and all my giving, far from depleting our resources, will open new avenues, new wonders.

The Beatles told me All You Need Is Love!  But it took a while for me to see that truth.  I first had to learn what love really meant.  I stumbled a few times trying to follow the footsteps of Jesus, and I reacted with I Don’t Know How To Love Him.  My family, and my friends in and outside the parishes I’ve served, have shown me Love Changes Everything – not in the sense of altering, but transforming – enabling me to recognise my faults, value my gifts, and honour my priesthood.  In the end, love IS all you need.  For whatever part you’ve played in my 50 years, I bless and thank you.  You are my life, my treasure.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 15 June 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,

I have invited you to participate in the Synod consultation process which you are able to do either as individuals or in various groups. I am most grateful to those of you from around the diocese who have already sent in responses. At the heart of the process I have invited you to engage in is a deep and profound respect for one another. This respect come from the conviction that each of us can learn from another, that each of us may be an instrument of God’s Spirit.

In asking you to do this I want to tell you that I need to hear your words, spoken courageously and with humility from your hearts. I need to hear the words that have been given shape in prayer and reflection. I need to hear the words which have been prompted by the Holy Spirit and then spoken, knowing that they have come from the inspiration of God’s Spirit. This is happening in the submissions which have been coming in, and it is a joy to see people speaking up so honesty and constructively.

This current phase of the Synod process is vital for us if the Synod is to bear fruit. Therefore I really encourage everyone to participate prayerfully in this discernment time, with listening ears and with listening hearts. In these weeks our spoken words, and our listening must come from quiet prayer and a genuine openness to the experiences and vision of those who share their thoughts with us. Words that have been spoken over and over again may suddenly be heard as if for the first time, they may ring with a truth we have previously missed. If we listen with our hearts, as well as with our heads, I am sure that we will come to see our mission in a whole new way. We will then step out on a new direction which God challenges us to follow as we are sent out into the world taking Jesus and His Gospel with us.

With sincere thanks for all that you ae doing and with every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 18 May 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,

Last weekend the annual O’Shea Shield Competition was held at St Bernard’s College, Lower Hutt. Seven-teen Catholic Colleges from the Wellington and Palmerston North dioceses participated in this wonderful event of Debating, Oratory, Scripture Reading in both Te Reo and English, Impromptu Speech, Religious Drama, and Religious Questions. Congratulations to St Bernard’s, who won the 2017 O’Shea Shield Compe-tition, and congratulations to them also for their very generous hospitality to us all, as hosts of this year’s event.

The theme of the weekend was “Living in Harmony with God’s Creation”, inspired by the Encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si” (On the Care of our Common Home).
The Religious Questions topic was based on “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis from the two Synods on the Family. Having sat through those two very long Synods in Rome, where thousands and thousands of words were spoken, I have often wondered how many would read the re-sulting document. It was therefore a real honour to sit and listen to students of our Colleges respond so con-vincingly and with such understanding to questions about Amoris Laetitia. They had reflected deeply on the writings of Pope Francis, were very aware that this spoke about married love, and time and time again spoke of how moved they were by his writings!

As they responded to the Holy Father’s reflection on St Paul’s Hymn to Love in First Corinthians they spoke about how they were trying to apply this to their lives today. This was so gratifying and edifying to all present. Well done and congratulations.

Amoris Laetitia is worth reading, so rich in teaching, with much to reflect on for all of us. It is about love, and all of us are called to love.

With every blessing

+John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 4 May 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,

This newsletter comes to you from Christchurch where I am attending the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference for the week.

This coming Sunday is an important one for the Archdiocese because it is one of the major steps in preparing for our Synod in September. It is also important for the Church throughout the world as it is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, with the theme “Led by the Spirit for Mission.” Our Synod theme fits in perfectly with that chosen by Pope Francis for this Good Shepherd Sun-day, the day on which we pray for vocations.

I have asked that a Pastoral Letter be read out at all Masses in the Archdiocese this Sunday. This pastoral letter informs people of what the Synod is all about and encourages people to participate. Everyone can participate, through prayer and by being actively engages in the Synod process, whether or not they are actually attending the Synod.

In his message the Holy Father wrote: “In the last few years, we have considered two aspects of the Christian vocation: the sum-mons to “go out from ourselves” to hear the Lord’s voice, and the importance of the ecclesial community as the privileged place where God’s call is born, nourished and expressed.”

Please think very seriously about these words, We are all asked by our Baptism “to go out from ourselves,” to be “sent out,” and we hear God’s word in our communities of faith, our families, schools, colleges and parishes. The Pope’s message focuses on “the missionary dimension of our Christian calling.” It is that very focus that we want the synod to reflect on and prepare us for our missionary work “to follow Jesus and discover within ourselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to our brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity.”

This coming Sunday, please highlight prayer for vocations, and please link the Pastoral Letter about the Synod to the Holy Father’s theme. This is a great opportunity for us all to reflect on what we are called to, and on the fact that we are all “sent,” but in various ways. This is the one Sunday of the year when we think particularly and pray about the call to priesthood and religious life and the absolute necessity for those vocations to grow if the Church is to flourish and bear fruit. We are all “Led by the Spirit for Mission,” we are all “sent out” to the world around us.

Please know that in all we do to respond to our missionary call, whatever that may be, we are at all times accompanied by Jesus the Good Shepherd. He is always with us and His mercy and goodness follow us all the days of our lives.

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Synod ’17 – Update 1

The full update including Synod Calendar, can be viewed here.

Dear Friends

Work is going on in earnest in preparation for the Synod in
September. The Synod Committee has been making good progress in dealing with the many decisions and actions needed. With the new year well underway and parishes making plans for the year, we are sending you the first Synod Update so that you can factor the Synod timeline into your plans.
I said in the Decree of Convocation for the Synod:
“In convoking a Synod I am mindful of Pope Francis’ desire that we advance along the path of “a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are”. He explains what he means by “pastoral and missionary conversion” when he writes: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent action which says ‘We have always done it this way’”. It means being bold and creative in rethinking the goals,
structures, style and methods of evangelization and service to the world in our Archdiocese with its diverse communities. In particu-lar, it means taking on board his message to “go out” to the wider world.”
The topics for the Synod are primarily drawn from the directions Pope Francis has been putting before us. The topics are:
the peripheries of society; our own peripheries; refugees and mi-grants; care for creation; ecumenism; accompanying the young; marriage and family. In addition there are two topics which reflect particular needs in the Archdiocese: leadership; bicultural and eth-nic diversity. These topics will be the subject of the diocese-wide consultation process which begins on 7 May.
Prayer and discernment will be critical factors in the Synod
process, and I have asked Fr Alan Roberts to look at how we can provide formation in discernment prior to the Synod. He will be talking about this at the Ministry Formation Day on 28 February.
As we journey together towards the Synod, we pray for one anoth-er and for the Archdiocese.
With prayerful best wishes
+John