Tag Archives: CardinalJohn

Homily by Cardinal John Dew for Central Pastoral Area Confirmation Mass

Confirmation Homiily 2017

Earlier this year I saw a wonderful YouTube clip of a few people telling the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, how much they appreciated her during her eight years as First Lady. It was a wonderful little video, they spoke to a portrait of her, and actually had no idea that she was standing behind it listening to them, then. She walked out and totally surprised them. One of the men, a man married with two young children told her that he loved to let his children listen to her speeches. He said there is always a theme and he said, “It is kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness.”

Just a few weeks ago a new President of France was elected, in some of his campaigning to be elected he several times spoke about calling the French people to be people of kindness, each time he did that he made his arms into the shape of a cross.

A famous Roman poet of hundreds of year ago, Seneca, once wrote; “Where-ever there is a human being there is a opportunity for kindness”

Today (number) are being confirmed, are being gifted by God with the gift of the Holy Spirit….we know that when the Spirit of God, the same Spirit that was in the heart of Jesus, when that Spirit lives in our hearts as he will do from today onwards for all these young people….we will be different people. “What the Spirit brings is very different; love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, trustfulness and self-control.” We are all able to be all those things, because God’s Spirit is given to us at Baptism, and renewed and strengthened in Confirmation, and every time we pray.

I would be prepared to take a bet that like that father of two young children who thanked Michele Obama for her speeches with the thread of kindness running through them. That parents here today too would want the same for your children, for these children being Confirmed today.

Maybe a simple way to help one another to be kind, and certainly for parents to help their children to be kind would be at the end of every day to ask some simple questions. Questions such as “Who did you help today? Who were you kind to today?”   Or “Whom did you fail to help today, who were you unkind too?”

There was a Professor of Special Education in the United States who dealt especially with children with learning difficulties, his name was Leo Buscaglia. His writings all came down to something very simple and practical. He once wrote: “Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Most of us want to be able to offer a kind word, a listening ear, a small act of caring. Most of us want to be able to live by being people of kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness……..but we can’t do it on our own. We need God’s help, the strength of God’s grace

When the new President of France spoke of the French people being “people of kindness” he used to stretch out his arms in the shape of a cross. It was only after Jesus stretched out his arms on the Cross that he was able to give us His Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is not always easy for us to be kind, we need to make and effort, to stretch out our arms and forget about ourselves…..put others first and show kindness.

Love and kindness are never wasted; love and kindness always make a difference. Love and kindness actually bless the Person who receives them from us, a family member, a friend, a classmate….but the very action of showing love and kindness to others bless us too.

Saint Paul gave us a list of words that we call the Fruits of the Holy Spirit…I have already mentioned them…..love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, trustfulness and self-control……he tells us that they are the things the Holy Spirit brings into our lives. If the Holy Spirit brought only one of theism into our lives we would be people of great richness and blessings

Maybe a good thing to remind ourselves of and to ask the Holy Spirit to give us every day is that fruit of kindness

As was said of the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama……”your speeches are always kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness.”

And as the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron said “Let us be people of kindness.”

I have told you about Michelle Obama, Emmanuel Macron, a Roman poet- Seneca, I want to finish with a prayer Pope Francis said we all should be praying each day.

“Holy Spirit, may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, and may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day.”

If we pray that prayer every day the Holy Spirit will help us to be people of kindness.

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.

“Let us offer each other a sign of peace:” – Homily Cardinal John Dew – 11 June 2017 (Commissioning of Fiona Rammell)

“Let us offer each other a sign of peace:”

We hear those words that at every Mass. The sign of peace is meant to show that we are at peace with one another, that we are one, that we are praying for peace and unity for the whole human family and that we are expressing our unity with one another before we receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Sign of Peace. Sometimes referred to as the Kiss of Peace. There is nothing very intimate about our kiss of peace at Mass. It’s a sign, intended to be a gesture of peace and goodwill, acceptance of others, of love of others. It is not an intimate sign even though strangely our world craves intimacy.

Unfortunately the word intimate has lost its meaning. Intimacy in its deepest meaning is much more about our spirits than about any physical intimacy or physical relationship. The word “intimate” is actually about closeness of heart and mind, the word means “to make the innermost known.

In saying that the world craves intimacy I am saying that we look for love, a love that’s completely trustworthy, that we know is safe, that we know is true, a love that won’t be betrayed or taken for granted.

When we make our innermost hearts open to others; when we put our fears, our struggles our pains out there, it can be very frightening, we are left vulnerable because we can be taken advantage of and our love betrayed or deceived.

Sadly most human heartbreak stems from a desire for love and closeness, the heartbreak comes when love and trust is been mishandled, and where making the innermost known doesn’t happen any longer.

Real prayer is intimate. Meeting God in our own personal prayer, the way we celebrate the sacraments brings us close to God, God whom we acknowledge today as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God offers us an intimacy that can only give of itself because the nature of God is to give and to love and to seek nothing in return. God says: “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost.”

The Holy Trinity, the Blessed Trinity is perfect intimacy because the three persons of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in perfect love.

Very soon you will hear me say, when I commission Fiona as a Lay Pastoral Leader, that she is called to follow Jesus the beloved one, to reflect God’s very kindness in ministry to you, the people of God. Anyone who ministers in the name of the Church is asked to show God’s love to those they are called to serve. Whether a priest, lay pastoral leader, or any other form of ministry in the church….ministry is always about reflecting the kindness of God to others.

Over the last 12 years I have commissioned several lay pastoral leaders. At every commissioning I have done in the last 12 years I have emphasised the fact that our lay pastoral leaders work together with our priests. Therefore today I want you to know that Fiona is being commissioned to work with Fr James and not for Fr James. Fiona at the same time will not supersede your leadership, in fact she will help you to find ways to serve and to enhance your leadership because she knows that in being called to serve you she is to call forth your gifts. In doing that she will reflect the kindness of God.

We had a very short reading from St Paul to the Corinthians- “Be united live in peace in the God of love and peace will be with you.” When we look to serve one another in kindness, the God of love and peace will be with us. That reading also said, in a kind of a prayer or a blessing, “may the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

That is what Fiona and Fr James will be doing together. Whatever they work on, in whatever they serve this community of the Cathedral Parish they will be showing ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship or the communion of the Holy Spirit to each of you.”

If each one of us acknowledge the goodness and kindness of God, if we admit that our only true and deep intimacy comes from being at one with God, we will have no trouble being united, living in peace knowing that the God of love and peace is with us, and by our very lives we will show “the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to each and every one of us.”

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 1 June 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Dear Friends,
This coming Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we will hear a reading from the Acts of the Apostles. It’s the story of Pentecost. Part of the reading says:
“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astound-ed, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travellers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
Those cities which are listed are much more than an amusing way to make the Sunday reader become tongue-tied or confused. The names listed, from Parthians through to Arabs, represented international visitors from around the Mediterranean world and beyond, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. We know that many of these international visi-tors went on to accept the Gospel. They provide us with an example, even today, of how nations and believers from all over the world heard the Gospel, believed it, accepted it and lived together as fellow Christians.
Our parish and school communities today are made up of people from many different countries. We speak dozens of dif-ferent languages and express ourselves very uniquely – even in prayer – but we have all been baptised and we have all re-ceived the same Spirit. Our parishes and schools are deeply blessed and enriched by the presence of people from all over the world.
At Pentecost “they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” We may also be con-fused at times if all we see and hear is a person from another country. We have all been gifted with the same Spirit. It does not matter where we come from. The Spirit is God’s Spirit and that is what unites us in speaking a language we all understand, the language of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
As we prepare for Pentecost Sunday we pray that the Spirit of God lives forever in our hearts, that the Spirit of God both comforts and disturbs us, and that above all the Spirit moves us always – no matter what part of the world we come from – to speak the language of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness gentleness and self- control, the language of the Holy Spirit.

With every blessing


Presentation by Cardinal John Dew at Wellington Archdiocesan Synod Workshop 27 May 2017

Fifty years ago the Second Vatican council took place.  From that time Synods have been very much part of the life of the Church, the Synods of Bishops are held in Rome usually every three years, but sometimes Special Synods such as the Regional Synod for Oceania in 1998.

In the Archdiocese of Wellington 188   1988, 1998, 2006 and now 2017

Pope Francis last year described these Synod gatherings as “journeying together”.

He also said: “From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I sought to enhance the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council.”

“We must continue along this path. The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.”

I want our “SYNOD” to be an experience of journeying together —all of us journeying together –  laymen and women, clergy and religious – young and old, people of different ethnicities – me as the local bishop, the person entrusted with the care of this diocese.

The Pope says that this is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice. It is true that it’s not easy to put into practice because naturally people have their own agendas, their ideas about what the Church should be doing. Clearly I could never do all this by myself…I need the priests, but I also need you all, because we are all the People of God, we are all “journeying together.”

In 2013 in Evangelii Gaudium,  Francis emphasized that “all the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients”.

We are all responsible to discern new ways to travel together ways that are not just our own ideas or hobby- horses, but ways the Lord is revealing to the Church. That is why this discernment process for this Synod is essential.

A Synodal Church is a Church that listens, which knows that listening “is more than simply hearing”. (12) It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the bishop, all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17), in order to know what he “says to the Churches” (Rev 2:7).

In 2014, at the first session of the Synod on the Family Pope Francis stated: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”. (14)

We listen to the Holy Spirit; we listen to one another, and discern where we might go in the future as the local Church of Wellington.

Our Synod process must be based on and surrounded by prayer.  I have invited all people to pray and we have provided a prayer to be prayed at all Sunday Masses  …it is now time to pray that prayer in all parishes, schools, communities and family homes from now until September.

An important concept to grasp and understand is that the Church is about “journeying together” towards our eventual meeting with Christ. This also means that we also understand that we are all here to serve one another. “For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the cross.”

Pope Francis has spoken of Diocesan Synods and referred to them as “the noble institution”, in which priests and laity are called to cooperate with the bishop for the good of the whole ecclesial community. That is what we are about …. the good of the whole community of the Church in Wellington, which in these days is complex. A Synod is not just about people getting what they want, not about a particular community and its own wishes and desires, it is about the good of all. In a synodal Church it is the fact that we are in communion with one another which inspires all decisions about the local Church.

“Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion,…………( Novo Millenio Ineunte of Pope John Paul)

 A spirituality of communion indicates the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters…….

It  means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters as “those who are a part of me”. …. sharing their joys and sufferings, sensing their desires and attending to their needs, offering them deep and genuine friendship.

A spirituality of communion implies the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for “others” but also a “gift for me”.

It means to know how to “make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens” ………

Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, “masks” of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.”  (NMI 43)

The Church’s Law speaks of “organs of communion” in the local Church: the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors, and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Pope Francis says that it is only when these organizations keep connected to the  “base” (that’s basically me as the bishop) and when we start from people and their daily problems, can a Synodal Church begin to take shape:

We live in a world, which calls for participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration — but often decisions are made by  a few …by a small but powerful group. As a Church which “journeys together” we are trying to cherish the dream and rediscover of the dignity of every person, and the concept of authority as service.

One of the most amazing speeches I have ever heard was made by the Pope at the end of the First Session of the Synod on the Family in October 2014.  I can’t share it all with you…but a few highlights…..

I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”  And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour.

There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people.

Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life.

A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

– One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, …….closing oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); being certain and not acknowledging that we still need to learn and to achieve. It’s the temptation of the zealous, the scrupulous, the solicitous the so-called – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

– The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; It’s the temptation of the “do-gooders,”  the fearful, and the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

– The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please people, and not stay there, in order to fulfill the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

– The temptation to neglect the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it];

The duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; (it is the same with the bishop of a diocese). It is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

We have been gifted with four major documents in the last three years courtesy of Pope Francis; they give us some clear directions about the way the Church should be going…and needs to be going. Those documents are:

  1. Evangelii Gaudium
  2. Misericodiae Vultus
  3. Lauadato Si
  4. Amoris Laetitia

I think all of these documents in various ways point to the fact that we are to be an “outward looking” Church. I would like this Synod to focus on this approach, that it is not to be inward looking or introspective.

I believe that many of our people think that being Catholic means going to Mass and saying your private prayers, whereas it is about what we do for others; the homeless, disadvantaged, marginalized, the drug addicts, the sick who do not have adequate healthcare, the poor and lonely, the migrant and refugee, the outcast, those who don’t “fit in,” the list is endless, but this is where we are to be today.

One of my favourite and very challenging quotes is from Pope Benedict who wrote; “Unless this Eucharist passes over into concrete acts of love it is intrinsically fragmented.” (Deus Caritas Est 14)