Tag Archives: Central

Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter – 30 July 2017

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The Seed that bears Fruit

We have been reading over the past couple of weeks the parables of the seed and the sower. In these parables Jesus talks about the ground into which the seed is sown. When the soil is rich the seed bears a great harvest. Sometimes that harvest takes time but like the Word of God it never returns empty handed.

This Sunday our Parish is hosting the community of St John’s Presbyterian Church to thank them for their generosity and hospitality to us during the time the Church was closed for seismic strengthening. On the day St Mary of the Angels closed following the Seddon earthquakes in July 2013 the Rev Allister Lane from St John’s rang me to ask if there was anything they could do to help us. Each Sunday for the next 4 years we celebrated our Choral Mass there at mid-day.  During this time we were also generously hosted by the Cathedral Parish and St Joseph’s in Mount Victoria for other Sunday Masses.

The story of the connection between St Mary of the Angels and St John’s goes back to the time of the first priest in Wellington, Father Jeremiah O’Reily OFM. In 1843 when he       arrived in Wellington Father O’Reily helped the Presbyterian community with services and funerals as they awaited the arrival of their own minister from Scotland. St John’s have never forgotten that generosity.

Since that time St Mary of the Angels have enjoyed a very closed relationship with St John’s. Over the years they have hosted us many times while our Church has been closed for renovating or painting etc. At some stage in the future we will be able to repay that hospitality when St John’s own beautiful wooden Church needs upgrading and strengthened to the current seismic code.

The seed that Jesus talks about in these parables has certainly flourished because of the generosity of Father O’Reily nearly 175 years ago. May it continue to grow as we endeavour to nourish the ecumenical relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters in the inner city.

Father Barry Scannell s.m.

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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.

Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter

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TOGETHER WE ARE ONE

A special moment in the journey from conflict to reunion between Lutherans and Catholics will be witnessed next Sunday afternoon (4 June) in Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Lutheran Bishop, Mark Whitfield, and Cardinal John Dew will lead the two communities in a service commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Year of Reformation.  Themes of thanksgiving, repentance, common witness and commitment will draw on traditions we hold in common.

A highlight will be the introduction of a formal dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics in New Zealand.

It is wonderful to note that the journey towards each other has grown in momentum these past 50 years through what is obviously a Holy Spirit-driven ecumenical season.  We have come to appreciate that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.  With greater understanding, trust has blossomed while old prejudices have faded.

Two weeks ago I spoke at St Paul’s Lutheran Church about the relationship between Luther and Rome.  In my preparation I was surprised to discover Luther’s “Theology of Joy” which he expressed in his pastoral letters and preaching.  It sits easily with Pope Francis’ emphasis on joy, as he encourages everyone to open themselves to the “Joy of the Gospel” and the “Joy of Love”.

Our times are witnessing a definite climate shift from intolerance to an atmosphere of friendly contact and participation in everything we can share together.  The unity for which Jesus Christ prayed is surely within our grasp.

Next Sunday’s service at the cathedral is at 3.00pm.  Please come and support this timely initiative.  Be part of an historic moment in New Zealand inter-church relationships.

Fr James

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Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 26 March 2017

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The Man Born Blind

The Season of Lent really has two motifs running through it. It a time of preparation for
Holy Week, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. But it was (and still is) the time when the catechumens (those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) received their final instructions. They did not stay for the Eucharist. Instead, after the scripture readings, they left the Church and were instructed in their meaning.

So the readings during Lent were chosen with great care. They always included three scriptures from John’s gospel – the Samaritan Woman, the Man Born Blind, and the Raising of Lazarus. At first sight, these scriptures do not sound especially appropriate for Lent, but they had deep meanings and were used repeatedly to point out what was happening in the lives of the catechumens and the people generally. They are always used in Year A (this year), and can be substituted for the Year B and Year C scriptures, especially when there are catechumens present.

So today, the Man Born Blind. The blind man “sees” more and more clearly as his interrogation goes on. After the healing but before the interrogation he had “no idea,” but after a long dispute, he says that Jesus is “a prophet.” After more challenge, he proclaims further that Jesus is “from God.” Finally, after the man’s acknowledgment of ignorance (or blindness) and Jesus’ personal teaching, he confesses, “I do believe, Lord.”

On the opposite side are the sighted, not only physically but also figuratively because they are knowledgeable concerning the teaching of Moses and the Church. At first, they see the miracle, but question the authority. Then they question whether the man was blind at all. They concluded finally that the man is a sinner and excommunicated him (and Jesus along with him). Their blindness is thus complete. This light / darkness theme is so much part of John’s gospel. The catechumens and ourselves, are left with a stark choice. Are we progressing into the light, or are we still in darkness?
Some points for reflection may be:

  • Do I realise my blindness and ask for sight? Does the Lord heal me? Talk to Jesus in prayer about this.
  • Do I, at other times, become so proud of my knowledge and self-sufficiency that I become blinded? How do I do that? How can I change? Talk to Jesus about this.
  • What work or phrase particularly appealed to me. Why?

Fr Ron

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The newsletter insert can be viewed here.

The Wellington Central Pastoral Area Newsletter 26 February 2017

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REMEMBER, YOU ARE DUST….

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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