Category Archives: Cathedral News

Cathedral & Pastoral Area Bulletins & Other Related News.

The Cathedral Connection 14 October 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


“Deep down in the heart of every person is the knowledge that life is precious and often fragile.”  These words from our Bishops help focus on the significance of today’s annual celebration of the gift of life.  Respect Life Sunday asks us to pause and consider the wonder of our being and the varied and intricate ways in which we are patterned and linked to one another.

Life is precious.  We have only one each, and it is unique, never to be repeated.  Your life and mine, and everyone else’s is to be honoured and held as a sacred trust.

Life is often fragile. It must be handled with care.  Your life and mine and everyone else’s can be damaged, broken or even destroyed by something as simple as an angry or spiteful word; it can be fractured with a glance or even by being ignored.

This precious and often fragile life – yours and mine and everyone else’s is also endowed with its own strength and can withstand enormous pressures such as come with disappointment or sickness or the loss of a friend.

With you, people of faith, I see life as a gift from the God who is love; the God revealed in Jesus. This puts life in a class of its own, with a dignity beyond compare.  And because life comes from love, it is itself creative and reaches for companionship.  Each life is born to grow and to unite with other lives.  Jesus came to help this vital process, urging us to think of others before ourselves, to value the healing that comes with forgiveness – in other words, to respect life above all else.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 7 October 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


Last month I spoke with a group of our Catholic Primary School principals.  They had asked me to help reinforce their role as guides and guardians of the Catholic Character of our schools.  It occurs to me that much of what I shared with them applies to everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Under six headings we explored the identity of someone promoting the Catholic Character.  Here they are.  Check them against your own understanding of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.

  • A witness to Gospel values – you can only be credible if you are joyful. Joyfulness springs from thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving opens you to compassion.
  • A servant leader – does not sit easily with the secular model of leadership. Leadership that is respected comes from the gift of self.
  • A midwife – bringing Jesus to birth in all your relationships. You are called to nurture life: act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6:8]
  • A team person – open to dialogue and working together with others. Positive collaboration recognises the gifts in each person.
  • A pilgrim – a person of hope, living with the conviction that our lives are going somewhere. Hope is wildly ambitious.
  • A parish person – while principals are encouraged to work closely with the local parish, parishioners should not separate their personal lives from their parish connection. “Owning” your parish gives life to both parish and school.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 30 September 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


Clericalism is the new “bad word” in the Church.  Why?  As more and more accounts emerge of the abuse of trust by clergy and consecrated persons, reaching back over the past century, questions are being asked about the privileged status they have traditionally enjoyed.  People have always regarded priests and religious as “special” and the Sacrament of Holy Orders has certainly marked the priesthood as distinct and separate from others.

While this is a beautiful tribute to the dignity of priesthood, it can easily lead to an “Upper Class” impression with a consequent lack of accountability.  It is obvious that some, even many, have succumbed to the temptation that privilege, power and authority invite.  Trust becomes a sad and tragic casualty.

Pope Francis has targeted clericalism as “an illness in the Church”, and says it arises from a distorted view of authority.  “To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” he wrote in his letter to all Catholics on August 20.

He states that clericalism can be a sin for both clergy and laity: for clergy if they demand to be treated as superior to the laity; for laity, if they resign themselves to ‘Let Father do everything’ and avoid the responsibilities proper to their own vocation as baptised Christians.

Bishop Vincent Long, speaking to our Priests’ Assembly in Christchurch recently, told us the priesthood has to be “humanised, not pedestalised!”  In today’s environment, the priest cannot be “apart from” the people; he must be “a part of” the people.  This the model we are trying to work from in New Zealand.  Pray that this kind of partnership will bring healing and peace.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 23 September 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


When the All Blacks lost last Saturday night, reaction came quickly. Some criticised the players and coaches. Others took a more philosophical view. It was a great game; we lost to a great team. Perhaps the loss will be good in the long run. It’s what happens after a loss that matters. That describes some of my feelings following a gathering of 185 diocesan priests in Christchurch last week. It was a great sharing in the joy of the sacrament of priesthood. We totalled 4842 years of priestly service! I was able to renew friendship with priests I have long admired, many now growing old gracefully. Then there were the young shoots, many from the Philippines and India, full of energy and a great blessing for our Church. The keynote speakers echoed our own experience that the Church is facing severe difficulties. These are not so much from outside forces but more directly from within. We have suffered a big loss. Now we must take stock and plan ahead. Perhaps this period of time will be good for us. Pope Francis is indeed a Pope for our times. He sees the difficulties and he is challenging us to live the gospel in a new way.

The danger of clericalism. Here priests are treated in a deferential way; they make arbitrary decisions and ‘run the show’. They control what happens. ‘Servant Leadership’ goes out the window. Priests live in a world apart, not smelling like the sheep.’

We must reach out to the peripheries, and not look in on ourselves. Francis sets an example as he meets the refugees at Lampadozza; he washes the feet of women and men of all religions (and none) in prison. Is this not also what Jesus teaches, to reach out to those neglected and ignored, even hated by others.

To remember Paul’s image of the Body (1 Cor 12/ 18-22.) Through baptism, each of us becomes part of the Body of Christ. Each a different and limited part, but once we are joined to, and work with the whole body, we become Christ in action, and can change the world.
We carry on, like the disciples in today’s gospel, having learnt a hard lesson, but determined to be better for it.

Fr Ron Bennett

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

The Cathedral Connection 9 September 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


The annual Social Justice Week opens today.  Its theme, “Enabling Communities”, reminds us that everyone has a part to play in making our communities safe, inclusive, fair, welcoming and compassionate. This “Week” was established in 1997 by our New Zealand Bishops to encourage reflection and action on particular current issues in the light of Catholic social teaching.

Promoting this year’s theme, the bishops state, “Each of us, with our unique gifts and challenges, is interdependent.  By becoming involved in each other’s lives by our presence and service, we grow together as the body of Christ. … To be genuinely included is not just to belong, but to be missed when we are not around.  A responsibility rests on us all to encourage and nurture a sense of belonging and acceptance.”

This has special relevance for us since the closure of the cathedral, our worship centre.  In our adequate but less than ideal temporary “shelters”, we need to be alert to assist the elderly and disabled, to enable visitors to appreciate the different surroundings, to be extra welcoming of one another and to make sure no one feels lost or disoriented.  If we each play our part our community will remain strong and focussed.  We will certainly not lose heart.

This local application of the 2018 social justice theme will surely open our eyes to the wider community where safety, inclusiveness, fairness, welcome and compassion are even more desperately needed.

Fr James Lyons

The full newsletter can be viewed here.