Letter to Parishioners of the Catholic Parish of Wellington South

3 November 2019

In February Cardinal John wrote to parishioners, Parish Councils and Leadership teams directing us to radically re-think how we are to be “People of God.” In particular, our call to be missionary disciples – and that “if we are to develop our support for the poor and marginalised, we may have to make sacrifices.”

He also requires us to face and plan for the uncomfortable reality of our shrinking congregations, reducing number of priests and financial situation, including the burden of ongoing maintenance of our many churches and presbyteries.

Importantly, he exhorts us to look to the future and not cling to the past, telling us that “we’ve always done it this way” is both invalid and damaging.

Across the Catholic Parish of Wellington South we have a talented, diverse community who live out their faith and exhibit missionary discipleship in many ways – both within the parish and within their lives in the wider community.

From the Discernment sessions in May we heard from the parish about the importance of:

  • Existing faith communities and concern about the loss of community.
  • The need to use buildings wisely to promote mission and vision of church.
  • That the Church is sacramental and somewhat inward looking.
  • Knowing the roles of laity and priests.
  • The importance of the church /school connection.

At the Stewardship Day in August, we heard from the parish the desire for:

  • Retaining two churches.
  • Developing multi-use spaces that we can share with the wider community.
  • Ensuring future financial stability.
  • Working hard to ensure we build one parish community.
  • Ensuring that ethnic and Samoan communities’ needs are met.
  • Supporting and growing family groups, prayer groups, youth activity and CCD for
  • Considering the links between schools and churches.
  • Honouring and respecting the legacies of the past.

As part of the consultation process we have spoken to neighbouring parishes and met with local Catholic school principals.  37 individual submissions from parishioners were also considered.

As a parish, we also have to face the uncomfortable reality of:

  • Our financial situation: parish finances have been running at a deficit for several years. The parish faces substantial costs maintaining our four churches and                       presbytery in  operating expenses, overdue maintenance and earthquake issues.
  • Falling congregations: our Mass count has fallen by over 20% over the last 20 years, over 10% in the last 10 years and will likely continue to shrink.
  • Reducing numbers of priests: we must realistically assume we will be a one-priest parish  within 3-5 years or sooner.

For us not to face this reality and plan for it would be irresponsible.

So, within this context, we believe that the parish needs to:

  • Accept that we will need to become a one-church parish within ten years.
  • Plan for that eventuality and renovate and expand our facilities in a way that will support our mission, our youth, ethnic communities, refugee communities, faith       formation in schools and colleges and prayer and family groups.

To achieve this outcome in the next decade, the parish should over the next five years:

  1. Work with St Francis de Sales School and community to renovate St Francis de Sales church into a new shared facility that is both a sacred space, a weekday-only Mass centre and a multi-use space that support’s Christ’s message and mission in the school and community. In time this could include transferring ownership of the church to the school.
  2. Work with the St Joseph’s community to support and sustain the strengths of their unique intentional community and plan its transition from the St Joseph’s location to the St Anne’s campus, closing and selling the St Joseph’s church and land.
  3. Work with the St Bernard’s community and school to create a sacred space and weekday-only Mass centre within the St Bernard’s School hall, closing and selling the church and presbytery within 1-2 years.
  4. Work with all communities to grow the St Anne’s campus into a community and facility suitable for and truly shared by all our parishioners. This will require the St Anne’s community not just to welcome and accept other parishioners. It requires them to also welcome and accept changes to liturgies, Mass times, music and leadership that reflect and retain the strengths and preferences of the parishioners currently connected with St Joseph’s, St Bernard’s and St Francis de Sales.

Additionally, the St Francis de Sales presbytery needs significant and expensive overdue maintenance and is no longer ideal as accommodation for priests. Over the next few years we will create a new presbytery on or near the St Anne’s campus.  We will also explore future options for the St Francis de Sales presbytery – such as creation of a youth mission house or the sale of the property – in consultation with the parish.

We know this recommendation to Cardinal John will be saddening to many of us, and evoke anger, disappointment and other emotions. Wanting to postpone and minimise change is natural and human.

But the uncomfortable reality of our ongoing falling Mass numbers, reducing number of priests and financial situation is undeniable.

So, if we are truly to be missionary disciples and want to grow and sustain the strengths of our community as it changes, we need to embrace this change and support each other through it – not fight change and each other.

When we hear back from Cardinal John, the next step will be to look at creating working groups of interested parishioners from all church communities to begin making the changes outlined in our proposal.

Thank you for engaging with the consultation and expressing your views.  Now, more than ever, we need to work together to ensure a positive and sustainable future for our parish.

Nga mihi nui

Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Leadership Team

Full Proposal sent to Cardinal Dew     

FAQs

Parish Consultation – update and next steps

Retaining two churches was the most strongly preferred option of those who participated in the Parish Consultation day on 3 August.
There was also strong support for:
–  developing multi use spaces that we can share with the wider community
–  ensuring future financial stability
–  working hard to ensure we develop one parish community
–  ensuring our ethnic and Samoan communities’ needs are met
–  supporting and growing family groups, prayer groups, youth activity and CCD
–  considering links between schools and churches
–  honouring and respecting the legacies of the past

The Parish Council has now begun the difficult task of weighing the options of which two churches would best suit the current and future needs of the parish, given the priorities voiced.

Sustaining the different strengths and cultures of our current Mass communities will be an important focus going forward. The Consultation Day highlighted the value and importance placed upon this across the whole parish and we will work to ensure this is strengthened and sustained whatever changes eventuate regarding the church buildings.

A summary of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of the churches is in your parish foyer .

We want to ensure that the views and wisdom of all parishioners inform this decision. We will also be consulting with the principals of each primary school and the chairs of their Boards of Trustees.
So we invite parishioners to contribute any additional facts or information that they feel should be considered.
Please contribute in writing by Monday 30 Sept by email to office@wellingtonsouthcatholic.org
or by post to the
Parish Office, PO Box 7173 Newtown, Wellington 6242.

EUTHANASIA PUBLIC MEETING

Prof Theo Boer

From 2005 to 2014 Prof Dr Theo A. Boer was an ethicist on a regional Euthanasia Review Committee in the Netherlands, examining 4,000 euthanasia cases. Each of the five regional committees consists of a medical doctor, an ethicist and a lawyer, who is also the chair. The purpose of these committees is to review whether a case of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide have taken place in accordance with the “due care criteria” stipulated by the Dutch euthanasia law which came into effect in 2002.

In 2007 Dr Boer stated publicly that the Dutch euthanasia law was working well. He wrote, ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.’

However, in 2014, he wrote an article for the Daily Mail stating, “But we were wrong – terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilization in the numbers was just a temporary pause.”
“I used to be a supporter of [euthanasia] legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view,” he wrote.

His visit is timely, since Parliament will debate Part 3 of the proposed End of Life Choice Bill on Wednesday 11 September. This Part includes a section on the proposed Review Committee.

First Communion 2019

We congratulate the 50 young people across our parish who made their First Communion at Masses on Sunday.  Being baptised, confirmed and receiving the Eucharist completes their initiation into the Christian Catholic community.

Many thanks to all those who have helped in any way with the  Sacramental programme this year. Firstly to parents and care givers who have committed to the task of preparing their young ones. To Tracy Gundesen and Rob McCullough who have been their catechists. And to all parishioners who have contributed by way of hospitality, liturgy, music and their prayerful support throughout the programme.

Parish Consultation Gathering

More than 120 parishioners gathered to take part in the consultation process regarding the future of Parish buildings.  We were also asked to share ideas about how we maintain our community as we move forward.
The Parish Council’s aim for the session was to collectively develop a range of options for our future as a parish. The Cardinal has asked for proposals that are both realistic and practical regarding churches and presbyteries currently maintained by the Parish.
The wealth of information and diverse suggestions shared, were recorded and the PPC now has the task of collating and considering people’s views.  They will then decide on a next step, before formulating a proposal for the Cardinal and the rationale behind their recommendation.

Parish Consultation – Next Steps

As we move into the phase of beginning to formulate possible solutions in response to Cardinal John’s letter, everyone is invited to a Parish Consultation Session on Saturday 3rd August at St Anne’s Hall, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
Our goal in this session is to collectively develop a range of options for our future as a parish – not only with regards to buildings, but also how we can sustain our parish community as we adapt to future changes.

The themes that stood out in our first round of consultation were:
–  Our communities are important to us and loss of these communities through church building closure is a real concern.
–  Ours is a sacramental church and somewhat inward looking.
–  Further clarifying the roles of the laity and priests is an important issue.
–  The connection between our schools and churches is an important one.
–  We need a vision for the place of our buildings in the promotion of our mission and use for social justice.

This will be an important step in our consultation. All are welcome
and encouraged to attend. Kindly let the Parish Office know if
you are able to attend.

Stephen Neal
Parish Council Chair

Parish Consultation Update

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first round of consultation sessions. The purpose of this consultation round was to capture parishioners’ reaction to Cardinal John Dew’s request to reduce the number of churches. It was not to get feedback specifically on the answer to this challenge.
As you might expect there has been a great deal of feedback which we reviewed at last week’s Pastoral Council meeting. Given the extensive and varied nature of the feedback we did not attempt to distill it into simple ideas, although we did identify some themes such as:

  • Our communities are important to us and loss of these communities through church building closure is a real concern.
  • Ours is a sacramental church and somewhat inward looking.
  • Further clarifying the roles of the laity and priests is an important issue.
  • The connection between our schools and churches is an important one.
  • We need a vision for the place of our buildings in the promotion of our mission and use for social justice.

As we move into the next phase of the consultation, the Council has decided to make the feedback from the consultation sessions available to all parishioners via the website. We ask you to take time to look at it and reflect on it. We have not included all individual written submissions, but these can be made available also if parishioners wish to see them and those who wrote them are happy for us to do so.

Next steps
We now move into the phase of beginning to formulate possible solutions.
The first part of that will be a Parish session on Saturday 3rd August at St Anne’s Hall, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
Please mark this date in your diaries and let the Parish Office know if you will be attending.

Stephen Neal
Parish Council Chair

CONSULTATION SESSIONS FEEDBACK

Confirmation Mass, 16 June

We congratulate the children in our parish confirmed by Cardinal John Dew.

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinal John urged us to carry on praying for the children and their families, as they continue on their Sacramental journey in Faith.

Suzanne Aubert Birthday Mass


Tuesday 19 June @ 6pm at St Anne’s Church.
A team of Sisters of Compassion, parishioners and the schools of  Wellington South is preparing together for the Birthday Mass and hospitality afterward. Please join us to celebrate the 184th birthday of this woman of great faith.

This is a special occasion for our Parish as we will take the name of Suzanne Aubert upon her beatification. Cardinal John Dew will celebrate the Mass.
Please bring a plate of finger food if you can, to add to the supper, which the Sisters of Compassion will also cater for.
For more information, contact Deirdre Hanlon-
heritagecentre@compassion. org.nz; 282 1953.

Donate a food item

At the Birthday Mass we will take up a collection of food items. It you would like to contribute, groceries which are especially useful to the Soup Kitchen include tins of lentils (but not baked beans), vegetables, fruit, soup, coconut milk, fish; dried goods such as coffee (fresh and instant), lentils, split peas, pearl barley.