The Parish offices will be closed from 23rd December until Monday 27th January 2020. There will be no newsletters after Sunday 22nd December until Sunday 2nd February.
Ellie has been elected ‘Special Character Leader’ for 2020 at St Catherine’s College. Ellie has been an active member of the St Francis de Sales community for many years. We wish Ellie a wonderful break and all the best for her final year in College
Heartfelt thanks to Margaret O’Sullivan and Michael Burrowes who recently stepped down from the Parish Finance Committee.
The Leadership Team is very grateful for Margaret and Michael’s commitment and dedication to the work of the Committee, and the way they generously shared their time and expertise for the good of the parish. We wish them and their families every blessing.
Above is a link to the letter received.
Below is a copy of the text.
14 November 2019
Dear priests and lay pastoral leaders
Thank you for all the proposals which I have received in response to the memo I sent to you in February about parish property assets, and specifically churches and presbyteries.
I am very aware that the process of preparing your proposals has not been easy, and that in some parishes it has been profoundly unsettling. You have had to deal with parishioners upset by the possibility of change, and I know this has taken a personal toll. You and the people have
responded in your very different circumstances to Pope Francis’ call in Evangelii Gaudium (n 25):
“I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are…Throughout the world, let us be permanently in a state of mission.”
Between now and early February I will study and reflect upon the proposals. I may seek clarification or additional information from you during this time. My approach will be pastoral, looking at the possible effects on people of the changes being proposed. I will also look carefully at how one parish’s proposals might interact with those of neighbouring parishes, and the implications the proposals have together for the whole Archdiocese.
In February and March I will consult with my advisory bodies about the proposals. These bodies are the Council of Priests, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Te Kahu o te Rangi, and the Board of Administration. After Easter, which is in mid-April, I hope to be in a position to advise parishes of my response to the proposals, or to ask that further steps be taken, for example, discussion at regional levels in the Archdiocese.
When I consider the proposals I will not be making a decision to “approve” them. My response to a proposal will be expressed as “no objection”, “further work needed” or “opposed”. It is the parish’s decision to actually proceed with a proposal if I have no objection. Once the parish decides to proceed, its decisions are subject to the Archdiocesan norms and approval processes.
While the proposals were being worked on in parishes there has been a hold on property proposals being presented to or decided by the Board of Administration. This hold continues until I have made a response to all parishes and have notified you that the hold has been lifted.
This hold includes property decisions which may already be in the early stages of the Board of Administration’s processes.
We have not yet come through this difficult and unsettling process, but I would like everyone to now put aside differences and concerns and focus together on the great liturgical seasons and feasts of the next few months – Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. In doing this we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus and one another more deeply and be refreshed in our commitment to both community and mission.
Please share this letter with the groups in your parishes which have been working on the property reviews, and with all parishioners if you wish. There will be a similar article in the December Welcom.
With prayers and thanks for your work
John A Cardinal Dew
Archbishop of Welling
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 email@example.com
or by post to the Parish Office, PO Box 7173 Newtown, Wellington 6242.