Te Whetu o Te Moana, Star of the Sea Parish – Inaugural Mass
Belinda Vavaso, parishioner
It was a beautiful summer’s day with the cicadas noisy in the trees on Sunday 14 February 2016, as a large group of people gathered in the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Blenheim for the inaugural Mass for Te Whetu O Te Moana – Star of the Sea Parish, Marlborough. Coming together were the former parishes of Sacred Heart Kaikoura, St Joseph’s, Picton, and St Mary’s, Blenheim.
Cardinal John Dew was unable to be with us and Vicar General, Monsignor Gerry Burns came in his stead to preside.
In an open-sided tent, beautifully decorated with Tapa cloth and greenery by the women from the Pacific Islands communities, a Karanga welcomed Monsignor Gerry Burns, Fr John Pearce cp (representing Fr Tom Donohoe of the Passionist Vicariate of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam), the Pastoral team and invited guests. This was followed by the entrance procession of children from the three primary schools and representatives from each of the seven churches involved in the amalgamation.
Monsignor Burns replied to the Karanga saying the community could draw on the strength and hopes of those who went before and quoted the Māori proverb, ‘my strength is not the strength of one but the strength of many’.
After the readings and homily, the congregation renewed their Baptismal vows. Their loud affirmation of these promises reminded us all that Baptism welcomes us to the family of Christ and calls us to mission as communities rooted in prayer, caring for others in homes and neighbourhoods, caring for our environments, and with strong links to Social Justice.
The Pastoral team of Frs Patrick cp, Giltus cp, Deacon Richard and LPL Patsy Buttle were commissioned, followed by commissioning of the Parish Working Group and Finance Team.
Monsignor Burns reminded everyone although structures are changing, the Pastoral Parish and Mission remain the same. He urged us all to tackle the challenges that arise with the same bravery our forebears showed more than 150 years ago as they established the Catholic Church in Marlborough.
Temperatures soared into the high 20 degrees so water stations and a First Aid station were a necessary part of the celebration planning for the celebration. Estimates of those present ranged from 400 to 600 – maybe even 700 – but whatever the final count, those attending were privileged to be a part of a new beginning for their faith journey in this new Parish.