Archbishop John Dew
These amazing words from John’s gospel (4:5-15) come to mind as I grapple with the challenges facing the Archdiocese of Wellington at this time.
Not long ago Pope Benedict called the Church to a Year of Faith, to a New Evangelisation. He had a vision for the Church.
Pope Francis, too, has a vision. Before the conclave in March, the cardinals met to reflect and pray together about the Church and on what kind of leader God wanted at this time. Each cardinal had the chance to share his vision for the Church.
Cardinal Jorge Borgoglio from Argentina, stated his clearly: ‘A church is called to go out of herself to evangelise out on the frontiers. These frontiers are not just geographic but wherever there is “the mystery of sin”, pain, injustice, ignorance, poverty.’
‘The Pope,’ he continued, ‘will be a man of contemplation of Jesus Christ, who will lead the church out to these frontiers, and will be the compassion of Jesus there on those frontiers.’
I am sure that this is the gift God is offering us in the Archdiocese of Wellington today. It is the gift to receive ‘the living water’ of his love and grace in the frontiers of our archdiocese, the gift to be the compassion of Christ in our families, our parishes, our chaplaincies, our schools and colleges.
In the May issue of Wel-Com you will read about proposed changes in the structure of the archdiocese. From May to August I will present a consultation document which will address this question:
- How can we be that compassion of Christ wherever we are
- How can we make our parishes places of hospitality, healing, holiness and helping in order to be dynamic witnesses of the gospel for our day
- How can we invite others to experience the joy of encounter we have with Jesus Christ in the church?
As I have done on previous occasions, I invite you to come with me, as together we allow Christ to create that future in and through us. That is our mission.
The Vision Statement of the archdiocese reminds us that we are committed to follow Christ and promote the Kingdom of God by celebrating God in our lives, sharing our living faith, growing in community and working for justice and peace.
This vision calls us into the future. Over the next few months, I encourage you to fully participate in the consultation process in your parish and pastoral area. Share your ideas with one another, with your parish leaders and with me.
There may be changes in the number of parishes in the archdiocese. I count on and value your experience and insight as I make these decisions. I will visit all the pastoral areas over the next few months to explain these proposed changes and to listen before I make final decisions.
During May, biblical scholar and story teller Dr Megan McKenna will be at several events to help us deepen our understanding of the gift God is offering us in the scriptures. Parish and pastoral area leaders are attending sessions, taking up the co-responsibility with me for the life of the archdiocese.
Many years ago, on the Island of Iona, I had a powerful insight into ‘the gift that God is offering me’ when I heard those words that have upheld me and called me forth during the 18 years I have been a bishop, and now Archbishop of Wellington: those words were ‘Feed my sheep’. I know that a shepherd cannot work alone.
Will you come with me in the mission of the Church to feed the people of God? Will you come with me as we move into a new stage in the life of the archdiocese?