WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

CWL conference abuzz with ideas

Anne Lumb

The Catholic Women’s League will be asking parliament to ban the advertising of prescription drugs on TV, regulate the advertising of instant finance and debt rescheduling loans, reprint the booklet Considering an Abortion – what are your options, increase hospice funding, ban the sale of fireworks to the public, and enhance public transport in urban areas.

These six remits were agreed on at its national conference in Wellington on 20 July.

Some 200 members came from all over New Zealand to the conference which outgoing president Geraldine Scott, chaired. The purpose was to explore the theme for the next two years of ‘Church, Culture and Identity’ and to discuss social issues affecting the country today.

The conference opened with Archbishop John Dew and concelebrating priests offering Mass of the Holy Spirit at St Joseph’s Church. The archbishop’s sermon showed how the Holy Spirit works within the church through practical charity – care for our society and each other as described in Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est. The local MP, Annette King, joined in the conference opening.

Each day highlighted ideas behind the theme. On Friday the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Balvo gave the keynote address on a-culturalisation. its origin, growth, and expression in spreading the gospel today. He reviewed the place of Christianity in the contemporary materialistic world where the ‘gods’ are success, power and wealth while mass media blend local cultural distinctions to a general international average. Though the term is recent, he notes that the church has always taken the best features of the current society it inhabits and adapted them according to Christian principles.

CWL’s theme was further explored on Saturday with a panel discussion. Church historian, Msgr John Broadbent, looked at the origins of the church, describing its spirit and practices. These were set up by the apostles who had known Jesus personally and he said recent changes return to the spirit of the early era.

Professor Philip Knight reviewed the place of the church in western European culture and its rich artistic heritage. Noting that the term ‘culturisation’ dates from 1979, he went on to assess the likely shifts in emphasis as traditional culture mixes with current ideas -post modernism, the cult of the individual, post-colonialism and environmental challenges.

Tara D’Sousa, of Caritas, saw identity as how a person faces life’s big questions and gave an example of how the issues raised can be worked through by one individual. She charted her own life as she moved through various strata of Indian and New Zealand society using her faith and her education in social service. She considers that today active Christianity means working for the under privileged and the migrant, and against family violence and the feminisation of poverty, not by prescription but through empowerment.

A Sister of St Joseph from the Hamilton Diocese, Sister June Hickland, was Sunday’s guest speaker. Sister June’s work with isolated communities of the North Island’s west coast shows the church adapting to local conditions.She runs the Hauroto Mission from her campervan bringing liturgy, faith education and counselling. An impromptu collection produced $600 for educational materials.

On the business side the conference received reports from each diocese, its three national specialist officers (Missions, International and Social Concerns secretaries) and from the bodies to which the League is affiliated – NCW, WUCWO, PPSEAWA, the Homes Trust and Church Women United.

The Mission report included the funds donated to both overseas and New Zealand groups – $219,830.00 was raised in the last year, an increase despite a decline in membership. The ‘At Home Appeal’ totalled a record $10,510.00 for Autism New Zealand and on Saturday afternoon the cheque was presented to Nicola Stace and friends representing the society.

A vote of thanks was given to retiring President Geraldine Scott and her Hamilton based team. The next executive will be from the South island under the leadership of Tui Pascoe from Invercargill.

The Conference ended with a Mass of Thanksgiving and Remembrance offered by Christchurch Chaplain Fr Jim Morrison, whose presence for all sessions was greatly appreciate