The Catholic parish of St Mary’s, Foxton, and St Joseph’s, Shannon, is celebrating 100 years of parish life this year.
There has been a worshipping community in the district for more than 150 years served initially by Marist priests from Otaki. The parish churches were built in 1881 [St Mary’s] and 1900 [St Joseph’s] and the parish was formally established as part of the Wellington Diocese in 1908.
Fr John Kelly was the first parish priest. The centenary celebrations began in February with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Owen Dolan in St Joseph’s, Shannon.
The parish gathered for the official celebration on Friday, April 11. Bishop Peter Cullinane celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and was assisted by Bishop Owen and several former priests of the parish—Frs Patrick Cumiskey, Terry Carr, Kieran Rice and Michael Lloyd and by Marist Fathers Percy Kimble and Kevin Mears.
Other special guests included representatives from the Sisters of St Brigid who have been involved in the parish since 1911, and leaders of all the churches in Foxton and Shannon and some 100 parishioners.
Mass was followed by dinner during which many stories and memories of parish life were shared from altar boy antics to fundraising for families with special needs. It was a wonderful occasion filled with camaraderie and laughter.
Celebrations continue throughout the year and a schedule of events is given below. A very warm invitation is extended to all past parishioners to join them at any time.
In July there will be an historical display after Mass each Sunday of the month on July 6 and 13 from 10.15 am to 12.15 pm at St Joseph’s Shannon and on July 20 and 27 from 12 noon – 4.00pm in the Parish Hall, Foxton.
On October 26 there will be a parish steam train outing; on Nov 2 parishioners are invited to an old-time parish picnic wearing costumes from 1908 to 2008 at a venue to be confirmed.
On December 7 there will be the official closure of the centenary year with a celebratory Eucharist followed by morning tea—10.00 am at St Mary’s, Foxton.