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

Kimi Ora Faith and Light Community visit Hiruharama

May 2016

Noeline McSweeney

Maree and Cheryn carrying the Faith and Light banner.

Maree and Cheryn carrying the Faith and Light banner.

The Kimi Ora Faith and Light Community is a strong movement within the parish in New Plymouth, working with disabled children. It began 14 years ago and every month 24 members meet together with their families and friends for a time of prayer, music, praise, fellowship and fun.

In answer to the call to pilgrimage in the Year of Mercy the Kimi Ora Community travelled to Hiruharama, Jerusalem, 64 km up the Whanganui River. It was here in 1892 Suzanne Aubert founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, known as the Sisters of Compassion, and the only New Zealand-founded religious congregation.

We stayed the weekend at the convent. It was a perfect place for spending time together, sharing faith, light and love. Our time was spent in reflection in the prayer garden, Taize prayer, song, dance and mime. Liturgy of the Word with Communion was celebrated in the church. Our ‘Heart’ people, family and friends enjoyed every moment of our pilgrimage to a place of peace and solitude.

Faith and Light are communities made up of persons with an intellectual disability, their families and friends, particularly young friends, who meet together on a regular basis in a Christian spirit, to share friendship, pray together, fiesta and celebrate life.

The mother of one of the Faith and Light members on the pilgrimage said, ‘Sam just loved the beautiful statue of Holy Mother Mary in the garden at Jerusalem. He kissed her feet. He also loved the Stations of the Cross in the garden. They really helped him to pray.’

The Faith and Light Community is an international organisation whose roots are founded in the desire to help people with learning difficulties, and their family and friends, by fostering friendship, prayer, celebration and sharing. There are approximately 1600 communities in 81 countries. A local Faith and Light Community is usually a group of 15 to 40 people ‒ children, teenagers or adults with an intellectual disability ‒ as well as their family and friends, who meet together at least once a month for a gathering of friendship, sharing, prayer and celebration.

The international organisation is based on the work of Canadian philosopher and theologian, Jean Vanier. In 1964 he created l’Arche, welcoming adults with intellectual disabilities in a small home at Trosly-Breuil in Oise, France. In 1971 he founded Faith and Life with Marie-Helene Mathieu who in 1963 had created OCH ‒ Christian office for disabled people.

Visit the Faith and Light website www.faithandlight.org to learn more.