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

Mary Month of May – Ko Maria te Marama o Haratua

WelCom May 2018:

May is the month dedicated to Mary, the month during which we celebrate the two great feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost and the inauguration of the new memorial feast, Mary, Mother of the Church, on the Monday after Pentecost, dedicated to Mary as the Mother of the Church.


Mary, Mother of the Church: Someone who is always near

Tom Rouse

May we walk gently through the month of May with Mary, our Blessed Mother. Photos: Annette Scullion

Back in 1998 I remember visiting the church of St Anne’s in the old city of Jerusalem. Just inside the entrance is a statue of Anne and her young daughter, Mary. The church compound is a quiet place and a relief from the noisy streets of the city. Alongside it is the pool of Bethesda where Jesus reputedly healed the man who had been bedridden for many years (Jn 5:2-9). Choirs come from around the world to sing in the church because of its outstanding acoustics. It is a place that evokes the presence of our blessed Mother Mary, reminding us of her remarkable upbringing, a place where we can turn to her for healing and sing her praises.

Throughout the month of May, let us place flowers at the feet of Mary since she also keeps us in touch with mother-earth.

The memory of this statue continues to evoke in me a sense of admiration for this extraordinary woman and, indeed, her own remarkable parents. The statue reminds me that this young woman grew up in a land that was enduring brutal occupation and unremitting conflict. Despite the circumstances, her upbringing instilled in her a sensitivity to the movement of the Spirit of God in her life and the courage to respond to that Spirit without delay.

I recall this church and its statue of Mary as a young girl as I reflect upon the significance of the month of May, when we remember and pay tribute to Mary as our blessed mother, our mother in faith and a mother who is very much in our midst.

It is a month which always begins with a memorial dedicated to her husband, Joseph, and concludes with a feast in memory of her journey to visit and support her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary’s family was important to her because it was within this family circle that she could face the risk of shame as an unmarried mother and still find and give support in times of greatest need.

This year, during the month of May, we will also celebrate the two great solemnities of the Ascension (13 May) and Pentecost (20 May). Both these events would have been occasions during which Mary stood with the members of her new family as a mother who supported these followers of her Son as they grappled with their own shame at having deserted their Lord and Master and stood with them as they were filled with the Spirit and given the courage to continue the mission of Jesus, their Saviour.

This year Pope Francis has also proclaimed that the Monday after Pentecost (21 May) be celebrated as a memorial to Mary as the Mother of the Church and as a mother who is very much within the Church. The title reminds me of the most contentious debate and closest vote during the Second Vatican Council when the bishops chose to include the Church’s teachings on Mary within the dogmatic constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium). They chose to include Mary within the Church rather than see her as above the Church. They chose to emphasise her humanity and her closeness to her children within the Church. Hence the adoption of the title given her by blessed Pope Paul VI during the Council (Address at the conclusion of the third session of Vatican II, 21 November 1964).

This title is a reminder the Church is also our Mother. I know that, for example, for many Catholic migrants to New Zealand, the church can sometimes be the one place where they find comfort and support and where they feel at home because it is familiar.

So throughout this month of May let sit and pray with Mary, our beloved mother. As we sing our hymns, say our rosaries, share scriptural readings, there are a number of intentions for which we could pray. Pray for parents as they seek to instil values by which their children find joyful purpose and meaning in life. Pray for healing of mind, body and spirit as we cope with living in an increasingly stressful world. Pray for peace and hope, especially for those who live in places, cities and countries that are ravaged by constant fighting and unimaginable destruction. Pray for musicians and songwriters that we may continue to hear and give voice to melodies and lyrics, whether ancient or modern, that lift the human spirit and give a sense of the presence of God.

And, as we place flowers at the feet of Mary, let us pray for the wind and the sea, the soil and the rain, and for the animals, especially those who are in danger of extinction, for it must be painful to a Mother to see the wounds afflicted upon the environment, the very source of all life.

May we walk gently through the month of May with Mary, our Blessed Mother.

Fr Tom Rouse is Mission Coordinator, St Columbans Mission Society, Lower Hutt.

And, as we place flowers at the feet of Mary, let us pray for the wind and the sea, the soil and the rain, and for the animals, especially those who are in danger of extinction, for it must be painful to a Mother to see the wounds afflicted upon the environment, the very source of all life.


Pope Francis has decreed the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.

The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris will be celebrated every year as a Memorial on the Monday after Pentecost.

The decree was released on Saturday 3 March 2018 by Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church and how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in ‘the maternal sense of the Church’ and in ‘genuine Marian piety’.

The decree says Scripture depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she ‘accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.’

The Marian title of ‘Mother of the Church’, was given to the Blessed Mother by Blessed Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.

In 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, will be celebrated on 21 May.

Source: Vatican News