WelCom August 2019:
Te Wiki o Ngā Karanga Tūranga Whakapono ā Motu 4–11 Akuhata 2019
National Vocations Awareness Week is a call from the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand for vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life and to renew our prayers and support for those considering a vocational calling.
Vocations come from families, communities and parishes. Strong families and communities are the place where vocations are first nurtured. In this National Vocations Awareness Week, let us pray for all families in our parish, and for those preparing for marriage. Let us also pray that our parish community may always be welcoming and encouraging of vocations to marriage, priesthood and consecrated life.
Sunday 4 August is the feast of St John Vianney, the patron of parish clergy. Pray for your priests in thanksgiving for their ministry and presence in your community. Thursday 8 August is the feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Pray for the religious who do so much in pastoral care, education, health care and many other ministries. Pray also that these saints may inspire many vocations to consecrated life and priesthood, especially from your community.
Isabella McCafferty was one of two New Zealand delegates selected by the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference to participate in the International Youth Forum in Rome, June 19–22. Citing Pope Francis’ urging in Christus Vivit that ‘young people themselves are agents of youth ministry,’ the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life invited nearly 250 young adults from 109 countries to participate in the forum to discuss how best to implement ideas from the 2018 Synod of Bishops in their home dioceses. Christus Vivit is Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation written in response to 2018 Synod. Isabella said, ‘Being able to briefly meet Pope Francis was overwhelming and something I will never forget. It all happened very quickly! I wanted to thank him for giving young people a voice but because of the language barrier and time pressure I chose to simply focus on looking him in the eyes, smiling and shaking his hand. He has a very strong handshake and looked me straight in the eyes with authenticity and love. As I left I thanked him in Spanish. After meeting him I am even more convinced of his integrity, humility and determination to serve God and the Church faithfully and he is genuine when he asks for our prayers.’
Accompanying young people on vocational discernment
In a similar article a year ago I posed the question, ‘What makes you feel most alive?’ and suggested this helps us to uncover parts of our vocation that are already within us. A year on I would like to pose a further question, one that asks us to engage with the world around us.
Three years ago, I attended my first meeting in Rome related to the Synod of Young People, which deals intimately with the topic of vocational discernment. During this meeting, Pope Francis suggested rather than spending time focusing on the question of ‘Who am I?’ we should instead ask ‘For whom am I?’ This question is included in his latest publication, Christus Vivit (286). I was back in Rome in June this year at a forum about the implementation of the Synod.
The Synod on Young People has given the Church two specific tasks: to consider how we can better accompany young people in hearing the unique call of God in their lives; and hearing the Holy Spirit speaking through the voices of young people about the vocation of the Church in the world today. In this way the Church continues to find itself in a moment of discernment.
Chapters 8 and 9 of Christus Vivit tackle the topics of vocation and discernment. Pope Francis speaks of two senses of vocation. One being the broad sense, our universal call to holiness. Here he says the most important discernment we each do is in discovering that Jesus wants to be our friend (CV, 250). He then speaks of vocation in the strict sense, as a call to missionary service to others (CV 253) saying that ‘our life on earth reaches full stature when it becomes an offering’ (CV 254) and this is not just a message for young people. In fact, when the Church considers only itself then it is betraying its own vocation.
A calling, an invitation, must come from elsewhere. It is never truly ours. We must trust if we respond, we will intercept with the realisation this is what we were made for. Recently, in the face of a particular set of challenges, I had to face up yet again to this question. For whom am I? My call, though unique, is most importantly about how I can be of service to those around me; their needs, challenges, joys and hopes. Each of us has this capacity within us, so may we constantly risk asking this question and see how the answer calls us beyond ourselves.
Isabella McCafferty has recently moved from the Archdiocese of Wellington’s Family and Young Church Vicariate to take up a new leadership role in parish pastoral support in the Diocese of Palmerston North.
A Vocation to the Priesthood
Fr Alan Roberts
I am one of those who probably always knew, at least from the age of ten or so.
Was I inspired by a priest? Yes, one priest in particular, but for some reason I didn’t set out to become a Diocesan Priest. I joined the Redemptorists, and when I realised I could no longer continue there, it was the memory of his example that kept the dream alive within me and at 28 I was ordained in Hawera.
Was there family influence? Yes, but not pressure. My mother was always assuring me I was to do this only if God was calling. She was terrified I might think I had to do it to please her. I think it is from this memory I have come to realise the Will of God is the basis of our spirituality.
Was there influence from other sources? Yes, the Sisters of St Joseph and the Marist Brothers must bear some of the blame! We’ve listened to a lot of criticism of these educators over the years but to me it’s undeserved and certainly not my experience. Who could not appreciate the encouragement and concern of those men and women? Tough people? Of course! Mad, bad or sad? You must be joking.
When I look back at how it all happened, I understand we do influence one another. St Paul says something about it…the life and death of each of us has its influence on others. If we live, we live for the Lord…” ‒ Romans 14:7ff.
I am truly grateful for the influences on me from people who belong to the Lord. What a world it would be if we handed it on.
Fr Alan Roberts is parish priest at Hāta Mere rāua ko Hāto Hōhepa Parish – Ss Mary and Joseph Parish of Ōtaki and Levin. A priest of the Archdiocese of Wellington, he previously joined the staff of Holy Cross Seminary in 2012 as Spiritual Director. He was ordained in 1972 and has had many years of interest and involvement in contemplative prayer and Ignatian spirituality. He has also written three books to assist and encourage others to deepen their prayer life. Prior to joining the seminary staff, he was parish priest at St Mary’s parish in Blenheim for six years.
The call to Priesthood must be talked about
Cardinal John Dew
This is a difficult time in our history to be asking people to think about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Church throughout the world and continue to do so. It is hard to talk to young men about the possibility of priesthood when they hear so much about how so many have been abused and betrayed by those they should have been able to trust.
However, the call to priesthood must be talked about. It is still a rewarding and very satisfying life. It is a life of service and brings with it the incredible privilege of walking alongside others in all aspects of their lives. It gives those of us who are priests the chance to try to be the presence of Christ to others ‒ and that is a privilege and a blessing I cannot put into words. Even in the midst of a Church in disarray and disappointment the call to priesthood is obviously still there.
Vocations Awareness Week will be observed from 4–11 August this year throughout New Zealand. Will that week be any different for us from any other week of the year? Will our parishes, schools and colleges do something special to encourage teenagers and young adults to think about the possibility of priesthood and religious life? Will parents mention it as a possibility to their sons and daughters. Do our priests regularly ask young men if they have thought about priesthood as a possibility?
A few months ago, we formed an Archdiocesan Vocations Committee who are now working with Fr David Dowling, Archdiocesan Vocations Director. This group of generous people, consisting of three lay women and two priests, is looking at ways to raise the profile of priestly vocations in the Archdiocese. In particular, they will explore the promotion of vocations among young people, and assist in accompanying those who are considering priesthood.
Please pray in support of the work of the Archdiocesan Vocations Committee, and please reflect on how you could invite suitable young men to consider priesthood. Pray also for our three seminarians Alfred, Matthew and Kinh as they pursue their studies and formation for the priesthood.
Lord Jesus, you invite us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He send labourers into His harvest.
Lord and God of all, call to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Wellington men on fire with your love, who will be the voice of the Good Shepherd to the scattered sheep of the flock.
Lord and Saviour, bless us with holy priests. Through their ministry may your life-giving presence in the sacraments be always present in your Church.
Lord and Giver of Life, raise up men filled with your power and with great missionary zeal, so that all who dwell in darkness may come to live in the light of Christ.
Lord of the harvest, send labourers into your harvest.
My Vocation to Priesthood
Originally from Vietnam and Palmerston North resident for several years, Fr Vui Xuan Hoang was ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on 29 June this year. WelCom spoke to Vui about his vocation.
- How did you discern your vocation to the priesthood?
In my first year in in Uni, I felt the call to priesthood ‒ a fire kindled in my heart. It kept happening for more than six months. Eventually, I told my family I wanted to become a priest. That was the beginning of my priesthood journey.
- What motivated you to answer the call to priesthood?
‘I have chosen you, you did not choose me’. When I started my vocation, I thought I chose or decided to be a priest. But some years later, at a retreat, I realised it was not me who chose or started the fire of wanting to become a priest, but Christ, who put it in my heart. Also, the words of Christ, echoed many times through St Pope John Paul II: ‘Do not be afraid’, helps me to follow and maintain the journey to priesthood.
- How does it feel to be a newly ordained priest?
What a blessing! The Eucharist – is the summit of the life of the Church and of each one of us. Eucharist is always the central of my life. A thousand charity works is not equal as a Mass, because those are the works of human, but the Mass is the work of God (St John Vianney). The experience of being close to Christ – as Persona Christi in the Eucharist – is so overwhelming.
- What lies ahead for you in your ministry?
It is still early for me to comment on this. So please continue to pray for me, so that I will follow the Will of God.
- Do you have any advice to others considering a priestly or religious vocation?
‘Do not be afraid’ – John Paul II.
- Do you have other thoughts to share?
Thanks for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for us, especially to Deacon Martin Wu and Matthew Gibson, who are preparing for their ordination to the priesthood in August. God Bless, Vui Hoang.
Ngā Whaea Atawhai O Aotearoa
Sisters of Mercy New Zealand
Sr Linda van Bussel rsm
- Follow Jesus
- Care for the poor and most vulnerable
- Care for our Common Home
- Work collaboratively
Catherine McAuley, an Irish religious sister who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831, was ‘a woman of great compassion of heart whose compassion deepened as her work among the poor grew. Catherine at first saw her mission as a call to bring to the Lord’s anawim (poor and marginalised) in the local environment ‒ a tender experience of God’s love’, Sr M Carmel Bourke rsm, A Woman Sings of Mercy.
Today as Sisters of Mercy we walk in the footsteps of Catherine by reading and looking through the lens of our times and Whakawhanaungatanga ‒ making right relationships with God, others, self and Earth. Prayer is a fundamental part of everything we do, using our education to minister with integrity in a way that is professional, up to date and relevant.
Some ministries we are involved in are:
- Homelessness ‒ we are working towards a shelter for homeless woman in Auckland having already participated in founding the Wellington Homeless Women’s Shelter. We are providing affordable accommodation for older adults, for example Mercy Villas in Upper Hutt and Coolock Cottages in Dunedin.
- The estranged, hurt and suffering are needing reconciliation and a sense of belonging ‒ we are involved through counselling, spiritual direction, parish and pastoral work and restorative justice.
- Education ‒ we see education all its forms as a way forward. We are involved in many levels whether it be in classrooms, lecture theatres or one on one.
- Advocacy ‒ we walk with beneficiaries going to government agencies, with women in prison, with those accessing disability services.
- Healthcare ‒ we minister in hospitals, a hospice, in homeopathy, and other allied health areas.
- Working collaboratively – we work with other agencies, for example, with Red Cross resettling refugees, with Pax Christi moving towards world peace, with City Missions.
- Healing of earth ‒ we have a deep awareness of Earth becoming unwell and take measures towards healing it. We have garden programmes and recycling in our homes and places of ministry.
In November 2018, a Mercy Asia Pacific gathering had its first meeting in Samoa of faith-based people uniting on climate change and displacement of peoples. As Sisters of Mercy we plan to advocate and act locally, within our countries and in our Asia Pacific region, regarding the Degradation of Earth and Displacement of People.
If this touches a desire in you please contact Sr Fatima or Sr Linda at email@example.com if you would like to know more.
Linda van Bussel is a Sister of Mercy with a ministry in homeopathy. She was born and raised in Whanganui.
Rosminians at St Mary’s Palmerston North
Fr Manoj Mathew IC and Fr Robin Kurian IC
Recently Son Van Phan took a formal step in the journey of Religious Life, as he was accepted and welcomed by Fr Michael Hill IC as a Postulant with the Institute of Charity or Rosminians. Postulare means to ask to join.
Blessed Antonio Rosmini founded the Order in 1828 at Monte Calvario, in the north of Italy close to the Swiss border. His purpose was simple yet profound: let us come together in a community of prayer, contemplation, learning and works of charity to help each other to become the best Christians we can by encouraging each other in faith.
The works of charity we Rosminians undertake are not our projects but are our ‘yes’ to the requests of local Bishops and their people. Our founder preferred that we not build up our own large institutions but instead remain humble and agile, ready to take on the works that Providence – God’s desire for goodness in the world – might place before us.
We are happy to have our Postulancy House here in Palmerston North. It is a home of discernment and service and all are welcome.