Fr James Lyons
Laughter, joy, and delightful cries of ‘Great to see you again!’ and ‘Do you remember…?’ filled two days of reunion over Labour Weekend as Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Primary School, St Mary’s College, and the Marist Brothers’ school, celebrated 165 years of Catholic presence.
Faith was the winner, as young and not so young met to celebrate and give thanks for a formation in eternal values that prepared them for life in the world.
Even Wellington’s fickle spring weather sparkled for the occasion and the parish and school communities rallied to provide an ideal setting for the present to meet the past.
An exhibition of photographs and memorabilia, carefully prepared by St Mary’s archivist, Margaret Deere, filled the college library. With similar care and expertise, Sr Marcellin Wilson rsm presented a fascinating and extremely colourful display of liturgical garments, vestments and sacred vessels in the cathedral. Here, photographs and articles also remembered the Thorndon Marist Brothers’ School which closed in the 1970s to enable the urban motorway construction.
People enjoyed two evenings of meeting and reminiscing over celebratory meals. Three guest dinner speakers provided a highlight. Two Mercy Sisters (Sr de Porres and Sr Marcellin) spoke of the Mercy charism evolving over the 165 years from being primarily concerned with teaching to embracing a range of ministries including nursing to social justice concerns and the care of women victims of violence and abuse.
The third speaker, Aysser Aljanabi, was St Mary’s Head Girl in 2006. Aysser is Muslim and gave a glowing account of her time at St Mary’s. She witnessed the extent to which understanding and acceptance of differences have advanced over the last 165 years.
The jubilee climaxed with a Mass of thanksgiving. Held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, just a few doors away from Sacred Heart Cathedral, this also showed the remarkable growth in ecumenical relations. Its larger capacity enabled a greater than normal congregation to gather.