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

We pray for our Brothers and Sisters – Lord, hear our prayer

WelCom April 2019:

E īnoi ana mātou mō ō tātou tuākana, tēina – E te Ariki, whakarongo mai ki a mātou

Kilbirnie Mosque, Wellington. Photos: WelCom and supplied

In the wake of the shooting attacks at two Christchurch mosques on Friday 15 March 2019, in which 50 people lost their lives and 50 were injured, prayers, flowers, drawings, tributes and financial support have flowed from across New Zealand and from around the world. Here are some of the many offerings that took place in our two dioceses.

Because we are like Muslims

And so we turned on The News
and we thought what country is this
with all these people screaming and running
and bleeding
and they talked like us
it was our country
and they are us
and then we saw little groups
under the weeping trees
and police so many
and familiar yellow ambulances of St John.
There is the love and the care.
And they talked like us
And oh One God! They are us.
It is our turn.
And next day we went to Mass
and we thought how someone could rush in
and shoot us all dead
because we are like Muslims praying
and we sang make us instruments of peace
and there was blood everywhere
and our hearts were broken before the bread.

15 March 2019
© Anne Powell

“I was with friends taking flowers to Kilbirnie Mosque, on Sunday 17 March, then we went to Lyall Bay for coffee, when we came a cross this written on the Sea Wall . . . ‘We Love Our Muslim Communities Terrorism has no Colour Terrorism has no Religion’.” – June Swain

“All the Masses and liturgies of Word this weekend (16 and 17 March) are in solidarity with our Sisters and Brothers in Abraham, the Father of Faith, for the Jewish, Christian and Muslim peoples. We extend our prayer and love to the members of the Muslim Community in Aotearoa New Zealand. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones and we pray eternal peace for those who have been killed.” – Fr Joe Grayland, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Palmerston North

“There was a special service on Friday 22 March at the Nelson Mosque to honour the victims of the Christchurch attacks and to remember those affected. Around 2000 people of all ages, from all walks of life and all faiths, gathered to show love, support and solidarity with the Nelson Muslim community. The Catholic parishes were well represented.” – Merrick Mitchell, Lay Pastoral Leader, Parish of the Holy Family, Nelson and Stoke

jacinda mar ‘19

the young grieving leader
silently prayed with her
muslim brothers and sisters
her delicate dress of mourning
a shimmering metallic green
like tui in late summer sun

– First verse of a poem by David Loving-Malloy, Palmerston North

“On Friday 15 March we left the church open until 10pm with the paschal candle burning in the middle of the nave. People were free to visit and light a candle and spend some time in the sacred space. On Sunday 17 March we continued with the paschal candle burning in the middle of the nave with fragrant lilies in a vase at its base. Our homilies, prayers and music included the tragedy into our Sunday liturgy.” – Fr Kevin Conroy, Parish Priest, St Mary of the Angels

“I visited the Islamic centre in Waitangarua in Porirua East this morning. It was really quiet. It was touching to see the notes from people and floral tributes and now I know where the Muslim community go to pray. Just over the hill from my place!” – Catherine Gibbs, Plimmerton

At Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt, our permanent way of honouring the deceased and mourning the event will be a statue of hands joined in prayer. The papier maché model for the statue will be made of the thoughts students put onto the Wall of Remembrance. This statue will be a permanent symbol of our love.

Let us sow love

Fr Ron Bennett, Parish Priest, Catholic Parish of Otari

On his visit to the United Arab Emirates in February, Pope Francis met with Muslim leader Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb. The encounter was a meeting of brothers at which these two leaders signed a declaration of fraternity.

The events of 15 March challenge us to work together with all people – irrespective of creed, race, religion, gender etc to build a just and humane society. To get to know our neighbour and to be less isolated from one another. Also, to gently enter into discussion with those of different views. The challenge of building a better society is over to us and is something that we cannot ignore.

Signing the Remembrance
books at St Joseph’s Church, New Plymouth.

The Catholic Parish of New Plymouth staff joined members of the Salvation Army to stand together to Toll the Bell in memory of the Christchurch Mosque victims. The bell was pealed 50 times to commemorate each person who lost their life. The parish also distributed memorial booklets throughout all Mass Centres on Sunday 24 March for signing a book of condolences.

St Teresa’s School, Featherston, made a display of 50 candles to represent the 50 men, women and children killed in the Christchurch mosques.

In addition to the interfaith meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Sunday, 17 March (see p 4), an ecumenical gathering organised by the Palmerston North Christian churches was held at All Saints Church on Sunday afternoon. Over 300 people were present representing all the Christian communities of the city. There were prayers, hymns, prayerful silence and words of support and sympathy from several church reps. I spoke too, and read the prayer of St Francis, commenting on his visit to Muslims in Egypt 800 years ago. There was a live video link and conversation with Hazim Arafeh, President of the Muslim society speaking from Christchurch. Members of the local community were present. Prayers were offered for all those affected – the victims, their families and friends, the Muslim community, Police and other emergency personnel, medical staff, the city of Christchurch, and the wider community of Aotearoa New Zealand. – Bishop Owen Dolan, Palmerston North

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”(Matthew 5:1-12)

The Friday 15 March event in Christchurch triggered a huge amount of support for our Muslim brothers and sisters here at Bishop Viard College, Porirua – support for our Muslim teacher and students and for the whole Muslim community in Christchurch and Aotearoa.

On Monday 18 March our whole school gathered for a Liturgy and joined in pray for those who lost their lives, for their families and for all who had been traumatised.

During the week, a decade of the Rosary was said each day – five decades for the 50 people who lost their lives. Our head students attended the Titahi Bay Mosque and placed flowers in remembrance of them.

Our students created a banner on which each wrote a message of support for the Muslim community, which they presented to the Newlands Mosque on Friday 22 March.

And on the same Friday we shared two minutes’ silence with the rest of Aotearoa. As we had begun the week, we ended it with the whole school coming together in prayer led by senior students. After the liturgy everyone gathered outside and performed our school Haka. – Kelly Ross, DRS, Bishop Viard College

A week of response was held at Garin College to events in Christchurch. A special assembly on Monday morning 18 March enabled the school to meet as a community in prayer and reflection. The School Sacred Space was set aside for students for support or reflection.

In whānau classes on Wednesday students were encouraged to sign condolence sheets, which were gathered and bound into a book to be sent to the two mosques and the Muslim community in Christchurch.

On Thursday, prayers and reflections were held at the student-led assembly for the Christchurch Muslim community and for the people of New Zealand.

On Friday 22 March, students were invited to fast through the day and also to place a gold coin in the quad, the proceeds of which were sent to the Christchurch Muslim community.

A representative group from the college went to the Nelson Mosque to stand outside in support of the Nelson Muslim Community.

At 1.30pm, Friday, the college gathered in the quad for prayers and listening to the Muslim call to prayer, followed by two minutes of silence and singing a waiata.

– Peter Mellor, Religious Studies Faculty, Garin College


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, © 1952

Read by Fr Michael McCabe at Our Lady of Kāpiti Mass, Sunday 17 March, 2019.

The Parish collected $6800 for the Muslim community, which was donated to the Kilbirnie Mosque.

“In his moving homily on Sunday 17 March, Fr John van de Kaa linked the first Reading about the covenant and Abrahamic law with the other Abrahamic faiths – Jews and Muslims. It seemed timely reminder of what Islam teaches about Jesus Christ. On Monday 18 March, parish priest Fr Maurice Carmody, went to our local Mosque in Waitangirua and left flowers from his garden with a message to the community of prayers and thoughts from our parish.” – Catherine Gibbs, St Theresa’s Parish, Plimmerton

“On Tuesday, 19 March, the 600 students at St Mary’s College, Wellington, sat in silence reflecting for a 15-minute prayer vigil. As New Zealanders and as Christians, we came together to pray for and remember 50 people as innocent human beings who only wanted to show their devotion to Islam. With a representative from each year group lighting a candle in honour of those whose lives were lost, the vigil was a peaceful gathering with a focus on what we can do further to ensure that despite different faith beliefs there are no barriers between us.” – Melissa Ready, Deputy Head Girl Special Character

St Francis of Ohariu Parish

“On Sunday afternoon, 17 March, the our parish gathered with other members of the local community to commemorate the lives tragically taken in Christchurch, and to pray in solidarity for our sisters and brothers of Islam. As we lit 50 candles for each of the deceased, and blessed a candle and peace lily to be taken to the Masjid in Kilbirnie, we sought to translate our feelings of grief and solidarity into a sustained loving response of relationship, which will prevent such events from happening again. As said by the Muslim mystic, Rumi:

Why be a worshiper of the dead
think of me as a goner
come and make up now
Since you will come
and throw kisses
at my tombstone later
why not give them to me now
this is me
that same person.”

– Daniel Kleinsman

Islam is the world’s second most popular religion, and together with Christianity represents over half the world’s population. As we come to grips with what has occurred, let us pray for those who have faced the horrors of Friday and the Muslim community. The messages being conveyed are that we all wish for love, hope and peace. This is our wish too.

There are some practical steps we all can take. Some of us may have direct contact with those in Christchurch. Contact them, let them feel loved and they will feel safer. Use this time of Lent to look out for each other, check on each other’s wellbeing. Use the events of Friday to strike up conversations and reach out to those in your daily life, those you live and work with, your neighbours, people you see at the supermarket or across the street, and make contact so that we all feel safe in our own community and get to know one another.

Today we celebrate the feast of St Joseph and St Joseph’s school had planned and selected the music prior to Friday’s events. As we sing in celebration, the words help to remind us of the need for love in our lives so we may all live together as one. By singing the words and remembering them, we will help to spread God’s love throughout our community, country and the world. Today we also recognise the other struggles we face in our lives.” – Notice given just prior to Sunday Mass, 17 March, by Alistair Baird, Parish Council Chair, St Brigid’s, Pahiatua