Kia tau te rangimarie kia koutou E hoa mā,
New Year greetings and blessings to you all. My last newsletter to you was on 17 December 2020. I began that newsletter by saying “There is no doubt that 2020 will go down as a difficult year,” and then went on to speak of the challenges of Covid-19. I am not sure what this year is going to be, what challenges there will be, what will happen in the Church and around the world. Whatever happens, there will be blessings.
On the 2 January I was able to share with you the news that Bishop Paul Martin SM has been appointed by Pope Francis as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington. That is a great blessing. While serving as Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington, Archbishop Paul will also act as the Administrator of the Diocese of Christchurch. He and I will be having discussions tomorrow to finalise plans for his coming to Wellington and how we will share responsibilities. I will also share with you as soon as possible a date for a liturgical reception for Archbishop Paul. I extend a very warm welcome to him.
On 8 December last year Pope Francis issued a letter on St Joseph called Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) in which he declared a “Year of St Joseph”. That is a blessing for all of us. The Pope reminds us that special prayers are offered to St Joseph every Wednesday. I suggest to all parishes that when possible (when it is not another Feastday) that Masses on Wednesdays should be celebrated as a Votive Mass of St Joseph. That will be a blessing for us.
On 15 January Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio Spiritus Domini in which he modifies Canon 230 § 1 regarding the access of women to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. Some people may think that this is not a big deal, but in actual fact it is highly symbolic and should be seen as a very welcome development in liturgical ministries. Spiritus Domini is the latest movement in a long-term process to enable the whole People of God to have ownership of the liturgy, to take part in the liturgy as their vocation and to see themselves as ministers with the Church. This too is a great blessing because it enables us to see that these ministries are now mandated in canon law.
There will continue to be challenges and difficulties this year. The on-going threat of the spread of Covid-19 is still there, but there are blessings in that too as we saw last year when people went out of their way to assist others, to put others first. We will need to keep doing that, Covid-19 or not; that is what our lives as Catholics is all about. As the Church’s Catechism reminds us “every baptised person is called to be a blessing and to bless.” CCC 1669
With abundant blessings for the year ahead.