Archbishop’s column: a year on the journey

December 2009 ‘ Advent ‘ the Lord comes. It is also a time to look back over the amazing gift this past year has been:

December 2009 – Advent – the Lord comes. It is also a time to look back over the amazing gift this past year has been:
In January I joined four other pilgrims to Lyon, France, to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of our founding bishop, Philippe Viard SM. This began the year’s pilgrimage of looking, listening and responding to the pastoral needs of the archdiocese. These celebrations continued here in early October, giving thanks at the same time for the 150 years of the Otaki church.
Archbishop's column: a year on the journey Archdiocese of Wellington At the Mass at Otaki on October 10, I reminded those present that ‘Missionary movement is always active, always about going out to others − then and today. With Jesus we can go forth from him in his power and with his grace. This is why this mission station was established so long ago, so that the people of the parish could come here and then go back to others with the good news of God’s saving redeeming love, with the power and the grace of Jesus.’
As we prepare for Christmas, please remember that ‘The purpose of being with Jesus is to go forth from him in his power and with his grace.’
The archdiocese hosted the international pastoral planners’ conference in February. This was a wonderful opportunity for many from Australia and New Zealand to share wisdom on pastoral planning and to take heed once again of the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘First of all I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness’ ( Novo Millennio Ineunte 30).
As autumn and winter set in, I marvelled once again at the vitality of Catholic education as I looked at a sea of faces at the final Mass of the O’Shea Shield in May and thought, ‘This, too, is church’.
I came away from the O’Shea Shield weekend knowing that we have some outstanding young Catholic leaders in our colleges.
Wellington hosted the National Catholic Education Convention in July with the theme, ‘Be the change’. Again I was encouraged by the faith-filled and faithful creativity, dedication and perseverance of our teachers in Catholic schools.
I have already written in this column of the invitation of Ella Risati to ‘Be the mirror of Christ’, as she and others spoke passionately of their experience of the World Youth Day pilgrimage. Being a mirror of Christ invites us to reflect his love and compassion to those we meet each day.
Recalling the theme of the conference, David Mullin called us ‘to unleash the Catholic imagination present in our education system, in our community and in our young people’. This I saw, too, in the students from our schools and colleges who came to welcome visitors, to perform, to engage fully in the convention; this Catholic imagination was clearly present in the commitment and enthusiasm of our teachers.
The church community is not turned in on itself: it looks outwards in service of those most in need either here or overseas. First-class educational materials from Caritas for Lent and Social Justice Week help us all to integrate study, prayer and action in living our baptismal commitment. This goes on day-by-day in the services offered by Catholic Social Services, St Vincent de Paul and other voluntary organisations, as well as in the generous response of so many Catholics to international emergencies in Indonesia, the Philippines, Samoa and Tonga.
Another milestone for the archdiocese was a full-day joint meeting of the three canonical bodies at the service of the archdiocese, on  August 28. The Council of Priests, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the Board of Administration met to develop a shared vision for the archdiocese, building a collaborative ministry: of men and women, of young and old; of lay, clergy and religious; in the cultural diversity that marks our archdiocese. We came away from that day committed to the ongoing development of pastoral areas and to helping people of the archdiocese to understand the deeply Catholic principle of the common good.
‘Sundays with the Bishop’ have been a special time with you in your parishes and pastoral areas − a chance to pray together, to share a teaching session and to respond to questions arising in your faith life. My thanks to those who attended and to those who helped in the organisation.
The year of St Paul ended in June – what a gift to rediscover the energy and depth of his writings, celebrated in study, prayer, song, pilgrimage and publications. For many, it was our first experience of an e-conference, streamed direct from Sydney. This was followed in November by one on St Luke − these are wonderful ways to learn together; it is my hope that we will share many more of them. Thank you to all who took part, and for the way you continue into this Year of the Priest. The icon of St John Vianney is currently on pilgrimage throughout the archdiocese: I encourage you to reflect on his life, and to pray for our priests and for vocations to the priesthood.
Many times this year I have returned to the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II at the end of the great jubilee year, 2000. His invitation echoes my thoughts as I look back on the year that has been and forward to 2010:
to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with confidence.
(NMI #1)
Thank you all for your commitment to the archdiocese. I pray that you will enjoy every blessing this Christmas so that we will all live the present with enthusiasm, and look forward to the future with confidence.