Archbishop John Dew
2 October 2012
It is almost 10 years since Cardinal Tom Williams and I began the archdiocesan wide consultation process that resulted in the setting up of pastoral areas for the Archdiocese of Wellington on October 1, 2003.
Since then we have built up ‘a church of communion’ of parish communities working together within their pastoral areas in the provision of sacramental, educational, pastoral and social services. We have learned that a spirituality of communion means to know how to make room for our brothers and sisters, ‘bearing each other’s burdens’ and resisting the temptation to be closed in on ourselves and our own needs (cf NMI 43).
Some of the practical things we have done together have been pastoral area Masses on special occasions, working together in sacramental preparation and provision of RCIA, sports or fun days of Catholic schools within a pastoral area, adult education programmes, ecumenical prayer with other Christian churches, collaborative social services especially through St Vincent de Paul Society.
The 2006 Synod renewed our focus on being an archdiocesan family, celebrating God in our lives, sharing our living faith, growing in community ministry and leadership, working together for justice and peace. The adoption of stewardship as a way of life has helped us see all life as a gift, and to commit ourselves to intentional discipleship and friendship with Jesus as we know him in the scriptures. We discover these gifts and share them with others.
A major change has taken place in parish leadership with the appointment of seven lay pastoral leaders, who prepared for this ministry in the Launch Out programme. Other graduates have taken up positions in ethnic, hospital and prison chaplaincies.
There have also been major demographic changes in the archdiocese with a greater cultural diversity, population shifts with an ageing population in some areas and growth in others.
Pressure on financial and property resources, some of it related to Christchurch earthquake recovery and tightening of government building standards, has meant we also need to examine closely how we prioritise those resources.
All of these changes in church and society point to a need for a revision of pastoral area boundaries. Over the past four months several parishes and pastoral areas in the greater Wellington region have engaged in a consultation process about how best they can share resources and the services they offer their parishioners and the wider community. There has been widespread recognition of the need to change pastoral area boundaries.
Over the next few months these new pastoral areas will choose their new pastoral area teams.
Change is always difficult, but we can make something positive of it as well. Perhaps we can see it as a gift for The Year of Faith which starts this month. We can see it as an opportunity for The New Evangelisation – of rediscovering the gift of faith and the joyful enthusiasm to share this gift with others.
New pastoral areas from September 23, 2012:
- Wellington Central: Cathedral, St Mary of the Angels, Wilton, Karori
- Wellington South: Brooklyn, Mt Victoria, Newtown, Island Bay
- Kapiti-Horowhenua: Otaki, Levin, Waikanae, Paraparaumu.