Archbishop’s column: Zaccheaus shows leaders the way

Archbishop John Dew2011  It looked a bit like the traditional childhood ‘alphabet soup’: ADW – APC – BOA – COP – ABC! The abbreviations poured out of the data projector,…

Archbishop John Dew

Archbishop's column: Zaccheaus shows leaders the way Archdiocese of WellingtonIt looked a bit like the traditional childhood ‘alphabet soup’: ADW – APC – BOA – COP – ABC! The abbreviations poured out of the data projector, danced onto the screen and we were kept guessing.

The ‘ABC’ is the annual meeting of three major groups that serve the Archdiocese of Wellington (ADW): the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC). The Board of Administration (BOA) and the Council of Priests (COP), these are the consultative, advisory bodies a diocese is required to have to advise the bishop of the diocese. The Archdiocese of Wellington is wonderfully served by generous people who give of their time and expertise. I am very grateful to them for their work and their generous stewardship of archdiocesan life.

This year’s ABC gathering was in Connolly Hall on Friday July 29. It was an opportunity to review the past year and see where we had worked together as a Church of ‘communio’. Collaborative ministry is the dream we work towards so we heard a little more of each group and how they contribute to the life of the archdiocese. This helps the Church to be the living gospel that can bring hope and change. At the start of the day I led a reflection on Zacchaeus whom I believe can be our model [Lk 19]. He climbed the tree because he wanted to see Jesus. Can we put ourselves out in order to see Jesus in the people we meet daily? Are we also able to look around and ask the questions – ‘who and where is Zacchaeus today?’ ‘Who are those searching for God?’

A major part of the day was deepening our understanding of stewardship and how our lives and ministry can be different if we enter deeply into this vision of Christian life. Fr Ron Rolheiser sums it up when he says, ‘The abundance of God is an invitation to generosity … and that’s the invitation … to have a sense of God’s abundance so as to risk always a bigger heart and generosity beyond the fear that, because things seem scarce, we need to be more calculating’.

As we look around the archdiocese, we can be tempted ‘to be more calculating’. We seem to be desperately short of personal and financial resources; we seem to be struggling uphill against values and practices that undermine the gospel message we are called to proclaim. Yet God invites us through this to a deeper generosity of heart, of mind and of the gifts we can place at the service of others.

In the afternoon a panel of parishioners from the Hutt Valley Pastoral Area with a lay pastoral leader, a priest, a school principal and a recent arrival in New Zealand presented something of the challenges they are currently facing in their lives and ministry. These ranged through social issues such as employment, housing and education, especially in low decile areas; cross-cultural relations, language and leadership; hospitality (and in some cases the lack of it) to new migrants and former refugees. Everyone appreciated their sharings which gave all members of the ABC challenges as to how we as Church respond to the above issues.

There is a stewardship challenge to all of us here, and together we looked at practical responses – through listening to the story of the other, discerning gifts in the community, acting for the common good across parish and pastoral areas through the sharing of financial resources, setting up structures of assistance, eg St Vincent de Paul Society in areas of need.

This we can only do together … we are all in the ‘alphabet soup’.
‘The abundance of God is an invitation to generosity.’