Parishioners at St Joseph’s Church, Dannevirke, were joined on Sunday 8 February 2015 by fellow Tararua parishioners from Brigid’s Pahiatua, St Columbkille’s Woodville, Sacred Heart Eketahuna, and St Joseph’s and St Anthony’s school representatives, for the ordination to the Diaconate of Bryan Buenger.
Bryan, who previously worked as a secondary school teacher and international flight attendant, came from his homeland in the USA to New Zealand in July 2005 with a strong sense this country was where he needed to be.
After a period of discernment in Gilbert, Arizona, where he studied theology, assisted in pastoral work at St Anne’s Church, and worked with the youth group and the Life Teen programme, Bryan contacted the bishops of New Zealand about entering the seminary here. Bishop Charles Drennan invited him to join Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland. There, Bryan completed a BA in theology and has since had pastoral placements in Hawera, Inglewood, Waitara, North Taranaki, and recently in Tararua parishes, under the guidance of Fr Brian Walsh, Parish Priest and Vicar General of the Diocese.
Bishop Charles presided at Bryan’s ordination ceremony. Parishioners, bishops, priests, and fellow seminarians joined as a community in prayerful worship and blessings for his ministry.
Concelebrating were Bishop Emeritus Peter Cullinane, Bishop Owen Dolan, Fr Brian Walsh of Pahiatua, Seminary Rector Fr Brendan Ward, Seminary Spiritual Director Fr Alan Roberts, Fr Peter Brockhill of Marton, and Fr Jeremy Palman of Auckland. Recently ordained Deacons Danny Karatea-Goddard of Palmerston North and Nathaniel Brazil of Hastings served.
The first reading from the Book of Job was in Aramaic ‒ the language Jesus spoke ‒ by Fadi Bowles of the Seminarian Chaldean Rite, with an English translation on screen.
During his homily Bishop Charles referred to the first reading about Job and his trials. It was a lesson for all that no matter what might befall us we should never lose faith and trust in God. Bishop Charles referred to St Paul’s ministry in the second reading from 1 Thessalonians, and emphasised its collaborative nature as a model for all ministries.
St Joseph’s guitar group led the music. Auckland seminarians Tony King Archer sang a Psalm, and Rewi Peni a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria.
After Mass parishioners congratulated Bryan over refreshments in St Joseph’s Hall and a stirring encore by Rewi Peni.
Bryan is to be ordained to the priesthood at Palmerston North’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on 4 July 2015 ‒ America’s Independence Day.
Jim Vercoe is a parishioner of St Joseph’s, Dannevirke.