WelCom November 2020
‘We are branches in the vine that is Christ.
Working together we enhance the gift of creation.’
As New Zealand’s largest wine growing area, Marlborough provides a marvellous background for a homily unwrapping the scripture image of the People of God as the Vineyard of the Lord.
I was in Our Lady of the Sea Parish, in Blenheim early October, promoting the restoration of our Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Sunday readings made the task very easy.
Isaiah, chapter five, Psalm 79 and Matthew 21 told of the importance of respecting the gifts of God. Neglect or misuse can have disastrous consequences.
The theme invited reflection on the co-operative nature of wine making and the importance of working with one another for the good of everyone.
I described the Archdiocese of Wellington as a large vineyard, first planted in 1850, centred on the cathedral as the principal church. Branches and grapes grew from this centre as parishes were established, and today cover from Masterton and Levin in the North to Westport and Kaikōura in the South.
Many parishes of the Archdiocese of Wellington are located far from the cathedral in Wellington city. This is particularly so for those in the South Island section of the Archdiocese, leading parishioners to feel the restoration of the cathedral has little to do with them.
I asked them to join me in seeing ourselves as part of the one body of Christ. Like grapes on the vine, we are individuals but not independent of one another.
Parish Priest, Fr Pat McIndoe, prepared the people for my visit to Blenheim by recalling an episode from the parish history. In 1889, Suzanne Aubert had visited the parish seeking funds to rebuild the church for her sisters and the Māori people at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River. Our support for one another flows from our sense of unity, regardless of the distance between us.
It was important to face the question of how to justify preserving a building when we and the world are coping with the hardship and uncertainty of Covid-19. The question is answered with the Government grant of $8.5 million, telling us that not only our heritage status but the social, cultural and spiritual values we stand for are worth the cost and effort of restoration.