Parishioners in the Wellington West Pastoral Area will be informed of decisions about the future of the area’s three parishes with the departure from Karori of Fr Tom O’Brien on 1 July.
This is the essence of the changes.
Archbishop John Dew announced changes to the pastoral responsibilities of the three priests in the Wellington West Pastoral Area in April. These changes assumed the appointment of a trained, qualified lay pastoral leader who would have prime responsibility for the St Thomas More Parish, Northland.
This appointment has been deferred until early next year and Archbishop John has now reviewed the pastoral responsibilities to ensure that parishioners of the three parishes receive ongoing, equitable and adequate sacramental and spiritual care.
From 1 July
Father Maurice Carmody remains parish priest of the Cathedral Parish.
Father Peter O’Connell has been appointed parish priest of Karori Parish (currently he is parish priest of Northland Parish).
Father Seph Pijfers has been appointed administrator of Northland Parish (currently he is assistant priest at the Cathedral Parish). Additionally Father Seph will provide sacramental and spiritual care and support in the Cathedral and Karori parishes.
With the departure of parish priest, Father Tom O’Brien, from Karori on 1 July, the three parishes in the pastoral area will be served by three priests (a reduction of one). This has necessitated a review of weekend Masses in the pastoral area.
The Wellington West Pastoral Area Council has had detailed and lengthy discussions as to how parishioners of the three parishes could best be served by reduced priestly resources.
In a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, the pastoral area council has recommended that there be one less weekend Mass in each of the three parishes. This recommendation was endorsed by the three parish councils and then by the archbishop.
In addition to the closure of St Brigids, Wadestown, from 8 July, the following Masses will be discontinued: Cathedral 8.00am, Karori 6.00pm vigil, Northland 5.30pm vigil.
The last 8.00am Mass at the cathedral will be on Sunday, 24 June, and the last vigil Masses at Karori and Northland will be on Saturday, 23 June.
The 10.30am Mass at the cathedral changes to 10.00am from Sunday, 1 July.
Some parishioners will be inconvenienced by these changes and you are asked to accept them in a spirit of understanding and charity as we move into a new erain the life of the Church.
The PAC recognises that losing the vigil Masses in Karori and Northland will inconvenience regular attendees in these parishes. However, St Teresa’s is fortunate to be able to continue to offer three Sunday Masses. We acknowledge and are grateful for the continued support of Father Bernie Hehir for the parish’s sacramental and spiritual care.
We welcome Father Seph’s appointment as administrator in Northland. However, due to his other commitments within the pastoral area, it will be necessary to discontinue weekday Masses.
We realise that this will be an especially difficult time for the St Brigid’s community whose final Mass is on Sunday, 8 July. Fathers Maurice and Seph, with the total support of the parish council and the liturgy committee, are working to ensure the transition is achieved in a loving, welcoming and charitable way.
Families who choose to attend the choral sung 10.00am Mass (note the earlier starting time) at the cathedral will be most welcome and a special children’s liturgy will be provided each Sunday. Parents and other interested volunteers will be especially encouraged to contribute to this most important part of the Mass. We also plan to celebrate a family Mass on Sundays when the choir is in recess.
The regular attendees at our 8.00am Sunday Mass are also in our thoughts and we trust that the transition to the reduced number of Sunday Masses at the cathedral will not be too burdensome.
The key thought, looking ahead, is the unique opportunity being offered the laity to use their gifts to help compensate for the declining number of priests.
A key objective for the pastoral area continues to be the appointment of a lay pastoral leader. The archdiocese will again be advertising this position toward the end of 2007 with the expectation of an appointment early in 2008.
Finally, we caution parishioners that these arrangements may be subject to further change. As you are aware the Wellington Archdiocese announces clergy changes early in the New Year.
With the declining number of priests it is expected that there will be a further reduction of priests in the Wellington West Pastoral Area from three to two in 2008. Such an eventuality would result in a further review of the pastoral area structure and Mass times.