Honouring Joan McFetridge

WelCom December 2019 Mary-Ann Greaney After 42 years of ministry Joan McFetridge retired from the Catholic Centre Wellington and the Archdiocese of Wellington earlier this year. In recognition of her…

WelCom December 2019

Mary-Ann Greaney

Cardinal John Dew presents Joan McFetridge with the scroll that accompanies her papal medal. 
Photo: Mary-Ann Greaney

After 42 years of ministry Joan McFetridge retired from the Catholic Centre Wellington and the Archdiocese of Wellington earlier this year. In recognition of her remarkable contributions and service to the Church Joan was presented with a papal award at a Mass at the Archdiocese’s Pro Cathedra, St Teresa’s Church, Karori, on Saturday 16 November. 

Joan received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for Church and Pope). The citation from the Holy See says the honour ‘is in recognition of her unwavering commitment and resolute dedication to pastoral and theological formation in the Archdiocese of Wellington and in the Church of Aotearoa New Zealand’. 

Presenting Joan with the medal, Cardinal John Dew acknowledged her faithful service. ‘Joan, you are a great role model for all of us. Thank you for all you have done and for your care for and concern for the Church,’ he said.

Joan came to the Archdiocese after serving in other parts of New Zealand for 12 years. In 1984 Joan became the Director of Catholic Education. This appointment held responsibility for parish, school and adult education. In 2002 Joan was appointed as the formator and manager of the new Launch Out formation programme. The programme was discerned during the 1998 Archdiocese Synod and developed to form lay people for parish, chaplaincy, diocesan, and other leadership roles.

A major achievement – and indeed a debt the Archdiocese owes Joan for her vision and commitment – was Joan’s having the then Wellington Catholic Education Centre (WCEC) recognised as a tertiary education provider and gaining NZQA accreditation for the certificate and diploma courses. 

The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand grew from Joan’s earlier leadership in the Catholic Education Centre and as the director of WCEC. The many of us who have worked with Joan recognise that all the qualifications currently offered by TCI are part of her legacy. 

One of Joan’s often quoted sayings is, ‘We are ordinary people blessed with the extraordinary gift of redemption, empowered by an extraordinary Spirit who calls us to follow Jesus. We are ordinary people charged with the extraordinary mission of building the Kingdom of God’.

Joan has embraced the extraordinary gifts she has been given by a loving God and as a missionary disciple has used them generously. We pray for Joan as she sets out on her next adventure. 

Mary-Ann Greaney is the Director, Parish Leadership Ministry, Catholic Centre, Archdiocese of Wellington. The Parish Leadership Ministry is ‘the home’ for Launch Out.

At her retirement Mass and celebrations held among family, friends and colleagues at St Joseph’s Church, Mt Victoria, on Saturday 4 May this year, Joan McFetridge recalled highlights of her journey with the Archdiocese.

‘I came to Wellington as a response to an invitation, a call – as did most of my colleagues. We knew we were in something bigger than ourselves and because of that, we created change for the better. I spent 18 years as the Director of the Catholic Education Centre and 17 years in Launch Out. In both ministries I was gifted to work alongside generous, hardworking, fun loving, intelligent good people.

I came into Launch Out (into the deep) in 2002. It was a new ministry in the Archdiocese following the 1998 Synod and it was at the cutting edge of change. My instructions from Cardinal Tom Williams were to create an integrated formation programme that included prayer, academic learning and pastoral practice. It was to be a place where potential pastoral leaders could be formed and transformed, as lay men and lay women to work in collaboration with priests of the Archdiocese. It offered a response to the Baptismal call to service in the development of our faith community.

Cardinal John Dew was the first person to pick up Launch Out after that Synod and he has been hugely supportive of this programme to form lay people for leadership. His one-line advice to all Launch Out graduates is ‘Be kind’. 

Cardinal John said, Launch Out has been and is successful. We have a very good thing going and we owe a debt of gratitude to Joan – and to Cardinal Tom for his vision and commitment to establishing this and firmly setting the Archdiocese on a path where Collaborative Ministry is central.

‘Joan, thank you for the way you have embodied the Gospel for all of us.’