Sr Judith McGinley and Cecily McNeill
5 April, 2013
Dominican Fr David Kammler reiterated Pope Benedict’s call for lay people to be seen as truly co-responsible for ‘the being and acting’ of the Church when he spoke in Connolly Hall at the beginning of March.
He said lay people should not just be collaborators with the clergy but fully functioning members with their role as ‘lay’ being as important a vocation as that of ordained priesthood.
He used the image of a mosaic to show that, in terms of co-responsibility, each person represents a tiny stone in the mosaic which contributes to the whole.
In his role in the Dominican Family of encourager and promoter of the life and mission of Dominican Laity, Fr David visits communities around the world carrying stories of compassion, hope and inspiration from one to another.
While he was in Aotearoa last month, the Dominican sisters of Johnsonville wanted David to experience a taste of life in two precious lay communities – L’Arche and Challenge 2000. They hoped he in his turn would be blessed with joy and life of laity in New Zealand.
On Thursday 7 March David enjoyed lunch with the L’Arche community in Paraparaumu and with Sherrie and Te Mauri. He was refreshed by the warmth of acceptance and welcome, hospitality given, delicious food and love shared – mostly by gesture and smile.
Later that afternoon, along with Fr Eddie Condra’s brother, Gerard and his nephew, Mike, David was welcomed to Challenge 2000 with a powhiri. He instinctively took off his shoes as he responded to the karanga and walked slowly through the gate. He listened intently to the traditional words of respect and welcome spoken in Māori by Apitit Maihi and then translated for him.
He grasped the meaning of the presence of ancestors and the import of earth, sky, mountain and river. He was deeply moved to experience waiata and the sharing of breath and life in the hongi.
In the meeting room at Challenge he gazed at the Māori carving, tukutuku panel, tapa cloth and fine mat, and Celtic cross on which are carved the names of all those who have given time, love and energy to the life of Challenge 2000.
Each aspect of the work of Challenge was explained by one of the young workers and gap students.
David knelt in the centre of the circle as a piece of pounamu was hung around his neck, a blessing given and Mo Maria sung. He received this taonga with reverence. Once the formalities were over, everyone gathered on the lawn for BBQ sausage, bread and tomato sauce. It was a day of great joy.
Two things which David mentioned in his reply at the powhiri were the importance of us all being connected with our own language, culture and traditions and honouring these in times of prayer and gathering.
He affirmed the Māori tradition of honouring earth, sky, mountain and river on all formal occasions and spoke strongly of our responsibility in these times to fiercely protect these gifts. He likened walking on the grass with bare feet to being willing to confront real life without shoes – a telling image.
After listening to the young people explain their work and commitment David mused, ‘We are pixels – small parts of a picture, together making the whole – the reign of God among and within us. Each has a place.’