WelCom March 2023
‘As we move forward to a changed St Francis of Assisi Ohariu Parish it is my hope, we take our St Andrew’s spirit with us. That each and every one of us will join with our fellow parishioners from St Benedict’s and Ss Peter’s and Paul’s as a vibrant, culturally-diverse, faith-sharing, and prayerful congregation. That by working together we will continue to form and grow a strong community, committed to the Gospel teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,’ Anna Mika-Hunt Walsh said at the closing of St Andrew’s Church on Saturday 11 February 2023.
The following week on 19 February, with considerable celebration, the Catholic Parish of St Francis of Assisi Ohariu reopened its now centralised parish church at 37 Doctor Taylor Tce, Johnsonville, Wellington.
The interior of the church is significantly changed – the altar, pews and lectern come from St Benedict’s Church, Khandallah; the tabernacle and cross from St Andrew’s Church, Newlands; some of the pews have been replaced by individual seats; the stations of the cross are retained; the altar rostrum has been removed and the altar is now on the same level as the seating; the altar and the lectern face each other from opposite ends of the central aisle. A banner depicting St Francis of Assisi hangs against the now white wall behind the altar.
Initially seating is ‘in choir’ – facing across the church. New AV has been installed with large screens visible from all parts of the church, including the overflow space in the hall. A children’s space has been created in the hall area. Books and colouring in materials are provided.
While the closing of a community church is soul wrenching in its sadness, the refurbishment of the parish church and the way it includes items from all three churches, and the energy with which this has been done by all involved, reflects the huge amount of hope and aspiration as the three northern Wellington suburbs’ church communities combine into one.
The reopening was celebrated with a community meal, the central feature of which was pig on a spit!
We move forward in courage as a people filled with hope and trust in the Lord.
Joe Green is a Lay Pastoral Leader and Parish Director of Mission, Catholic Parish of St Francis of Assisi.