Bishop Charles Drennan
Maori have a term te wa which means the right time.
On the vigil of Pentecost, in a cathedral overflowing with Catholic Maori and guests, an experience of te wa was celebrated in a momentous Mass, during which Danny Karatea-Goddard was ordained a permanent deacon for the Palmerston North diocese.
Over 600 people gathered in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. They came from Wairoa and Ohakune, te awa o Whanganui, all the marae of the Rangitikei, Manawatu and Tararua, and from the local and Maori boarding colleges.
Charged with solemnity yet abounding with joy, the cathedral resounded with song, chant, karanga, Maori hymns, Veni Creator Spiritus, and psalm settings and a Mass setting written for the day.
A particularly moving part of the liturgy, presided by Bishop Charles Drennan in te reo Maori, was the presentation of Danny as the candidate.
Usually, this is the moment when the seminary Rector (or someone going on to priesthood) states before the Bishop that having enquired among the people of God the individual has been found worthy of sacred service.
At Danny’s ordination this moment was recorded in an entirely different way.
Through a haunting karanga, elders and aunties testified to Bishop Charles that having watched, having listened, having observed, having enquired among the iwi whakapono, they were now ready to testify Danny had been found worthy to serve.
Bishop Charles acknowledged their koha of Danny with a hongi of deep appreciation, and said:
‘you are indeed truly worthy because the Lord wants this of you and he has spoken through your people’.
In his homily, Bishop Charles assured Maru, Danny’s wife, and their tamariki and mokopuna, that ‘in God’s vision for humanity there is no such thing as competing vocations; love is not apportioned. Danny’s primary vocation,’ he explained, ‘remains the vocation of marriage.
‘His service as a deacon will come through his vocation as a husband and father. The strength of his ministry as a deacon will be a reflection of your aroha as a married couple and family.’
Bishop Charles went on to say: ‘I was delighted yet not surprised to learn that as a Maori couple, part of your preparation for this day was a pilgrimage in which family and faith were again woven together, as you visited relatives and the sacred ground of your tupuna o te whakapono.’
The Bishop concluded that ‘drawing on the spirit of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith is a wonderful way to walk courageously into the future’.
Once the newly ordained Reverand Danny was vested, and the sign of peace had been exchanged with a solemn hongi, Bishop Charles presented Danny to the congregation.
A spontaneous outburst of a haka filled the aisles as men, young and elderly alike, raised their hearts to heaven in a spine-tingling recognition of the wonders of God’s grace.