WelCom September 2023
It was a while in the planning… and Sunday 20 August 2023 was the day the two Catholic parishes in the Buller District reformed into one combined parish.
That weekend, Archbishop Paul Martin sm of the Archdiocese of Wellington was in Westport to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation to a group of pupils from St Canice’s School. At the end of the ceremony two members of the former parish councils of St Canice in Westport and Sacred Heart in Reefton, Julie Hands and Bernadette Snowden, were on hand to receive a decree from Archbishop Martin. It stated the two parishes would merge to become the ‘Catholic Parish of Buller and Inangahua’.
It was also decreed the churches of St Canice, Sacred Heart, Holy Family in Karamea, St Peter Chanel in Murchison and St Patrick in Ikamatua, will retain their individual names. A new finance committee will be formed from representatives from both districts.
Up until the early 1970s the two parishes had an ample supply of resident priests administering to their parishes as well as a convent in the main towns of Westport and Reefton, which were served by the Sisters of Mercy. However, as the years passed by vocations to the priesthood and religious life began to dwindle, which left only one priest in both towns. As well as this, several parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Wellington were amalgamating to form somewhat larger parishes and it was on the cards that Reefton and Westport would follow suit.
The last remaining priest in Reefton left at the beginning of 2022 and was unable to be replaced. At present Fr Dave Cruschow – the parish priest of the new Catholic Parish of Buller and Inangahua – has a large area to administer to his flock and has to adjust the times of Saturday/Sunday Masses throughout the district for more realistic coverage.
The final words from our parish priest are, ‘Goodwill, understanding and the knowledge we are together called to build up God’s kingdom in the Buller and Inangahua districts will help immensely in our great understanding of our faith’.
Tony Fortune is a parishioner of the Catholic Parish of Buller and Inangahua’ and he lives in Reefton. Tony has served on the Sacred Heart Parish Council since 1976 and was chairman for over 40 years.