12 August 2008
On the first Pentecost, Jesus said, ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you’, to his apostles in a closed room. On May 10, 2008, he said these words again, through the gospel, to the parish of St Peter Chanel, Motueka.
That evening Archbishop John Dew blessed all the people in ministries within the parish. As parish pastoral council chair Malcolm Garrett read the titles of each group ministering within the parish, its members were asked to stand and remain standing, until nearly all the congregation was on their feet.
Then the remaining people were asked to stand as individuals who minister in their everyday lives, by their actions and example, to the people around them.
This was the culmination of a special day which had included a meeting between the archbishop, the parish council and the finance committee, workshops led by Archbishop John (to develop ministries to young parents, children and youth) and by Lorraine McArthur (to develop ministry to people dealing with loss) and socialising over afternoon tea before the special blessing of the Pentecost Mass.
Archbishop John’s homily on the gift of the Holy Spirit and his blessing on those in ministry for the parish, was a step in a process that has been developing over several months, since it became evident that when Father Pat Maloney retired in February, 2008, there would be neither a parish priest nor a lay pastoral leader to replace him.
What happens in this situation? ‘We’re in new territory,’ was the most commonly voiced thought as the Archdiocese of Wellington and the parishioners of St Peter Chanel began to work their way through questions, prayer and discussion to arrive at a unique model of ‘being church’, which will serve until the parish joins in the wider pastoral area of Nelson.
What does this model look like? ‘Inside the role of lay pastoral leader’ in the March 2008 issue of Wel-com outlined the many things that need to be taken care of within a parish. In a parish with a lay pastoral leader (or with a parish priest), this person works alongside liturgy committees to encourage active participation, discernment of gifts, careful planning of Eucharistic and other liturgies, and has the responsibility for ensuring these take place.
In the current situation of St Peter Chanel parish, a group of people fulfill all these roles—a priest in sacramental ministry (their recently ‘retired’ priest Fr Pat Maloney) still provides opportunities for sacraments, a priest with canonical responsibility (Fr Edmund Little, parish priest in Takaka, a drive of an hour and a half over the Takaka Hill) has the responsibility for the parish, but the actual day-to-day work of ministering in the parish is being done by parishioners who are coordinated by the parish pastoral council.
The council and the priest with canonical responsibility work together to ensure liturgies take place and that they are within canonical guidelines, and they also work with the parish finance committee to fund parish ministries with supplies and resources. The priest in sacramental ministry is an integral part of the liturgy ministry, providing Sunday Mass and other sacraments. The parish secretary, Greta Harris, fields questions and directs people with needs to those who minister.
With the blessing of Pentecost Mass and with the Holy Spirit in its heart, the parish of St Peter Chanel, Motueka, laity and priests together, reflect the opening prayer of Pentecost Sunday —‘Let the spirit you sent on your church to begin the teaching of the gospel, continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe.’