Prison and hospital chaplains commissioned in Wellington Archdiocese

WelCom November 2020 Karen Holland and Vivien Chiu, Catholic Social Services ‘I was sick and in prison and you came to visit me.’ Last month Cardinal John Dew commissioned two…

WelCom November 2020

Karen Holland and Vivien Chiu, Catholic Social Services

‘I was sick and in prison and you came to visit me.’

Prison and hospital chaplains commissioned in Wellington Archdiocese Archdiocese of Wellington
Fr Joy Raphel, Te Awakairangi parish; Alison Robinson, chaplain Rimutaka Prison; Falefaou Sio; Cardinal John Dew; Sr Veronica Casey, senior Catholic prison chaplain; Christoph Zintl, chaplain Rimutaka Prison; Tivese Otutoa, chaplain Auckland Women’s Prison; Rev John Axcell, chief executive Prison Chaplaincy Service, Aotearoa New Zealand; Mary Boyle, assistant chaplain Rimutaka Prison; Judy Dixon, assistant chaplain. Photo: Mary-Ann Greaney

Last month Cardinal John Dew commissioned two chaplains from the Archdiocese of Wellington. 

At Sunday Mass on October 4, at St Michael’s Church, Taita, Falelou Sio was commissioned as Catholic chaplain to the men and women in Rimutaka and Arohata prisons. 

At an ecumenical service at Wellington Hospital Chapel on October 14, Kate Sanders O’Connor was commissioned as a Catholic hospital chaplain; and Bishop Eleanor Sanderson commissioned Rev Mary Minson as ecumenical hospital chaplain.

Cardinal John said at Falefou’s commissioning we are God’s vineyard and that God plants the vineyard. ‘Prisons too are a part of God’s vineyard. We do not know what has happened in the lives of men and women who are sentenced to a term in prison but they too deserve having people such as our chaplains who help them, journey with them and assist them to make changes in their lives.’

Falefou paid tribute to his parents. ‘When I received the cross from Cardinal John I remembered the dreams of my deceased parents – “to serve the church”. 

‘My role as prison chaplain is a job, a mission that requires enormous sacrifices and a lot of time to dedicate and divide among those who have an overabundance of time: to talk with the prisoners, to share the penalty with them. I always meet my brothers and sisters – to whom I have a duty – to introduce myself with an attitude of service. I am worth what I love.’

Prison and hospital chaplains commissioned in Wellington Archdiocese Archdiocese of Wellington
Rev Mary Minson, Bishop Eleanor Sanderson, Cardinal John Dew,
Kate Sanders O’Connor. Photo: Vivien Chiu

Cardinal John invited the community to remember Falefou and all our prison chaplains. ‘They minister to people who are like us, people who make mistakes, who slip up in their lives, and sometimes make very big messes of their lives. But they too deserve the mercy and compassion of our God. Remember the words of Jesus: ‘I was sick and in prison and you came to visit me.’

Joining Kate at her commissioning were family members, colleagues, Archdiocese of Wellington directors, Interchurch Council of Hospital Chaplains (ICHC) officials, and Wellington Hospital management staff. 

Mary and Kate promised to declare the Good News of God’s love and provide pastoral and spiritual support to the patients, staff and whānau at the hospital. Each was presented with a cross, a pyx (small, round Eucharist container) and a candle as symbols of their ministry. Norman Gray, Wellington Hospital Operations Manager presented them with their IDs and badges of office. ICHC Regional Manager Rev Joe Gray presented Mary with a Bible and New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference senior Catholic chaplain Tony Lenton presented Kate with her Bible. 

Their service concluded with the ecumenical Christian prayer from Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti. ‘Come, Holy Spirit, show us your beauty, reflected in all the peoples of the earth, so that we may discover anew that all are important and all are necessary, different faces of the one humanity that God so loves. Amen.’

Cardinal John quoted Pope Francis’ reaffirmation of the Church’s commitment to ecumenism, to encourage cooperation with the member churches and with our ecumenical partners. The spirit of collaboration between organisations involved in hospital chaplaincy was evident.

We congratulate both Falefou Sio and Kate Sanders O’Connor on their appointments as chaplains to some of our most vulnerable people. We offer our prayers, support and encouragement in their ministries.