‘Here I Am, Lord’ sang the congregation with a spirit of expectation, challenge, promise and purpose as the archdiocese’ second lay pastoral leader, Barbara Rowley, and Archbishop John Dew processed in St Bernadette’s, Naenae, for her installation on 1 October.
Barbara was accompanied by her husband and two of her sons. Frs Patrick Greally, Petelo Mauga, Jim Kershaw, Sunil Paul and Msgr John Broadbent joined Archbishop John to concelebrate this joyous mass.
Representatives from all the parishes in the pastoral area, the Pastoral Area Council, Launch Out colleagues, lecturers from the Wellington Catholic Education Centre, members from the Third Order of Carmel, and archdiocesan personnel joined parishioners from Naenae and Taita.
The chairperson of the Naenae Parish Council, Tony Lawson, welcomed the 300-strong congregation. He reminded them that the Naenae and Taita parishes are at the cutting edge of the new way of being parish, that they are fortunate to be gifted with this new style of collaborative ministry.
The Samoans processed in to enthrone the lectionary making an inspiring and prayerful contribution to the liturgy. At the offertory the Tokelauan community brought the offertory gifts to the dramatic beat and song of the paddle dance.
In a beautiful ceremony of installation Archbishop John charged Barbara Rowley with the pastoral care and administration of the parish of Naenae. The archbishop asked Barbara if she was ready and willing to give herself to the service of the church as a lay pastoral leader; if she would serve the people in the manner of Jesus, and give her time and energy to building up the faith community. To all these questions Barbara replied, yes. Meanwhile the two parishes and all of those attending undertook to pray for and support her.
As a symbol of her commitment Barbara accepted a cross to wear around her neck as she serves the people of the parish. The cross, she was reminded, is at the heart of all ministry, and represents victory over suffering and death. Archbishop John urged her to love as Jesus loved, serve as Jesus served, listen as Jesus listened and lead as Jesus led.
The ceremony also formally endorsed the establishment of the pastoral team to be formed by the two parishes within the pastoral area of Lower Hutt. We were told that these two parishes are to be a sign to the rest of the Archdiocese of Wellington of a new and vital ministry in the service of the church.
Barbara Rowley, with Frs Petelo Mauga and Pat Greally will form the two parishes’ pastoral team. Archbishop John charged Barbara with the prime responsibility of pastoring St Bernadette’s. She will have a secondary responsibility to St Michael’s as the other parish in this grouping.
Fr Petelo Mauga has the prime responsibility for St Michael’s and a secondary responsibility for St Bernadette’s. Fr Pat Greally, until recently the parish priest of St Bernadette’s, will be the priest in sacramental ministry for both parishes, as needed.
In his homily, Archbishop John, drew from the image of the hymn, ‘Circle of Mercy’. He said that Barbara is formally being drawn into the circle of leadership in the parish – that she and the priests will work together to bring others into the circle of God’s love, into the circle of the church’s life and mission. He reminded us that in his letter at the beginning of the synod document he called for increased lay responsibility, not just for Barbara but for everyone.
This new mode of collaboration between priests and lay pastoral leaders is a great sign of hope for our church. In the words of Archbishop John: ‘We thank God for Barbara who has courageously undertaken to embrace the beauty and challenge of collaborative ministry in a new way. We look forward with renewed energy, new vision, deep prayer and joyful celebration of God’s great and giving love and collaboration among all members of the pastoral area.’
During this time of change, challenge and opportunity let us pray for each other, that we will have the grace to hear God’s call and respond with generosity to where the Holy Spirit is leading us.