WelCom October 2023
St Bernadette’s church and school community of Naenae, Lower Hutt, celebrated their 75th jubilee year in August.
The story of St Bernadette’s began with little more than a ‘swampy paddock and an empty purse’. The first church was a chapel transported from the Trentham army camp, which doubled as a school during the week.
Our church and school community are pioneers in many ways. In 2006, the parish welcomed Barbara Rowley, as among one of the first Lay Pastoral Leaders of the Archdiocese of Wellington. Fr Patrick Greally took on a new role as priest in sacramental ministry, which he carried out until his passing in 2020.
The community has weathered many changes and challenges, which would have earned them the title of ‘water walkers’ from the Gospel reading (Mt 14:22-33) of 13 August, the day of the Jubilee celebration. Everyone came together for a multicultural Mass presided over by parish priest Fr Patrick Bridgman, followed by a celebration of bountiful kai and colourful performances from the Samoan, Filipino, Tokelauan, Sudanese and Pakeha communities, with a moving rendition and closing prayer from Fr Alfred Tong.
St Bernadette’s School celebrated its Jubilee on the feast of the Assumption, 15 August.
Today our church community reflects New Zealand’s rich cultural diversity and vibrancy. St Bernadette’s also symbolises the resilience and spirit of Kiwis from all walks of life. In this Jubilee year, our community remembers our past with gratitude, offers thanksgiving for the present, and makes the Jubilee celebration a springboard to continue our mission to be Good News to the world.
Barbara Rowley, Lay Pastoral Leader