Stewardship and family

December 2014 Opinion Michael Noonan Some pictures of the birth of Jesus have those who are portrayed by the artist prayerfully and attentively gazing at the Christ Child. Others paint…

Stewardship and family Archdiocese of WellingtonDecember 2014


Michael Noonan

Some pictures of the birth of Jesus have those who are portrayed by the artist prayerfully and attentively gazing at the Christ Child. Others paint Jesus in the arms of Mary. A few – perhaps too few – allow his dad that privilege.

However artists may portray the Nativity, the picture on the bigger canvas is clear: God is appealing to us through this birth and all births, to be appreciative, gentler, and a more loving humanity.

It is wonderful to be present to a family lovingly in awe of their newborn baby. The sense of hope and wonderment is tangible, faces become gentler and softer and often voices are hushed as each family member and friend in turn seeks to hold and to marvel. It is a time when people can be deeply themselves, let down their guard and allow their tenderness to shine through.

The weakness and vulnerability of a baby can call from us all that is best in our humanity – the desire to admire, nurture, protect, and to help the little one on his or her journey through life.

I’m struck by how the response of open-hearted welcome towards a newborn child and the stewardship response of discipleship involve the same part of ourselves. It incorporates a conversion of heart, a turning towards being changed by God. The word ‘conversion’ has always carried a sense of turning. There is a moment in the journey of the Prodigal Son, when he ‘returns to his senses’ and sets off on his journey back to his father’s house.

That notion of returning to one’s senses – becoming more truly who we are – is fundamental in prayer and, therefore, in stewardship. So, also, is the openness to gift – receiving and giving. When you look at the tender interactions of a father and mother with their baby, you see that openness. It’s the miracle of weakness – when it touches our heart, it can lead us to God and the goodness within. Stewardship within the context of family involves allowing all that is best in us to be fostered by our children and then, in turn, providing the framework where all that is most beautiful in our children can shine in our world.

In a remarkable way Jesus’ birth shows us parents who have eyes to see and ears to hear can, if we allow it, be evangelised by our children. The tragic side of that story is open, undefended hearts are terribly vulnerable and if betrayed, hurt or frustrated, can arm themselves with harshness and violence. When that happens, when we’ve lost it, we are out of our minds and often out of our senses.

Pope Francis wants to see us transforming our families and our Church. This Christmas, it is a good time to notice the relationships that return us to our senses and put us in touch with the ‘revolution of tenderness’.

It’s a revolution that can only happen in those depths of our hearts we allow to be touched and warmed.

Reimagining the Archdiocese:
A Future Full of Hope
Archbishop John Dew

Just over a year ago – after a long period of consultation with all the parishes – I promulgated the document announcing some parishes would be merging to form new parishes. Six new parishes will come into being on 1 February 2015 and another group on 1 February 2016.
This year has been a time of further consultation, a time for parishes to reflect together, to pray together about what it means to be a parish, and to know the parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory. It’s an environment for hearing God’s Word, for growth in the Christian church, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all these activities the parish encourages, educates and trains its members to be evangelisers.
Pope Francis has described the parish as: ‘a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach’.
I have been deeply impressed with the amount of consultation, reflection and energy all those parish groupings have invested to express a vision and a new name that says something about their parish. I am also impressed with the groups for providing me an Implementation Plan that outlines how they are going about setting up their new parish and what they will be doing in the first few months of its existence.
After my consultation with the Council of Priests, who have agreed to the establishment of these new parishes, it is a great privilege now to be able to announce the following with effect from 1 February 2015.
The three parishes of the Wairarapa – St Patrick’s, Masterton, St Mary’s, Carterton, and St Teresa’s, Featherston – will become one parish with the name of The Catholic Parish of Wairarapa.
In the same way, Our Lady of Grace, Heretaunga, and St Francis Xavier, Stokes Valley, will become one new parish with the name of The Parish of Our Lady of the Valleys.
The parishes of St Michael’s, Taita; St Bernadette’s, Naenae; St Martin de Porres, Avalon; and St Peter and Paul’s, Lower Hutt; also become a new parish with the name of Te Awakairangi and with the Good Shepherd as its Patron.
Further south in the Hutt Valley the parishes of St Patrick’s, Wainuiomata; San Antonio, Eastbourne; Our Lady of the Rosary, Waiwhetu; and Sacred Heart, Petone; become a new parish with the name of the Parish of the Holy Spirit – Te Wairua Tapu.
The parishes of Our Lady of Fatima, Tawa; and St Pius X, Titahi Bay; become one new parish with the name of Our Lady of Hope Parish.
In the Wellington East area the three parishes of St Patrick’s, Kilbirnie; Holy Cross, Miramar; and St Anthony’s, Seatoun; become a new parish with the name of Holy Trinity Parish.
I thank all the people in those areas who have worked so hard to consult with many people about the name for their new parish and to work on the Implementation Plan.
We pray in thanksgiving for all that has been done and ask God’s abundant blessings for the life and work of those parishes in the future.
Masses will be held in 2015 to celebrate the inauguration of the new parishes as follows.Family and community
The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops convened by Pope Francis on marriage and family during October begins a year of deep reflection for the Church.
This reflection will continue in the lead-up to part two of the Assembly in October 2015.
Advent and the Christmas celebration of the Holy Family bring special attention to the significance of our families and communities.
In this issue of Wel-Com we feature invited contributions with a variety of viewpoints and encounters about what family means in Aotearoa New Zealand today.