WelCom August 2021
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August, is Aotearoa New Zealand’s National Patronal Feast. On Sunday 15 August this year, it is being marked in a unique way. At a special Miha at St Mary of the Angels Church in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand will be rededicated to ‘Mary, Mother of God, Assumed into Heaven’.
The New Zealand bishops have chosen Te Ara a Maria: Mary’s Way as the name for the rededication. The name was suggested by Manuel Beazley, the Auckland Diocese Vicar for Māori and it was approved by the bishops at a meeting in June this year.
Bishop of Hamilton Stephen Lowe, Secretary of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, said the bishops decided to renew the country’s dedication to Our Lady following requests from parishioners during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown last year.
The rededication will be a national celebration with representatives from New Zealand’s six Catholic dioceses present with the Apostolic Nuncio and the New Zealand bishops. The bishops will gather at St Mary of the Angels to recall and remake the dedication. The Liturgy will begin with a pōwhiri at 1.30pm, and a multicultural Mass presided by Cardinal John Dew will begin at 2pm.
The country was first dedicated to Mary as ‘Our Lady Assumed into Heaven’ by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier, when he celebrated his first Mass here at Totara Point in the Hokianga, on 13 January 1838.
From his arrival Bishop Pompallier sought to foster a relationship with the tangata whenua. In responding to a Māori tradition for music the bishop offered a hymn, composed in their own language, and giving honour to a woman living in relationship with the transcendent, and encouraging love. Bishop Pompallier’s hymn was Mō Maria.
Parishes and schools throughout the country are being invited to join in prayer for the renewal of the dedication on Sunday 15 August. The National Liturgy Office (NLO) is providing prayer cards, videos, suggested formats and hymns so everyone is united in the celebration. NLO is keen for everyone to learn two verses of the himene Mō Maria before it is sung at Masses around the country on Sunday 15 August as the ‘Catholic national anthem’.
Special elements will include a karanga, chants, Sign Language for the Deaf Community in attendance, prayers of intercession and joint choral performances dedicated to Mary. Everyone is welcome to join the bishops in this special service.
To celebrate the rededication, the bishops have commissioned a new artwork, from Christchurch based artist Damien Walker, to depict Mary in a way that connects her to Aotearoa. It will be presented in Wellington on the day of the renewal of dedication. A hīkoi of the new artwork will take place around the country after the Mass at St Mary of the Angels.
The New Zealand bishops have also confirmed the historic St Mary of the Angels church in central Wellington will become a national shrine to Mary.
For more information visit: www.tearaamaria.nz
Read more: The Assumption of Mary