From a Catholic Mass at 8am with birdsong beside a clear running river, to an Anglican Communion in the midst of a bustling city, to a circle of prayer with waves lapping on the shore, pilgrims of the Hutt Valley blessed and were blessed by Te Awa Kairangi – ‘river of great value’ – in a prayer walk along the Hutt River trail on 11 September.
About 100 people walked along the riverside at various stages to take part in the ecumenical Season of Creation. They took part to give thanks and pray for healing and restoration of the river.
The journey began with an outdoor Mass celebrated by Fr Maleko of Upper Hutt parish, where students from St Joseph’s school prayed a blessing. Representatives from St Joseph’s and later in the journey St Bernard’s College attached emblems from their schools alongside other ribbons on a prayer staff continued the journey.
As the pilgrims travelled to mark the beginning of each of the nine stages of the journey, the life of the river continued – whitebaiters waited by their nets, fishers angled for trout, and new plantings of willow and natives to protect and enhance the river were evident. Pilgrims placed flat river stones with reflective phrases along the trail for anyone to notice and ponder.
By 4pm the walkers had reached central Lower Hutt, where Anglican minister Murray Wills led a short communion service. Some stayed for Evensong at St James Anglican Church, while others continued to the Petone foreshore. There, 14 people concluded the walk at sunset with reflections, a closing prayer and song. The pilgrims now know more intimately Te Awa Kairangi, which brings such life to the valley.
More stories about the Season of Creation activities in parishes will be featured in next month’s WelCom.