Te Tau o Hāto Hōhepa – The Year of St Joseph

WelCom October 2021 On 8 December 2020, Pope Francis published his Apostolic Letter, ‘Patris corde’ – ‘With a Father’s Heart’. Francis’ letter fittingly commemorated the declaration of the 150th anniversary…

WelCom October 2021

On 8 December 2020, Pope Francis published his Apostolic Letter, ‘Patris corde’ – ‘With a Father’s Heart’. Francis’ letter fittingly commemorated the declaration of the 150th anniversary of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. On 8 December 1870, Blessed Pope Pius IX, a great devotee of St Joseph, made this declaration for St Joseph to become known and loved among the members of Christ’s faithful universally. To mark the anniversary, Pope Francis proclaimed a ‘Year of Saint Joseph’ from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021. 

Catholics have been honouring the Year of St Joseph in many ways. Those with churches and schools named after St Joseph enjoy special and ongoing affiliations every year. As part of this month’s Hīkoi Whakapono to St Theresa’s Catholic Parish of Plimmerton, pp 10 and 11, ‘Friends of St Joseph’s Church Pāuatahanui’ were invited to write a reflections about their much-loved ‘historic place’ named after St Joseph. 

From ‘letters’ by the Friends of St Joseph’s Church, Pāuatahanui

He Kupu Whakamānawa ki a Hāto Hōhepa – Tributes to St Joseph

“Our family have been involved with St Joseph’s for 48 years, attending Mass once a month for several years. Our twin boys Hadyn and Diarmuid were baptised there 41 years ago. Over the years Nualla my late wife organised many working bees and with a barbecue afterwards. It’s Nualla’s love for St Joseph’s that has influenced me and made me want to help in maintaining and promoting our lovely St Joseph’s Church”. – Gary

“St Joseph’s, Pāuatahanui has been a place of peace to me and our extended family where we can feel God’s presence. Time seems to stand still there. It feels like my ancestors and parents buried there are also able to watch over me and all their descendants, with pride and love. Inside St Joseph’s church it feels like I’m stepping back in time and these words come to me: ‘Tread gently upon this sacred place, you tread where saints have walked before you’ – saints who toiled for the faith of future generations like us.” – Anne 

“This sweet little church and cemetery tucked away for so long, out of sight and relatively unknown for much of its 140 plus years has now blossomed into this ‘Jewel on the horizon’ as you approach it from the new Transmission Gully roundabout just after leaving Pāuatahanui village. It’s a place of special interest to us ever since we buried one of our children there 40 plus years ago.” – Laurie

“The faith, determination and hard work of Pāuatahanui early Catholics in building St Joseph’s are inspiring. Over the years, the “little church on the hill” has provided a sacred space for generations, and especially for those whose loved ones lie at rest in its lovely gardens.” – Helen

“My family have lived in the area for well over 50 years. We have found St Joseph’s Church to be a treasure in the history of Pāuatahanui, the Catholic Church, and the pioneers of the Wellington region.” – Barbara

“I love seeing St Joseph’s two or three times a week. It includes driving through the Pāuatahanui roundabout, on SH58, and being bombarded by multiple construction activities as the Transmission Gully Motorway progresses. As you negotiate the final roundabout, there appears St Joseph’s, the historical church, which on the right day and time can sparkle in the sun. In contrast to the noisy happenings on the motorway, it is a place of peace, something heavenly that can touch the soul, not just to those of us who garden there or sing carols there at Christmas, but for all travellers who welcome a picture of tranquility at this stage of their journey.” – Julian 

“Since the time our family became involved with St Joseph’s in preparation for the centenary [1978], this special church has become our spiritual home. Our mother Eileen, with Dad in support, poured her heart and soul into caring for St Joseph’s over the decades. Working bees and services created treasured memories for all generations. Every time I’m there I think of all the past and future friends of the church who were touched by this place and in turn became part of it. With family members married, baptised, farewelled and buried on this sacred land, St Joseph’s is like a relative, a loved character, whose comforting arms welcome and wrap around the whole community.” – Susan

“In past years I shared the job of mowing the lawns and around the graves on a regular basis. It was a rewarding experience getting to know the ‘residents’ as I mowed. Also, when my mower stopped to refuel, how peaceful it was to sit there among the graves listening to the wind and birds, and the noise from Transmission Gully was still comfortably at a distance. I felt God knew I was there.” – Dennis

The Friends Prayer
“Creator God, we praise You for the gift of this special place and time. We remember with respect and love those buried here. We give thanks for their lives well lived. As Friends of St Joseph’s we honour this space by caring for what it represents. The rolling hills, the flowing streams leading to the beautiful Paremata Inlet, the trees and plants that sustain and shelter wildlife are all precious gifts. We give thanks for your sacred presence here. Amen.” – Catherine