A Mass for the sick held at St Joseph’s Church in Wellington in February exceeded all expectations with 140 people attending, some from as far away as the Wairarapa.
A spokesperson for the Order of Malta which organised the Mass, Peter Wood, said the fact that the day coincided with the 150th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at Lourdes, and with World Day of Prayer for the Sick, it was a very special occasion.
Holy water for the penitential rite came from the spring at the grotto at Lourdes.
The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Balvo, was the chief celebrant, who used the opening words of the Stabat Mater as the focus for his sermon. The words, ‘At the cross her station keeping, Mary stood in sorrow weeping when her son was crucified,’ reminded us of the special compassion and holiness of Mary.
Local priests assisted Archbishop Balvo and the order’s chaplain, Dr Michael McCabe, in anointing many of those who attended.
Members of the Order of Malta assisted by members of St Joseph’s Parish, provided lunch for everyone after the Mass. The Order of St John (a sister Order to the Order of Malta) provided medical support for the event.
‘We were extremely humbled by the number who attended,’ Peter Wood said.
‘Our mission is to care for the sick and we remember them, their families and their carers in the daily prayer of the order.’
The order is planning to repeat the event next year.