WelCom September 2023
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are entering an interesting time in our country and in our Church as this month of September begins. Here in New Zealand, we are in the midst of the campaign for the General Election planned to be held on 14 October 2023. We are hearing policies of various parties, politicians presenting their views, arguing for their positions and decrying the position of others. It can be a challenging time for us as we try and work out who we wish to lead us in the country for the next three years.
As Christian people we have the responsibility to vote and to take seriously for whom we vote. Christians are called to be involved in society and to take our place and to speak to what is true. We have a right to ask our politicians what they believe in and to challenge them if there are areas where we do not agree. We do so though in a spirit of respect for them as people and with a willingness to listen to what they have to say. We need good people to come forward to be our representatives and one of the worries of our age is that we are making it very difficult for people to do this with the way we are treating one another. Our society will struggle if we make it so unappealing to be part of our parliamentary system that good people aren’t willing to stand for parliament. I do encourage you to pray seriously for our country at this time and for the process we are going through.
As a Church we are also preparing for the Synod on Synodality that begins in Rome on 29 September. Fr Dennis Nacorda from Levin and myself are attending from our archdiocese, along with Manuel Beazley from the Diocese of Auckland. We have been having preparatory Zoom meetings with the other representatives from Oceania to get ready for what lies ahead. There will be over 400 people gathering in Rome for this Synod and it will be unlike any synod of bishops that has happened before. Many of you have been contributors to this process through our parish, archdiocesan and diocesan gatherings. All of the information has been collated and we will be looking at it in the context of the way the Church listens to its people and looks at the needs of the world and the teachings of the Church. This is the first of two sessions. After the first session is over there will be a chance for feedback once again from you on what comes out from the Synod.
It is important to remember this isn’t about voting on what the Church should or shouldn’t look like or how it is structured. This first session will be using the spiritual conversation process that we used in our meetings throughout the archdiocese and the Diocese of Palmerston North. We are trying to see where the Holy Spirit is speaking and what it might be saying to us. It is part of a process and like our election process we need to be open to listening and respecting one another as we go through this. Unlike the election there will not be a clear result at the end, but hopefully there will be signs of the Holy Spirit at work. You will see the prayer for the Synod below and I would ask that you pray it each day while the Synod is on for those of us who are gathered and for the Church in general.
I am sorry I won’t be here for the episcopal ordination of Fr John Adams at the end of this month, but I know you will pray for him and the people of the Diocese of Palmerston North as he takes up this call and as the diocese welcomes their new bishop.
Ngā mihi nui
+Paul Martin SM
Adsumus Sancte Spiritus
We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts.
Teach us the way we must go
and now we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance
lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together
to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever.