WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand – Caritas Aotearoa Niu Tīreni

WelCom July 2019:

50 years of ‘love in action’ – kua 50 ngā tau ‘whakaatu i te aroha me te manaakitanga’.

This year marks 50 years since the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference – He Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa established national bodies for Catholic overseas aid, justice and peace, and provision of lay volunteers overseas. Today, all three strands are found within Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Agency for Justice Peace and Development.

Caritas grew out of Catholic concern during the 1950s and 1960s for justice and a fairer distribution of the world’s resources; as well as the Second Vatican Council’s promotion of the Church’s concern for social issues and the role of the laity.

Many have shaped Caritas and its predecessor organisations over the years. Manuka Henare was Executive Director in the time of transition from the New Zealand Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development to Caritas. He says:

Cardinal Reginald Delargey and Bishop Brian Ashby, who served as the respective Episcopal Chairs for COAC and the CCJP.

‘From its beginnings, Caritas’ role has included reading the signs of the times. Jocelyn Franklin and
Fr John Curnow attended the Vatican Council meeting on the Role of the Laity with (then) Bishops Delargey and Ashby. They committed the New Zealand Church to the obligation to ‘read the Signs of the Times’, as a fundamental pastoral task of social justice and human development. It was taken to mean that the church should listen to, and learn from, and respond to the world around it.’

Caritas continues to read the signs of the times and apply ‘See, Judge, Act’ to the issues of our day in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas.

In 1975, it joined the international Caritas network of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies, adopting the Caritas name in 1992.

Caritas has been holding a series of Diocesan Masses to acknowledge and honour all those who
have shaped supporting the Church’s mission for justice, peace and development. Anniversary Masses were held in Dunedin and Christchurch on 24 March this year.

Members of Caritas Kiribati Youth Group planting mangroves to protect their shoreline and provide a food source.

Caritas 50-year Mass concelebrants, Cardinal John Dew (c); Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, Apostolic Nuncio
to New Zealand (r); and Fr Gerard Aynsley (l), parish priest of Dunedin South parish, and retiring chair of Caritas Justice and Peace Committee. Photos: Caritas

The Wellington Mass took place at St Joseph’s Church in Mount Victoria on Thursday evening, 27 June. Around 200 people gathered for the Mass, including parliamentarians, board members, donors, volunteers, staff (past and present) and supporters.

Mass concelebrants were Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington; Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, the Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand; Monsignor Edward Karaan first Secretary
for the Nunciature; Fr Michael Pui; Fr Gerard Aynsley; and Fr Brendan Ward.

On the eve of the Wellington celebrations, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director, Julianne Hickey said, ‘This anniversary marks a significant milestone for the Church in New Zealand and provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge all those, past and present, who have been part of the Church’s mission of justice, peace and integral human development, these past 50 years. As we are about to begin the third decade of the new millennium, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand stands in a strong position to be able to respond to the needs of people around the world.’

Cardinal John said, ‘We give thanks for the amazing work Caritas has done over the past 50 years. It is also the chance to reflect on the challenge that belongs to all of us to reach out to the poor and underprivileged. Catholic responses to poverty and injustice is part of OUR mission.’

A chronology

1968: A national conference is held on New Zealand Catholic overseas aid and mission activity, after which Catholic Overseas Volunteer Service (COVS) is formally established.

1969: A National Co-ordinating Committee for Catholic Overseas Aid (COAC) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) are established, responsible to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

1978: COAC and the CCJP together become the New Zealand Catholic Commission for Evangelisation, Justice and Development (NZCCEJD).

1988: It becomes the New Zealand Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development (NZCCJPD).

1992: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace are established, both served by the Catholic Office for Social Justice.

1998: The combined entity becomes known as Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand – the Catholic Agency for Justice Peace and Development.

2012: Mahitahi (which superseded COVS) is integrated into Caritas – its work is now known as Catholic Volunteers Overseas.