WelCom October 2017: Bishop Felix Lian Khen Thang, Bishop of Kalay Diocese in Myanmar, visited New Zealand for the first time in July this year. He spent a week in Nelson to give pastoral and spiritual support to families from Burma and Myanmar who are now living in the Holy Family Parish Nelson-Stoke. On 11 July Bishop Felix met with Cardinal John Dew and celebrated Eucharist with the families.
Bishop Felix and Cardinal John talked about working together with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Myanmar. It is hoped a priest can come out from Myanmar to New Zealand to offer spiritual support to migrants from that country including areas in their language, retaining their culture, respect for New Zealand culture, and keeping strong in their Catholic faith.
Bishop Felix spent several sessions with local Myanmar parishioners instructing catechism in preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism. He said he felt happy and welcome within his own culture in New Zealand, which began at Nelson Airport with greetings from the Myanmar community who performed their Pitmut and Daak lam instrumental welcome.
While Bishop Felix said the process of obtaining a New Zealand visa was daunting, he was reassured once he saw the New Zealand countryside, which he said looked like ‘home country’, and by experiencing a heartfelt welcome in Nelson.
Mary Gunn is a parishioner and parish secretary at Holy Family Parish Nelson-Stoke.