The Catholic people of Whanganui and the Whanganui River spent Pentecost Sunday with Bishop Peter Cullinane.
All Sunday Masses in the parishes of St Anne’s, Holy Family and St Mary’s were cancelled and a combined Mass was celebrated at St Mary’s.
Kaumatua Bill Murray told the congregation to ‘Be glad that the bishop is here among us’, as he welcomed him on behalf of the host parish.
The church was imbued with a spirit of noticeable warmth as the 30-strong choir led by Joan Whelan began singing the entrance hymn E te Wairua tapu (Come Holy Spirit).
In his homily Bishop Peter hoped we would be as open today to the dramatic ways as the early church experienced the Holy Spirit.
‘Do we still get excited and joy-filled to that irrepressible desire to go out and tell everyone the news?’ He asked. Evangelisation hinges on our personal relationship and awareness of the Lord’s living presence in our midst.’
In an extraordinary moment when Bishop Peter mentioned the work of unity among Christian Churches, the bells ringing out from neighbouring St Paul’s Presbyterian Church could be heard quite distinctly!
Following Mass we moved to St Joseph’s hall for morning tea.
The new Manager of Pastoral Services in the Palmerston North Diocesan office, Mark Richards, facilitated the meeting.
Newly appointed Youth Minister Tony Bouterey presented an awe-inspiring powerpoint presentation of World Youth Day and gave details of the journey of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon when they stop over in Whanganui. We then farewelled them as they left to join other youth members in the Taranaki region at Hawera.
The Here Ukarie T%u0101pu Eucharistic Community used visual aids to tell the 200 people present about celebrating Tikanga M%u0101ori in their relationship with God and the Catholic faith. Virginia Sullivan rounded off this very warm and sincere presentation by quoting Pope John Paul when he visited New Zealand in 1986.
‘It is as M%u0101oris that the Lord calls you; it is as M%u0101oris that you belong to the church, the one body of Christ.’
The St Mary’s leadership team followed. Chairperson Gerald Lynch gave an update on the progress of the nearly two million dollar refurbishment of St Mary’s church and the building that will link the Church with Te Rau Orewa Marae.
Commenting on the $150,000 already raised he said the ‘fundraising venture has not only brought a sense of building community, but it has been a lot of fun also’.
With thoughts and questions about biculturalism and Catholic education the gathering was wrapped up. There was a sense of expectation for something more or perhaps it was just knowing that the Lord hasn’t left us home alone as we pick up those issues discussed.
Our day with the Bishop finished with a delicious shared lunch and with no one hurrying off home.
Pictures show (top) Jayson Herewini, Virginia Sullivan, Atiria Adlam, Mark Richards (obscured) and John Haami (obscured) using murals in their presentation; and (above left) Fr John Roberts helping Bishop Peter as the children return from the Children’s Liturgy of the Word armed with beautifully wrapped parcels representing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were placed in front of the altar.