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

South Island’s Lay Pastoral Leader Commissioned

WelCom March 2017:


(Mary-Ann Greaney) –

Merrick Mitchell received a pounamu cross from Cardinal John Dew during his commissioning, supported by Launch Out manager, Joan McFetridge (left).

Cardinal John Dew commissioned Merrick Mitchell as a lay pastoral leader at a packed-out  9.30am Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Richmond on 29 January.

Merrick was commissioned for the soon-to-be amalgamated parishes of Richmond, Motueka, and Takaka that will be known as Our Lady of the Bays – Te tatou wahine o ngā whangapariha Katorika.

Cardinal John said, ‘Leadership in a parish is not just about getting the tasks done; not just about doing things and ticking the boxes so we can say this roster has been completed, or this sacramental programme has been organised. Our priests and lay pastoral leaders, working together, look to serve you and your sacramental, spiritual, pastoral and educational needs.

‘Merrick and the priests in the pastoral team here will consciously try to see God in one another, and will work tirelessly, generously and energetically to help every person in this parish to see the presence of God all aspects of your lives. By your love, care, concern and support for one another you will also help them to see God’s presence. Any of us in pastoral ministry are blessed and privileged to be with you in times of prayer, at significant and important moments of your lives, and to witness the deep faith you have. We discover God together.’

Thanking the many who supported him during his eight years in formation, Merrick  (a qualified and practiced veterinarian) said, ‘Like yourselves, I bring myself, my gifts, my faith, my flaws. I bring who I am to the service of the Church, who is the Body of Christ. I value your support and prayers.

‘More than doing, my role and our role is about being; being who we are – being the Body of Christ, being kind to others, being generous with our time and gifts, being people of prayer and service.’

Lay Pastoral Leaders have been in formal ministry in the Archdiocese since 2006 with others ministering in the Wairarapa, Wellington South, the Hutt Valley and Otari. Their formation is undertaken through the Archdiocesan Launch Out programme.

More than 20 Launch Out candidates as well as many graduates, friends and family came from as far away as Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga to celebrate with the community at the commissioning Mass – many being billeted by parishioners.

Kahurangi Pastoral Area turned on summer the day before the commissioning for the large crowd who gathered at Rabbit Island for a bbq.

Parishioners gather at a bbq on Rabbit Island to celebrate Merrick’s commissioning.

People travelled from Wellington, Tauranga and Christchurch to celebrate Merrick’s commissioning.