by NZ CATHOLIC staff
AUCKLAND — New Zealand’s only diocesan seminary, Holy Cross in Auckland, is to get a new rector.
Msgr Peter Jeffrey from Australia will take up the position at the end of January. The appointment was made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples in December 2011.
Msgr Jeffrey will take over from Fr Philip Handforth.
On January 29, Msgr Jeffrey will celebrate his final Mass at St Brendan’s Parish in Shepparton, where he has been parish priest for 16 years. The following day he will leave for New Zealand for his new role at the seminary, where first year students will begin on 5 February.
The president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop John Dew, said the New Zealand bishops are grateful for Fr Handforth’s dedication and service to the seminary and are praying for him, as he has recently suffered from ill health. “We are also delighted to be welcoming Msgr Jeffrey to the seminary,” he said.
The archbishop said that Msgr Jeffrey brings many years of experience as a staff member and rector of two seminaries and has been highly involved in Catholic education. “He also has great enthusiasm for the new evangelisation and, having worked in a number of parishes, has a proven knowledge of pastoral ministry. We believe that under his leadership students in our national seminary will develop a deep appreciation of priesthood.”
In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview, Msgr Jeffrey said he hoped he had become a better listener and been approachable and available during his time at St Brendan’s.
“I see that as the core of priesthood and I hope I’ll be able to witness and share that with the students I’ll be working with in New Zealand,” he said.
He said the key thing for students is their own personal, human formation. “If we know ourselves and know how to relate with and understand other people, we can build relationships, and it’s all about establishing good relationships.”
Msgr Jeffrey was ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral in his home town of Bendigo, in Victoria, in 1963 and worked as assistant priest at parishes in Beechworth, Cohuna, Heathcote and Shepparton.
He then spent 12 years at Corpus Christi Provincial Seminary in Australia as a member of staff (1972–1977) and rector (1978–1984). In 1985 he was appointed a staff member of the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji and became rector in 1989, a position he held until 1993.
In 1994 Msgr Jeffrey became parish priest at St John’s Catholic Parish in Euroa before joining St Brendan’s in 1995.
In addition to seminary and parish roles, Msgr Jeffrey has been chairman of the Sandhurst School Education Board since its inception 15 years ago; director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria for 12 years, and chairman of a diocesan ecumenical commission for 14 years. He was named prelate of honour (monsignor) by Pope John Paul in January 2000.