by PETER GRACE
RONGOTEA, Manawatu — There must be something in the Manawatu water that develops apostolates and service.
Three parishioners from the country parish of Rongotea received Benemerenti medals and certificates on February 5 — a week before three people at their “mother” parish, Our Lady of Lourdes (story page 2), were honoured in the same way.
The Rongotea trio of Remai Hehir and John and Anna Feldberg were honoured at Mass at Rongotea celebrated by Palmerston North Bishop Peter Cullinane.
Our Lady of Lourdes parish priest Fr Percy Kimble, SM, said they have been the driving forces of the Rongotea Catholic community.
It has been such a powerful, prayerful community, he said, “and their contribution to the spiritual life of the community has been outstanding”.
The three of them had also been involved in the diocese, “and Mr Feldberg has also carved some magnificent statues in various parts of the diocese, including Mary and Child in the cathedral in Palmerston North”.
They had also had been great ambassadors of the Church in terms of ecumenical life in Rongotea, Fr Kimble said.
Mrs Hehir’s grandson, Liam Hehir, said Rongotea hadn’t had a parish priest for a long time. His grandmother and the Feldbergs had done a lot to keep the parish going, such as organising liturgies and feast days.
His grandmother had been a parishioner since about 1948, and had trained altar servers and taught CCD, Mr Hehir said, and she and the Feldbergs contributed a lot to parish life.
“It was nice of Bishop Peter to come out [to celebrate Mass],” he said. “It was fitting in some ways, because he has been so supportive of that little country parish.”

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