by ROWENA OREJANA
WELLINGTON – On a cold wet night in Heretaunga, about 70 priests and parishioners from Stokes Valley, Heretaunga and Upper Hutt met with Archbishop John Dew to learn more about teachings
on what the Church is today.

People at the Upper Hutt gathering listen to Archbishop John Dew.

It was the last of the Archbishop’s talks called “Understanding Church”, presented in 11 parishes in the archdiocese.
Archbishop Dew said it was to share with people and to be present as a bishop. It is part of the teaching role of the bishop, to be there and to share fundamental documents to help us understand what the Church is.
He said that in his presentations he was amazed by people’s enthusiasm to learn more about their faith. “[I was struck by] the goodness of the people and the willingness of the people to be involved in the life of the Church, really. People are just very interested and want
to do the best for the Church,” he said.
Archbishop Dew started with prayers. “Because I’m trying to get everyone, whatever they do and whatever meetings, to have a reasonable time in prayer,” he said. He launched the presentation
with a look at two documents on the Church: Lumen Gentium and The Church in the Modern World.
He stressed the role of the baptised in bringing about God’s kingdom or reign in the world. “In The Church in the Modern World, I really stressed that we are called to read the signs of the times and to respond to whatever is going on in people’s lives, whether their joys,
their hopes, their difficulties, that the Church should be there,” he said.
The archbishop discussed the Greek words that describe the Church: kerygma, which is about proclaiming and sharing the faith, studying Scripture and the Church’s traditions; leitourgia,
from which comes liturgy and how we worship; and diakonia, which is about being of service to the Church and world.
Archbishop Dew also described the universal Church and the archdiocese’s role in it.
“We are committed to being disciples and choosing every day to make a disciple’s response. And we do that in our parishes. And I talked about being the people of God continuing the work of
Christ in its own area in collaboration with the society around us.”
Heretaunga parish priest Fr Ron Bennett said parishioners loved the talk. “It was very inspiring. He was just kind of sharing his vision for the Church, like he’s very positive and people took that on board. They were really positive about being Catholics and being a
Church,” he said. “It was about Easter, which is about new life. And also a new pastoral area. He explained the exciting things that Pope Francis is saying. It seems there’s an excitement in the air.”
Archbishop Dew ended with challenges from Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. “I think, probably, the biggest challenge that I tried to put to people was that
what we’re all called to, because we’re baptised and it is the baptised that makes the Church, ‘fascinate the world with the beauty of love and the freedom offered by the Gospel’. They are words from Pope Francis,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Dew said he will discuss with the council of priests and the diocesan and pastoral councils the possibility of holding similar talks in the future.

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