by ROWENA OREJANA
Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan has asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to expedite the cause of Mother Suzanne Aubert to help in the “renewal of faith in this
secular country”.

In his letter to Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bishop Drennan said 85 archbishops and bishops, including three papal nuncios,
made a pilgrimage to Mother Aubert’s grave earlier this year and prayed for her cause. They were members of the Federation of Oceania Catholic Bishops Conference, who met in Wellington on
May.
“The advancement of the cause of Suzanne Aubert is already a powerful spiritual force for renewal of faith in this secular country. We humbly implore you to assist us in our mission
of evangelisation, through the expeditious facilitation of this cause,” he added.
Asked what stage the cause had reached, Bishop Drennan, the liaison bishop for cause, said “Cardinal Amato responded very swiftly to my letter confirming that the theological investigation will take place this time next year, and noting with interest the formal inquiry concerning the miracle”.
Australian-based Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay told NZ Catholic the bishops have agreed to support Mother Aubert’s cause.
Bishop Drennan said the New Zealand bishops are particularly encouraged by the strengthening of faith among Maori — to whom Mother Aubert dedicated her life.
This was echoed by Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard, who has been the Maori spokesman for Palmerston North diocese for many years as well as adviser on Maori matters, first for Bishop
Peter Cullinane and now for Bishop Drennan.
“I suspect that there will be a revitalisation of faith and/or interest of Maori communities if Meri Hohepa is beatified, for the mere reason that Maori will want to participate fully in the process and be central to any activities in regard to all this,” he said.
Deacon Karatea-Goddard said he was surprised by the increased number of younger Maori asking for sacraments of initiation, resumption of Miha Maori or Catholic liturgy, or just presenting
themselves for ministry, in the past year.
“In other words, we never know who the Wairua Tapu is moving in people’s hearts. We wait in
anticipation to see how a possible Aotearoa- New Zealand saint may inspire the next generation,” he said.
Although there seems to be a growing interest among Maori in the Catholic faith, figures from the 2013 government census show a decline in the number of Catholic Maori.
“For the Catholic faith to grow in Maori communities, it must grow in a way that is relevant and inclusive of our young Maori people, the rangatahi, the hunga taiohi,” Mr Karatea-Goddard
added.
He said there had been renewed interest from Maori Catholic communities around the diocese in Mother Aubert’s cause.
“All these communities spoke of Mother Aubert [Meri Hohepa], and how they wished to be not only consulted in regard to her road to beatification, but [they] wanted to participate fully
in the process and be central to any activities in regard to all this,” he said.

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