by PETER GRACE
Retired couple Helen and Patrick Doherty can show, should they want to, that they have been
wholly dedicated and committed to peace, the environment and the community.
In Auckland on September 21, the couple were presented with the Auckland City For Peace Adult
Award, sponsored by the Peace Foundation and the Auckland City Council. The plaque they were
given reads: “For their utmost dedication and commitment to community wellbeing, peace building in the environment and neighbourhood, working for families in need, and being advocates for justice.”
Mr Doherty told NZ Catholic that they feel strongly that their work for justice and peace is an
articulation of their community efforts. For himself and Helen there is a consciousness of big issues.
“One is environmental and climate change, and the other is social inequality.”
Even though they got this award, Mr Doherty said, he admires and is in awe of others in the Catholic Church. “For instance, a woman like Mary Betz, who is secretary for our Justice and Peace Commission, and Peter Garrick, and chairman Shane Coleman, and the choice Bishop Pat
made to set it up in the way it is.”
They are both involved in Pax Christi, Mr Doherty said, and he is part of the Justice and Peace environmental committee in Auckland.
“We have written and put out a guide called God’s Earth, which is excellent, and which has gone out to the parishes.”
In Auckland, Mrs Doherty said, she and Patrick were known a bit because of their involvement in the community garden — “a movement to bring the community together, to try and address the difficulties we are going to face in the future [like] climate change, peak oil and
the whole thing of cutting down on fossil fuels”.
They are part of the Glen Eden Transition Towns Movement, she said, and have been involved in
the Twin Streams Planting project.
Mr Doherty pointed out that the community garden two lots down from their home involves
eight local households and, in that way, strengthens the community.
The garden was the Ecowise Winner 2013 Karaka Award — for the best community garden in west
He recently decided to go and train with a group called Vision West. That group came into being
about 10 years ago, when the Glen Eden train station became vacant.
A group of women set up a drop in centre there, and that showed them there was a community need.
They went back to their Baptist church and have since become a social agency offering support such as budgeting help and counselling, and with 45 houses. Knowing that families were suffering, he wanted to make contact and work with them, Mr Doherty said. “I believe
we can only manifest the grace, we become the grace that we receive.”
Patrick is also a guardian of the Peace Place, Mrs Doherty said. They do some things together, but also some separately.
“I am a teacher at Paremoremo. I do some voluntary teaching there and I do voluntary work at the Citizens Advice Bureau.”