by KATHLEEN CASEY
In the fairly new and still settling parish of St Francis of Assisi in Mairehau, parishioners honoured their patron’s feast day by holding a full weekend of prayer and action in early October.

Youngster Benjamin Robb enjoys helping with the garden work.

From the mists of the past, Fr Simon Eccleton pulled up the Forty Hours Devotion and a dedicated team of Fr Matthew Valloppallil, Matt O’Connell, Matt and Sharon Gardner and Traci Luxford and secretary Kirsten Tester put in a huge effort to set up a programme with something for everyone. Exposition began at Midnight Mass on Friday October 3 and continued until Benediction on Saturday before weekend Masses began.
Included were morning and evening prayer of St Francis, family adoration, the Angelus, the Divine Mercy Chaplet Taize Prayer and the Franciscan Transitus ceremony, which depicts the last hours of the life of St Francis — who spent some of this time in a hut in the forest and at his death insisted on being put on the floor, like Christ. Both this and the hour of Taize Prayer late evening proved life giving and special to many.
There was a Reconciliation service and opportunities for confession and prayer for healing and a solemn Mass on Saturday morning.
Feedback has been positive, with comments about how much the prayer opportunities lifted people’s spiritual lives and how much the wide variety
of prayer was much appreciated.
St Francis is also the patron saint of ecology and the practical slot in the
weekend was helping the city’s voluntary group “Greening the Rubble” in
Christchurch.
A crowd of parish people of all ages spent Sunday afternoon cleaning up land for a new park in the city, on the corner of Manchester St and Oxford Terrace, and made a huge difference.

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