by ROWENA OREJANA
Auckland parishes are struggling to find projects to undertake that fit the year-old Fit 4 Mission, Auckland’s diocesan pastoral plan.
Parish and pastoral services group leader Pat Lythe told NZ Catholic they are not yet where
they want to be, “but it’s not too bad”.
“We are not as far as I would like, but not too far from the goal,” she said. “They are starting to get the message, actually.”
Fit 4 Mission calls for everyone in the diocese, individually and as groups, to share the good news of Christ’s love through service.
But Mrs Lythe said there is some difficulty getting parishes to understand that mission “is not about proselytising, but service and action”.
“If you are going to visit Catholics in resthomes, that’s pastoral care, not mission. And if you’re going to run a homework centre for your own parish’s kids, that’s also pastoral care, it’s not mission,” she explained.
“Whatever project they take on needs to be open to the wider community, not just their own, because it’s not mission otherwise. And that’s quite difficult to get people’s heads around,” she added.
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said he was pleased with the effort of St Peter’s College.
“They have actually caught the idea, which is to look at what can be done to make our society a nicer place. What we think Pope Francis is suggesting is not how to get more people into the church, but look at what are the needs in society and just go help them,” he said.
On May 17, under a gloomy sky, a perfect backdrop for an old cemetery, the college’s Nolan House boys tidied up the resting place of religious at St Patrick’s Church in Panmure.
St Peter’s director of special character, Hayden Kingdon, said the boys weeded and pruned overgrown shrubs for four hours and through two rainshowers.
“They cleared and unearthed a lot of wonders. For example, there is this large and beautiful old grave that hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time because of all the
shrubs and weeds. They discovered a big beautiful stone bible at the foot of the grave,” said Mr Kingdon.
“No one has seen it for years. The boys really worked very hard and they really transformed the graveyard.”
He said as well as a feeling of accomplishment, the boys felt a tie to the history of the Church in Auckland.
Bishop Dunn also praised St Helier’s parish. “Fr John Dunn, the parish priest, has really transformed the parish and the parishioners have become more aware of the needs in the neighbouring suburb,” he said.
Mrs Lythe said this is what the plan is all about.
Their project started out with one parishioner knowing someone at a low decile school in Glen Innes. The parishioner learned that the families of the students at the school needed some furniture. The parish decided to help.
The parish, which is relatively wealthy, bought beds and things, but it has expanded from there.
Parishioners go to the school and help with reading recovery and visiting families. “It’s become a real outreach effort,” said Mrs Lythe.
She said the parish decided to take it a step further. “Because of what they are doing, they then got together to make recommendations to Parliament for poverty action. So it went from action in the parish to advocacy, which is really what we would like parishes to do,”
Mrs Lythe said.
Mrs Lythe said she hoped the parishes would each have a project before the end of the year. She said the next part of the plan is to get parishes to work together on a mission.