by ROWENA OREJANA
Our Lady of the Rosary Waiwhetu celebrated the 60th anniversary of priesthood of respected Church historian, lecturer, former rector of Holy Cross College, teacher, youth minister and parish priest Msgr John Broadbent on July 25.
Msgr Broadbent was ordained by Archbishop Peter McKeefry on July 24, 1955, in St Mary of the Angels Church, Wellington.
Waiwhetu parish priest Fr Michael Stieller paid tribute to Msgr Broadbent, recalling the description of Msgr Broadbent’s brain by their friend Fr Kevin Hyland as like an “acetylene torch: Oh so bright, oh so very sharp!”
Fr Stieller said Msgr Broadbent has a natural talent for languages and a special interest in Church history.
Msgr Broadbent wrote a brief history, The Formation of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington 1840-1988, and, in 2002, the volume: Restoring the Laity’s Balance to an Unsteady Church. He has also written numerous articles for journals.
“People hung on his words. In parish study groups at various pastoral meetings and courses, archdiocesan gatherings (and) lectures, all have listened, learnt and had faith enhanced,” Fr Stieller said.
As a newly ordained priest in Lower Hutt, Msgr Broadbent became the chaplain to the Catholic Youth Movement in Lower Hutt. Quickly realising that a number of young people still needed to be attracted to the flock, he established the Capistrano Club.
“Gatherings and meetings of young people took place in various venues, one the Horticultural Hall and later the Town Hall. On Sunday evenings, the young folk enjoyed dancing and dining to the bands,” said Fr Stieller.
But, he said, the teaching role seemed to be the outstanding feature of Msgr Broadbent’s priestly life.
Msgr Broadbent taught Church history for seven years at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji and was rector of Holy Cross College, Mosgiel, for four years.
“As a teacher, he has that special gift of being able to seek the level of understanding of his listeners — be they children in the parish primary school or students in the senior years, or seminarians in preparation for priesthood. This is a rare gift,” Fr Stieller noted.
Msgr Broadbent served at the parishes of Sts Peter and Paul, Lower Hutt, St Joseph’s, Waitara, St Patrick’s, Palmerston North, Sacred Heart, Takaka, Sts Peter and Paul, Johnsonville, St Mary’s, Nelson and Our Lady of the Rosary, Waiwhetu.
“When John was ordained he was told by the bishop, as all priests are, to serve Christ as priest, teacher and shepherd. He was told to apply his energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ — the Chief Teacher.
“In all humility, what a great success he has been,” said Fr Stieller.
by ROWENA OREJANA