by ROWENA OREJANA
Tucked in the heart of Ponsonby is St John Vianney House, home to 10 retired priests.
The latest resident, Msgr Brian Arahill, said 58 years ago, when he was ordained, he certainly hadn’t thought
about retirement or where he would live.

Resident priests at St John Vianney House are well looked after. From left to right: Fr Peter Penney, Msgr Brian Arahill, Msgr Terry Leslie, Elizabeth Tuakolo, Fr Anton Timmerman MHM,  Sr Justina PDDM and Msgr Kevin Hackett.
Resident priests at St John Vianney House are well looked after. From left to right: Fr Peter Penney, Msgr Brian Arahill, Msgr Terry Leslie, Elizabeth Tuakolo, Fr Anton Timmerman MHM, Sr Justina PDDM and Msgr Kevin Hackett.

“But that’s the passage of time,” he said. “There comes the ‘right time’ [to retire].”
Msgr Kevin Hackett, Fr Anton Timmerman, Fr Peter Penney and Msgr Terry Leslie were having morning tea when NZ Catholic came for an interview. The atmosphere was jovial. There was much teasing going on.
“I’m enjoying being here,” said Msgr Arahill. “I know all the people that are here. It’s not like I’m coming in
to a strange community.”
The age of retirement is always personal, said Auckland Council of Priests chairman Msgr Paul Farmer, even as he pointed out that a number of priests in the diocese are well into their 70s and 80s.
“Currently, the house is full with 10 priests. We’ve always tried to keep one room free for priests who need to convalesce after surgery or illness. Because of the demand, this has not been possible for some time,” he said.
Because of this, Auckland diocese is embarking on a $3.2 million extension project, adding seven rooms to the facility.
The diocese has raised about $1.79 million from benefactors and estates and will launch a diocesan wide appeal to raise additional funds.
Msgr Leslie said the diocesan authorities hope that more priests can come to live there.
“I like living here. We are very well treated,” he said.
The priests were grateful to the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master who care for them, as well as to Elizabeth Tuakolo, the cook.
Fr Penney said living in St John Vianney House (SJVH) makes all the difference. “It’s the proximity of the doctor and the chemist, that’s very important to us. The fact that the doctor is very accommodating when we require them, that’s very important,” he said.
SJVH opened in November 2001.

Buildings on the left and at the front are to be added in the St John Vianney House extension project.
Buildings on the left and at the front are to be added in the St John Vianney House extension project.

“Throughout its 14 years of existence, it has been a huge asset to the diocese, providing good care, security, company and healthcare for our senior and retired priests,” said Msgr Farmer.
Msgr Farmer said planning had been under way for some time. Resource consent for the project had been given.
“It is hoped that building itself can start in the near future. It is hoped that through a diocesan-wide appeal,
the rest of what’s needed can be raised. Bishop Pat has recently initiated this diocesan-wide appeal for this very needy cause,” he added.
Msgr Farmer said all parishes, ethnic communities as well as charities and grants will be approached for additional funds.
“After years of dedicated service, sometimes in lonely and difficult situations, it is important that we care for our elderly, sick and senior priests in their twilight years,” Msgr Farmer added.

4 COMMENTS

  1. we want to say Hello to Fr. Martin Bugler
    Reeling Back the Years with Fr. Martin Reeling Back the Years with Fr. Martin
    Congratulations on the year of your 60th anniversary to the priesthood.
    You were held in great esteem and going back to my furthest memory with my Grandmother , your Aunt Kate (Catherine Sheehan). I remember she had you celebrate mass here in shanaglish Church. I just know how proud of you she was back then. She was deeply religious as your mother and all her sisters were. You were like the brother my mother never had. How many people said down the years that you were like a brother to them.
    You were always loving, kind, considerate generous, patient and understanding all your life. You had all the characteristics one would expect from a Priest. Thank you Fr. Martin. You are one of a kind. County Clare should be so proud to have owned you and Praise your existence.
    We Thank God for having had you.Thank you fr. Martin for all the masses and for the various sacramental celebrations. My parent’s Wedding, my son’s Baptism and the house blessing Masses on each of your return visits to County Clare.
    We wish you Peace, Health and comfort for the rest of your life.
    with love From Maureen Tom and Martina
    knocklawrence, Gort, co. Galway

  2. Congratulations and Thank you so much
    15th June 1958 – 15th June 2018

    15th June 1958- 15th June 2018 60th Anniversary to the priest Hood Fr. Martin Bugler
    in st John Vianney House

    Thank you for your service to God
    and his people
    For the past 60 years
    From Maureen , Tom and Martina and all in Knocklawrence , Gort

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