Leaders from 13 Auckland colleges received their badges at the St Vincent de Paul Vinnies Commission Mass on April 9.
In his homily, Bishop Patrick Dunn said this year’s commissioning Mass was during what Pope Francis had called a Year of Mercy. “He said that he wants the whole Church around the world to focus on God’s mercy and for us to be people of mercy.”

Late last year Pope Francis was meeting people from all over the world, and high on the ceiling was a mosaic of Jesus.

“Pope Francis, when he was talking to all those people . . . said at the end of our lives, he’s going to ask us one of two things. . .

“He’s going to say to us either, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, or he’s going to say, I was thirsty and you didn’t do anything. And Pope Francis says it is as simple as that. Mercy is at the heart of the Gospel; that’s all that counts.”

He loved the words of Pope Francis, Bishop Dunn said. “I prefer a Church that’s bruised, hurt and dirty because it’s been out on the streets, rather than a Church that’s clean because it has been confined.”

Bishop Dunn said: “Young Vinnies, thank you for the way you do that in your school communities. We are very proud of what you do. It’s a commitment; this practical work of mercy will remain part of your lives.”

Later, almost 50 Vinnies secondary school Vinnies leaders from those schools were presented
with their badges and “lights of hope (candles)”.

Bill Van Dam (left) and Peter Courtney were recognised for their service in a special ceremony towards the end of the commissioning Mass.
Bill Van Dam (left) and Peter Courtney were
recognised for their service in a special ceremony towards
the end of the commissioning Mass.

One of the final acts of the evening was to farewell Bill Van Dam and Peter Courtney for years of service to St Vincent de Paul.

The president of the East Auckland  Council Area, Claire Murphy, said they wanted to celebrate and honour the contribution of the two faith-filled and generous men who had for more than 30 years given service at national and international level.

“You have both worked tirelessly to build up the society and encourage others in this work . . . and in a particular way for the good of this city,” she said.

You both, she said, have been very strong links to this expression of mercy and to defining love in action. “May you continue to be close to Our Saviour Jesus Christ and blessed by the
gifts of Jesus.”

Secondary school leaders came from Baradene, Carmel, De La Salle, Liston, and Marist colleges, McAuley High School, Rosmini, Sacred Heart, Sancta Maria, St Dominic’s, St Mary’s, St Paul’s and St Peter’s colleges.

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