Sixty one Auckland priests left behind their parish work and other duties in May to spend a few days at Waitangi.
Auckland diocesan priests came together at the Copthorne Resort in Waitangi for an assembly from May 2 to 5.

In an earlier assembly, two years ago, the priests met at Turangi.

According to Auckland Council of Priests chairman, Msgr Paul Farmer, this was an opportunity for the men to be together, to rest, to get to know other each other better and to build a happy and healthy spirit among themselves.

The gathering was welcomed with a powhiri by the people of St Teresa’s parish, Moerewa.

The guest speakers were Dame Claudia Orange, a New Zealand authority
on the Treaty of Waitangi, and Fr John O’Connor of Christchurch, a speaker on theology and spirituality.

Msgr Farmer said that Claudia Orange put the treaty in the context of New Zealand’s history in the decades before it was signed and in the decades afterwards.

“Her input was outstanding,” he said.

It was especially helpful to immigrant priests, or those not born here. “Many of them mentioned they had heard about the treaty, but really didn’t know much about it [before].”

Fr O’Connor spoke about the place and ministry of diocesan priests, in particular in the light of the Year of Mercy.

Dame Claudia led a visit to the newly opened Treaty of Waitangi Museum and, with the curator, escorted the priests there.

“This new museum is truly amazing, and I would recommend any New Zealander to go and visit as I think it would be very helpful to getting a better understanding of the treaty,” Msgr Farmer said.

After the museum, the priests were escorted to the treaty grounds and through the Treaty House.

The initiative for the assembly came from Bishop Patrick Dunn. He was very keen to get his diocesan priests together to spend time with each other.

“A time of prayer was enjoyed by coming together for morning and evening prayer, and all participated in a beautiful eucharistic liturgy that was celebrated each day,” said Msgr Farmer.