Priests from Hamilton diocese have been revisiting one of the most important aspects of their ministry — their own human formation. The annual priests’ gathering for the diocese — formerly known as the “clergy school” — was held in Rotorua this month.

Psychologist Pauline Griffiths from Wellington worked with the clergy.

In welcoming her, Bishop Stephen Lowe referred to the words of St John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992): “The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its
necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation.”

The psychologist spoke on a range of topics: “Looking after ourselves”, “effective communication”, “exploring grief”, sexual abuse”, “celibacy” and “managing difficult
situations”.

She also spoke about “schemas” which enable better self-understanding. Tauranga’s Fr Mark Field was one of the priests at the gathering.

“Pauline’s work with us was challenging, and at times intense, but it was a reminder to us of our humanness, our vulnerability — and our need to address any issues which may be hindering us in ministry,” Fr Field said.

“Her sharing also helped to make us more understanding of the challenges faced by the people to whom we minister.”

Fr Field noted that that gathering “wasn’t all hard work”.

He said there was “plenty of time to relax together also”.

“It’s always good to spend time together and to build up the spirit of fraternity amongst the priests of the diocese.”

During the gathering, the priests celebrated Mass each day with parishioners from St Mary of the Cross parish in Rotorua.

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