Some 140 religious, representing most of the congregations or orders in Auckland diocese, renewed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at a Mass on the eve of Pentecost.

A Mass of Thanksgiving for Religious in the diocese of Auckland was held at Christ the King Church, Owairaka, on June 3.

At the Mass, Bishop Patrick Dunn quoted St John Paul II in Vita Consecrata, telling the religious that “your particular calling lies at the very heart of the Church”.

Bishop Dunn thanked the religious for “the gift that you are to the Church”, both in Auckland and universally.

“Each one of you is the story of a response to God’s call,” the bishop said.

At the start of the Mass, some 10 religious processed into the church carrying a copy of the constitution of their congregation/order and a lighted candle, on behalf of all present. These items were placed on a stand near the lectern.

Three Pasifika religious later in the Mass carried in the Book of the Gospels, accompanied by a sung acclamation.

At the offertory, three more symbols of religious life were brought forward, along with the bread and wine. These symbols were a knotted cord, expressing the three vows, a profession cross and a chart of chapter acts.

After the Gospel, each religious present renewed their vows and recommitted to the religious life. “Mo Maria” was sung in response.

The music at the Mass was led by Sr Jill McLoughlin, RSJ, and Fr Chris Skinner, SM.

In the homily, Bishop Dunn noted that the religious had renewed their vows “in the name of the Blessed Trinity” on the eve of Pentecost.

This is appropriate, Bishop Dunn said, as all mission has its origin in God.

The bishop also recalled a quote often attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero, but which were actually written in tribute of him: “We are prophets of a future not our own.”

“We don’t see the full picture, but we know that we all have a role to play, and it is all hidden in God’s heart. One day perhaps we will see exactly what our role was and the influence we have which is largely hidden from our eyes,” Bishop Dunn said.

He recalled the example of the late Fr Terry Fitzpatrick, SM, who died on Ascension Sunday.

At the vigil for Fr Terry, many people gave short tributes to him, and painted a type of mosaic of his life, the bishop said.

“And what you saw, the impression you were left with was Terry, a very good man who had had a huge influence on the lives of many. Just by doing little things, little kindnesses, mostly just listening to people, letting them speak,
but that influence had been life changing for many. And I’m sure that is true for each of you, that the influence you have is huge, but we don’t fully appreciate it. We will see it, please God in the fullness of time.”

Bishop Dunn also noted the emphasis Pope Francis is putting on listening, especially to young people, with the 2018 synod of bishops looming.

“I thought that’s what Terry Fitz did.  He wasted time, he was available, and people could pour out their hopes or their concerns or whatever. He listened.”

“Pope Francis is reminding us to listen, listen to the voice of God, listen to the young, listen to one another.

“We all know that to be disciples, we have to listen to the voice of the Master. And you represent, 140 or so lifetimes of listening to the voice of the Master. Thank you for your response.”

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