by Msgr DAVID TONKS
Nine priests who have come to serve in Auckland diocese from other places participated in a three day orientation programme, held at the Mary MacKillop Centre, Mission Bay, on October 16-18.
Participants included one New Zealand-born Marist priest, two Sri Lankan diocesan priests, a Tongan Marist, and five Indians — a Salesian, a Redemptorist and three Capuchins.
Coordinating the programme were Sr Jane O’Carroll, SM, pastoral assistant to the bishop, Pat Lythe of the diocese’s pastoral and evangelisation office, and Msgr David Tonks, vicar for clergy.
The programme offered participants the opportunity to build relationships with one another, and to tell their stories about ministry experiences overseas.
One, ministering in India, told of extremists who had attacked the parish, and were about to kill him, but changed their minds. Another spoke of mediating between warring factions in Papua New Guinea. Another spoke of his work with street children in the Philippines.
These priests have come to Auckland shaped by living the Gospel in situations of poverty, violence and challenge.
During the course, the priests were offered insights into New Zealand culture and parish ministry; preaching; the history of Auckland diocese; faith formation and sacramental practice; Catholic primary schools; and funerals and pastoral care of the bereaved.
Participants enjoyed the time together, and expressed gratitude for their new insights into ministering in Auckland.