The new home of the Catholic Discipleship College was blessed in a day of celebration at Pukekohe on February 18.
A Mass was celebrated at St Patrick’s church and visitors enjoyed lunch at the new college site, the former Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions convent adjacent to the church. The blessing was carried out by Fr Dominique Faure, the college chaplain.
CDC board of trustees chair Bruce Fraser-Jones spoke at the event, saying that the four months since being told by Auckland diocese that the college’s lease at the St Joseph’s Centre in Takapuna would not be renewed (for maintenance reasons) had been “an incredible journey”.
Upon being told of the nonrenewal of the lease, Mr Fraser-Jones said it became apparent that the college needed to find its own home. This was going to be its third move in six years.
So then began a threefold process of fundraising, negotiating with the sisters and keeping an eye on the clock, with this year’s intake taking shape.
“In late October and through November, we spent the time selling the vision of the college to potential donors, and by the middle of December, we had secured enough funding to purchase the convent from the Mission sisters. A few large donations, coupled with many medium and smaller donations, enabled us to reach our goal.”
He thanked many people involved with the project, notably some significant donors who were at the blessing event. The fundraising came together with a combination of donations, loans and God’s grace, he told NZ Catholic.
The property was purchased on December 18 and the next day builders started “gutting what needed to be gutted”, so as to suit CDC’s requirements, including a new kitchen/dining room, upgraded bathroom facilities, and a new administration area.
“We have got the job done. We are incredibly proud of it and it looks good,” Mr Fraser-Jones said.
He paid tribute to the work of the Sisters of the Missions over so many decades in Pukekohe. (The last sister to live in the convent moved out some 12 months ago). The sisters first arrived in the district in 1885.
He noted that a large oak tree near a driveway on the property had been planted by Sr Euphrasie Barbier, the foundress of the congregation.
CDC formation leader Dr Cameron Surrey extended a warm welcome to Sisters of the Missions who were at the blessing.
“It is really important for us, the past that is still present here in the peace that reigns in this building, that is the fruit I’m sure of your prayers and the joy that you shared so many years living here,” Dr Surrey said.
“I’d also like to thank all the members of the parish for their support.”
Mr Fraser-Jones looked forward to a strong association between the college and the parish.
He also noted that CDC is layled organisation; and the present board of trustees, staff and students have the responsibility of being the custodians of the facility, for faith formation in future generations.
This year there are 13 students living and studying at CDC. At the blessing event, each one gave a brief description of why they had come to the college. Two of the students are from North America.
The college has its own chapel and also has the Blessed Sacrament on site.