A prayer of blessing and thanksgiving was prayed over Fr John Roberts by the congregation as he marked 40 years a priest to the day on August 19.Thirty parishioners had travelled the 50 minute drive from Whanganui to the south Taranaki
town of Patea to join the parishioners of St Patrick’s for a 9.30 am Mass which Fr Roberts was rostered to celebrate.
“If given the choice to do this all again I would,” he said. “I just marvel at me — the least
— to be called to serve and nourish others.”
Unable to pinpoint one particular highlight, he appreciated just being able to be with parishioners and to share in the highs and lows of their lives. Brought up as an Anglican,
Fr Roberts became a Catholic in his early twenties.
“My desire to do this came about when learning about the English reformation under Henry VIII who broke away from the Church and began the changes of age-old understanding
and doctrine,” he said.
Fr Roberts did his seminary training at St Paul’s National Seminary in Sydney for late vocations. He was ordained in St Joseph’s church in Upper Hutt by Bishop Owen Snedden and recalls being stunned at the number of people who attended, especially those
from his home town of Featherston.
His first Mass was celebrated at St Francis Xavier church in Stokes Valley in Wellington the next day, where he had served as a deacon.
“When I celebrated this Mass of Thanksgiving the next day I had an overwhelming awareness that standing at the presider’s chair and at the altar was absolutely right,”
After ordination he was appointed to Stratford, then Palmerston North Cathedral, Waipukurau, Whanganui, Our Lady of Lourdes back in Palmerston North, Pahiatua,
Island Bay, St Gerard’s Monastery, Feilding and he is currently based in the Catholic Parish of Whanganui — Te Parihi Katorika a Ki Whanganui.
He was involved in the preparation of the national liturgy education programme, called “Exploring the Liturgy”. Most recently he helps prepare the Ordo, the annual calendar
which tells people which feasts are celebrated and when.