An opportunity to share High Tea with Bishop Michael Dooley proved attractive as about 100 Dunedin faithful gathered recently at a former Sisters of Mercy convent, Marinoto House, in the grounds of Mercy Hospital in Dunedin. 

The social event, held on September 30, was organised by the Nano Nagle Charitable Trust (NNCT) as a fundraising venture to aid their charitable work.

The NNCT rely on donations and some fundraising activities to support families who need help with payment of school fees, school uniforms, shoes, etc. Earlier this year, the NNCT raised funds by making and selling dozens of cheese rolls.

This was only the second time that the NNCT has held the High Tea event. The previous occasion was some four years ago when the majority of the New Zealand bishops were in Dunedin for a meeting.

Musical entertainment featured strongly from the 2pm start of this year’s event, which was filled to capacity. Two musicians from the St Joseph’s Cathedral music group commenced proceedings with a flute and piano performance.

They were followed by singers from St Peter Chanel School, led by their teacher Pesamino Tili. The school was originally staffed by Irish sisters of the Presentation Order, which was founded by Venerable Nano Nagle in Cork in the mid-1770s.

Former Kavanagh College student and Gore Gold Guitar award winner Kylie Price, and Sacred Heart parishioner Peter Moroney both demonstrated their musical talents at the event.

Bishop Dooley was interviewed by Sr Veronica Casey, PBVM, who heads the five member Dunedin-based trust. Speaking about his recent time in Rome, Bishop Dooley noted that he had found Pope Francis to be genuinely interested in people. He marvelled at the Pope’s capacity to meet and greet so many people during the course of a day.

Asked by Sr Veronica about the issue of sexual abuse in the Church in Dunedin, New Zealand and also overseas, Bishop Dooley said that while the revelations had been troubling, he intended to deal with the local matters honestly.

He indicated that was also the view of the rest of the New Zealand bishops in their dioceses. He believed that this would be a cleansing period for the universal Church and it would emerge stronger from it.

Then it was time for High Tea. The tables, set up in a couple of large downstairs lounges, were well supplied with sandwiches and cakes donated by local volunteers. Bishop Dooley socialised by moving around the rooms and meeting individuals and small groups.

The $20-a-head, three-hour event took a lot of behind-the-scenes organising and
voluntary contributions in terms of time and food to achieve a very successful fundraising goal. But while it represents a solid single sum, the NNCT relies on small and larger donations to achieve its aim of providing support to allow pupils in need who meet the criteria to go to Catholic schools.

In 2017, with funds raised totalling $28,352, the NNCT assisted 97 students mainly through paying attendance dues in several parts of New Zealand.