Auckland diocese’s new general manager, James van Schie, was “handed over” to his new role by friends, family and other supporters at a powhiri at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre in Ponsonby on March 4.
Mr van Schie, who had previously been the executive officer for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, was accompanied by his wife Hannah and their children Mary, Patrick and John.
The family, which was previously based in Wellington, is living at Holy Cross Seminary near the diocesan centre while they look for permanent accommodation.
At the powhiri, the new diocesan general manager said he and his family had received “a great welcome”.
People in Wellington had told him “you know, Auckland, they are pretty tough up there, you might not really like it”, he said. But the welcome had been outstanding at all the church locations he had visited since arriving.
“I realise today that I am joining a community, the Catholic community of Auckland, not a corporation, and I wanted to have with me people that represent the community that I come from,” he added.
Mr van Schie acknowledged the presence of NZCBC secretary and Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan at the powhiri, describing him as “an important mentor and leader”.
Others accompanying Mr van Schie included Kitty McKinley and others from Challenge 2000, his former parish priest Fr Patrick Bridgeman and Martin de Jong from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
Bishop Drennan told those at the powhiri that many hearts were heavy at the prospect of handing over Mr van Schie.
In the names of the other five dioceses in New Zealand, Bishop Drennan asked Auckland not to “entrap this man in his office, not to shackle him to his desk, not to enslave him to his computer, for we ask you to continue to share this man’s gifts with all the Church
“Our people are crying out for new forms of leadership, new forms of governance. And we bishops need help to envisage what that might be and then make that real.
“And I can think of no person in this land who better can continue to help us than your new general manager, James.”
Auckland vicar-general Msgr Bernard Kiely received Mr van Schie as he was “handed over”. Pa Peter Tipene also spoke at the powhiri.
Auckland diocese staff welcomed Mr van Schie in various languages, including New Zealand Sign Language.
Five verses of Marty Haugen’s “All are Welcome” were sung at two points in the powhiri, which also included prayers and a blessing at which all raised their hands and prayed over Mr van Schie.
Included in the blessing was the prayer “Help him to be formed in your Word, sensitive to the needs of others, and reconciling in his relationships”.
“Give him the vision and courage to seek the truth and discern your will in all.”