Fifty years of work by Caritas and its predecessor organisations for justice, peace and development was marked with a Mass celebrated at St Joseph’s church in Mount Victoria in Wellington on the evening of June 27.Some 200 people gathered for the Mass, including Parliamentarians, board members, donors, volunteers, staff (past and present) and supporters.

Caritas staff welcomed everyone at the beginning of the Mass, acknowledging all those who have been part of the Church’s mission of justice, peace and integral human development, these past 50 years.

The Mass concelebrants were Cardinal John Dew, Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, Msgr Edward Karaan (first Secretary for the Nunciature), Fr Michael Pui (Christchurch), Fr Gerard Aynsley (Dunedin, retiring chair of Caritas Justice and Peace Committee) and Fr Brendan Ward (Rector, Holy Cross Seminary).

In his homily, Cardinal Dew gave thanks for the work of Caritas over the last 50 years in responding to the needs of our neighbours around the world. He emphasised that the work of Caritas in caring for the poor and working for justice is part of who we are as a Church, firmly founded on the teaching and example of Jesus, shaped by the formal teaching of the Church and exemplified through saints and holy people throughout the history of the Church.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the Caritas Internationalis confederation of about 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice organisations — which met recently in Rome for its four-yearly general assembly.

Cardinal Dew quoted Pope Francis, who had met with and spoken to members of Caritas Internationalis at the assembly in May. The Holy Father had reminded Caritas representatives and volunteers that, though they’re called to have professional standards and respond to donor’s expectations, they must also remember that the Church is not a business.

“In the world, those who have more speak more, but among us it cannot be that way because God loves to reveal himself through those who are small and last.”