During the summer months, Whangarei’s Catholic parish and schools
are trying something new to help build up the faith life of families.

A series of “Summertime Twilight Masses” started on Labour Day Monday, followed by another on December 1 and two more are scheduled for February and March.

Parishioners, families and friends were invited to attend the Masses, which were followed by a sausage sizzle and games in the grounds of St Francis
Xavier Catholic School.

St Francis Xavier Catholic School deputy principal Glenys Jakicevich told NZ Catholic that the numbers at the first two summer twilight Masses have been pleasing.

The idea for the Masses came about after a combined survey was sent out from her school and Pompallier Catholic College asking families how “we could make Sunday Mass more ‘doable’ for families, as we noticed a big difference in the numbers who attend our schools and the numbers at Mass”.

“The answers came back and many families commented on the busyness of their weekends being a barrier to getting to Mass,” Mrs Jakicevich said.

“Some also commented about Mass not being engaging for younger parishioners,” she added. “We wondered about changing the time to 5pm on a Sunday and offering games and a sausage sizzle might encourage folk to come to Mass and enjoy connecting with other families afterwards.” (Normal Sunday Mass times in Whangarei are 6pm (vigil on Saturday), 8am and 10am.)

The initiative is being organised by staff from both Catholic schools in Whangarei and by parish priest Fr Chris Martin, SM.

After the first two Masses, feedback from parents and children has been “very positive”, Mrs Jakicevich said, although “we would love to see more teenagers there”.

Young people enjoyed playing on basketball courts and a scooter track was well-used. Most who attended have said they will definitely come back again.

One of the school Mums sourced sausages and bread at no cost, and, after one of the Masses, “we ran out of sausages”, Mrs Jakicevich said.

It is hoped that the summertime twilight Masses and activities afterwards become “a regular fixture on our parish calendar and more people help with the organising”.

More families are welcome to come along and worship and enjoy the experience, Mrs Jakicevich said.