Sunday, 21 May 2017

Wellington celebration for Fatima centenary

Fatima’s centenary celebrated in Wellington
19 May 2017
More than 100 people including families and children gathered in Wellington last week to  honour our Lady of Fatima during the 100th anniversary of her first apparition.
The event was very appropriately held at the Our Lady of Fatima church in Tawa and organised by the Centre for Marriage and Family (CMF).

“We wanted to honor our Blessed Mother and give glory to Her Son by marking the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima which happened on the 13th of May 1917.”
There was a Living Rosary where each person (or a group of people) stood for a particular bead. A person or representative from the group gave a flower to the pilgrim statue of our Lady of Fatima before going back to their place and saying their assigned prayer.

The Centre also launched the Family Rosary Prayer Chain where the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima is passed on from one family to another. “One of the requests of our Lady to the three children was the daily recitation of the Rosary. The Family Rosary Chain is one way we can fulfil our Lady’s request. It is aimed at encouraging families to pray the Holy Rosary for peace in families and in the world. We hope that through this prayer chain, many families will continue saying the Rosary even after the pilgrim statue leaves their family to go to the home of another family,” commented CMF Director Patricia Sison.

Aside from these, the Centre has produced 7 snippets which can be published in parish or school newsletters during the centenary that tell the story of Fatima in a nutshell, including what is needed to respond to our Lady’s request to achieve peace in the world. A modified form of these snippets were sent to parishes by MissioNZ, the Pontifical Mission Societies in New Zealand, to promote the centenary.

The history of the apparitions at Fatima dates back to 1917 when the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children to give a message for the world. She asked for prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners that they may be brought back to God. By heeding her message which is the message of the gospel itself, there will be peace in the world, said Mrs Sison.
Her apparitions show the breadth and depth of God's love and Mary's maternal concern for humankind. “When we look at the world around us, where we have lost our sense of sin, where there is much Christian persecution and violence, the Fatima Message needs to be shared and listened to afresh for it is an invitation to respond to God's mercy and seek the peace that only God can give. Pope John Paul II said that “Fatima is more important now than it was in 1917!”

For more information about the snippets or how you can get involved in the Family Rosary Prayer Chain, please contact .

In the wider global catholic church..... 
 On this 100th anniversary of our Lady's apparitions, Pope Francis travelled to Fatima where he canonized Jacinta and Francisco, two of the three children who saw our Lady. He had said that special graces will be granted to those who during the centenary, (1) Make a pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal; (2) Visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in any church during the anniversary days of the apparitions; and (3) For those unable to get around, pray to Our Lady of Fatima and spiritually unite themselves to the celebrations on the days of the apparitions.
In New Zealand....

On May 13, St. Pius X Church in Titahi Bay and St. Andrew's Church in Newlands commemorated the event through songs and/or slides. The parish community of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wellington, together with students from St. Francis Xavier School also commemorated the event on May 21 at the 10:30 am mass. Aside from the Living Rosary and Family Rosary Prayer Chain, the Centre for Marriage and Family has many other initiatives to make the centenary a special one. Both the Auckland and Christchurch dioceses also have a whole series of events commemorating the centenary to show the importance of the Fatima event 100 years ago and its significance for our times.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Life Questions

First World Marriage Day held in New Zealand.
15 February 2017
This year for the first time World Marriage Day was celebrated in New Zealand at a Wellington Event organised by the Centre for Marriage and Family (CMF).
“World Marriage Day honours a husband and wife as the foundation of a family, the basic unity of society.  It celebrates the beauty of their love, faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in their marriage. Further, it celebrates the children that are born to them out of their love and their establishment of a family,” stated Centre Chairman Ewen Laurenson and co-founder of the Open Home Foundation.
World Marriage Day is held every second Sunday of February in many countries worldwide. Its origins began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1981, when couples encouraged the Mayor, the Governor and the Bishop to proclaim St. Valentines Day as ‘We Believe in Marriage Day’. The event was so successful the idea was presented to and was adopted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter's National Leadership. In 1993, his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, imparted his Apostolic Blessings on World Marriage Day. Since then World Marriage Day celebrations continue to grow and spread to more countries and faith expressions every year.
“CMF wanted to use the occasion to affirm and celebrate the wonder of marriage and family in a secular age that so often seems to disparage or be indifferent to these concepts that for centuries have stood the test of time,” said Mr Laurenson.
The Family Fun Day Out at Aotea Lagoon included games and spot prizes, a walk around the lagoon, cakes, live music and a sausage sizzle. Many young couples and families attended despite the threat of wet weather.
“What impacted me the most, was that it was a lovely and joyous statement about the value to our society of marriage and family,” said Mr Laurenson, who together with wife Gillian won the prize for the longest married couple of 47 years!
Centre Director Patricia Sison said, “I felt God honoured the occasion in the way the weather held. God is good! He made the sun come out as He said he would and at just the right time-- 2 pm the start of the event. He is faithful and I have gained a better understanding of what marriage is through his faithfulness in my life.
“The event was a good public statement about support for marriage and family. It was so wonderful to have young people present and to observe their positive involvement one way and another. It is my prayer that these young people will value marriage and family in the years to come. 
“For CMF the event was a success as it reflected one of the organisation’s key values of  intergenerational participation, involvement and collaboration of people, young and old to stand and work to promote marriage and the family.

“One of the guiding principles of the CMF is to proclaim God's mercy from generation to generation from the song of Mary in the gospel of Luke and that I believe was what we did. Never was it more pronounced then through the walk around the Lagoon which was like a march signifying the generations coming together on a journey,  and proclaiming the great heritage of the human race which is Marriage.”

For more on the work of the Centre for Marriage and Family, email or visit  .


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Bishops Media releases


To the NZ Government and Public:

As leaders in our 3 Churches we wish to publicly state our concern about the proposed deportation of several students from India for falsification of their visa papers. We do not believe they intended to deceive the NZ government in this way.

“Having looked at their situation it seems to us that these students have been duped by unscrupulous immigration agents in India. In a previous similar cases we understand that where documentation had been deemed falsified by immigration agents then the group was allowed to stay.” Archbishop Philip Richardson said.

This points to an inconsistency in policy and an unfair treatment of this group of students.

The students were up-to- date with course fees at their educational establishments. They could not draw NZ benefits because they are not citizens or residents. Most of them were tax-paying workers according to their visa conditions and they were contributing to the NZ economy via their taxes, course fees and general living expenses.

We do not deny that the NZ government has a duty to carefully scrutinize immigration applications, nor that applicants have a responsibility in regard to their applications. However these can be complicated processes and the role and legitimacy of immigration agents also needs careful scrutiny. Immigration New Zealand seems to have erred in its processes as well.

“We urge the government to re-consider the case of these students. We do so on the basis of concern for the human situation of the students, our Christian responsibility to care for ‘the stranger, the widow and the orphan’ among us, and a concern for just application of NZ’s immigration policy.” Cardinal John Dew said.  

Cardinal John Dew
Archbishop of Wellington.

Archbishop Philip Richardson
Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

Reverend Prince Devandanan
President - the Methodist Church of New Zealand.

For more information please contact: Monsignor Gerard Burns, Vicar-General, Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington, 027-739-8473.

Simone Olsen
Communications Adviser
Te Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa
NZ Catholic Bishops Conference
04 496 1725
021 611 052

Friday, 26 February 2016

Cyclone Winston; Brief report on our Marist Missions in Fiji

The Monster Cyclone Winston (category 5) has left a massive trail of destruction in many parts of Fiji. As I write this article a total of 42 deaths have been confirmed but this number is expected to increase as communication lines to the worst hit areas are being restored.
A number of our Marist Missions were not spared. Fortunately all our confreres in these devastated areas are safe.

Tutu Rural Training Centre, Taveuni
At the Tutu Rural Training Centre in Taveuni 22 buildings were either completely or partially destroyed. These were staff houses, dormitories, workshops, hall and kitchens. 

In the farm approximately 106 000 kava plants half of which belong to student farmers and 22 000 dalo plants most of which belong to student farmers as well have been damaged. 

The urgent needs in Tutu right now are, building materials with an estimate cost of $125 000, food for 25 families and 72 course participants. 

Fortunately water and electricity has been restored since Tutu has its own source for these two amenities. Their electricity is sourced from a hydro plant via underground cables so blackout was not an issue in Tutu during this time of devastation.

Holy Cross Parish, Wairiki, Taveuni
The presbytery sustained partial damage while the primary school had a classroom block and 6 teachers’ quarters destroyed.

St John’s College, Cawaci, Ovalau
The school sustained extensive damage to their school buildings, girls dormitories, teachers and staff quarters, the church, convent and presbytery. 

The only buildings that were intact but sustained minor damages were the 6 dormitories for the boys. But the ablution block for these dormitories was blown down too.

A number of the school buildings particularly those of wooden structures were completely blown down while other concrete structures still stand but completely or partially without roofs.
The church has half of its roof ripped off including the roofs of the two steeples.

The presbytery also has half of its roof blown away and its balcony upstairs wrecked.
The convent by the girls’ dormitories has its roof completely ripped off as well.

According to the College Principal Fr. ‘Ekuasi Manu the rebuilding of the school will be administered by the Ministry of Education. 

The heritage group has been to assess the damage to the church and so the urgent need for him now is the repair of the presbytery and the convent which the ministry will not take responsibility for. He needs solar panels as well particularly for the hostels as it might take weeks to restore electricity.

All the student boarders have been sent home. They had to walk from Cawaci all the way to Levuka town to board the ferry into Suva.

Fr. ‘Ekuasi hopes to start school again as early as next week especially for the Year 12 & Year 13 students. He is in negotiation with the Ministry of Education in the hope that he will get the provisions the college needs to commence school again next week at least with the seniors.

Sacred Heart Parish, Levuka
The Parish Priest of Levuka Fr. Petero Tagidrau was on visitation to Koro island when the cyclone struck. Koro island is one of, if not the worst hit areas by cyclone Winston.

However in Levuka apart from the wrecked fence, slight damage to the back of the church and the parish hall there is no obvious damage to the main structure of the church and the presbytery.

One of the two primary schools in the parish, Loreto primary school is on the mission lanin the village of Tokou is completely destroyed. On the 1st of January 1993 the school suffered the same fate when cyclone Kina (category 2) struck the islands and rebuilding took six months. Now the school has been struck again.

Dawasamu Holiday House
Our property in Dawasamu which is about an hour & half’s drive from Suva towards the north east of Viti Levu was destroyed as well. What are left standing now are two water tanks and the toilet block. Otherwise the two old wooden house which use to house seminarians for holidays and which was only renovated a few months ago have been reduced to shambles.

Fr. Pio Fong Waqavotuwale SM