Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Caritas agencies in the Pacific strengthen themselves to care for the human family and care for the Earth, our common home.

The world-wide Caritas network is dedicated to caring for the neediest among the human family and caring for the Earth, our common home. From September 10-13 the Oceania members of the network gathered in Cairns, Australia, with other members of the Caritas family to renew our energies in that work. Present also were representatives from countries not yet members of the Caritas network, reflecting the forum theme of ‘Our Family, Our Future’ and strengthening ties with Francophone and Anglophone peers.

The forum identified the strengths and achievements of the Oceania agencies and the priorities for collective action over the next 2 years. We were helped in our global vision by a video presentation from Michel Roy, Secretary-General of Caritas International (CI) and updates from delegates on various CI working groups.

Common topics of conversation were the questions around preparedness for humanitarian emergencies, especially those caused by climate change, migration being caused by actual climate change and rising sea levels, mining and seabed mining in the region and questions of human rights.
We welcomed the recent statement of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) expressing concern about the exploitation of our seas and situation of the people of West Papua. We are encouraged that next year’s FCBCO assembly theme will be: Care for our Common Home of Oceania: a sea of possibilities.

Forum delegates were welcomed by Bishop James Foley of Cairns and accompanied in our reflection by Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Brisbane), vice-president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong (Suva, Fiji), and Bishops Peter Brown (American Samoa) and Jozef Roszynski (Wewak, PNG).

Our meeting began by listening to the experiences of members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As well as sharing stories of discrimination against their peoples since European settlement they also spoke of their deep relationships with land, animals, and ancestors, and of their hope for the future. We see that if we are to truly care for our common home we need to learn from the wisdom of the indigenous peoples of our world.

In the light of this encounter we looked again at what it is to be truly ‘developed’ as people and as communities. We studied Catholic Social Teaching on this question, from Paul VI’s ‘Populorum Progressio’ to Pope Francis’ proposal of an integral ecology in ‘Laudato Si’.

These considerations led the Caritas network in Oceania to focus on 3 main areas in the next 2 years: Climate change and environmental justice, indigenous perspectives on Catholic Social Teaching and becoming a more effective and broader organization.

Caritas Australia, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Caritas Papua New Guinea, Caritas Samoa, Caritas Tonga.

Contact: Mons. G. Burns, President Caritas Oceania
. +64-4-496-1737; g.burns@wn.catholic.org.nz 

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 info@marriageandfamily.org.nz .

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 info@marriageandfamily.org.nz or visit www.marriageandfamilyorg.nz  .


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