by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — A “wonderful treasure” of St Benedict’s parish, Newton, Eusenia Auva’a, was to get a Benemerenti medal from Pope Francis, but she died before she could receive it in person.
St Benedict’s paraish priest Msgr Paul Farmer announced the award at the Vigil Mass for Ms Auva’a on October 23. Ms Auva’a, 77, died on October 10, but the medal only arrived from Rome on October 17.
At the vigil Mass, the medal and certificate were accepted Ms Auva’a’s behalf by her sister Mary Tia Driver.
Ms Auva’a, who was born in Samoa, was something of an institution at St Benedict’s, where she had started as housekeeper for long time parish priest Msgr Alfred Hyde in 1971.
In his homily. Msgr Farmer said that Ms Auva’a did “everything, I guess, that one could do in a parish”.
This included visiting the sick and taking them communion, hospital chaplaincy, washing vestments and linen, arranging flowers in the church, being a part of social and fundraising committees and the parish council, as well as playing a major role in preparing food for parish events.
“She helped whenever she could, she helped wherever she was needed,” Msgr Farmer said.
“Senia’s greatest gift to this parish was her presence. She understood Church in a deep way.
“It was not some kind of a club for her own satisfaction.
“She didn’t just have a horizontal understanding of the Church. She understood the Church in its spiritual dimension. And without that, of course, it is not Church at all.”
Msgr Farmer said Ms Auva’a was “ a very holy woman”, who was part of a Saturday Rosary group in the parish and who also had a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
“Our parish is a better parish because of her and the many, many, many generous contributions she made over many years,” Msgr Farmer said.
Ms Auva’a, who never married or had children of her own, was regarded as a leader of her family in New Zealand, who knew her as “Aunty Senia”.