Oceania’s Catholic bishops to gather in capital

WELLINGTON — About 80 bishops from Australia, New Zealand, Papua
New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and other nations in the Pacific will come to Wellington for a five-day assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) from May 12 to may 16, 2014.

2010 FCBCO held in Sydney

“The assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of
Oceania is a unique time of prayer, fellowship, reflection and discussion on topics which concern all of us. It is a valuable opportunity for collegial support for one another as bishops,” said
Wellington Archbishop John Dew, president of both the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and FCBCO.
The assembly, which is held every four years, will allow Catholic bishops from across the region to discuss issues and challenges facing the Church in Oceania.
“Within Oceania, there are many small and isolated countries as well as small and isolated dioceses both with limited material or human resources and together we are better able to face the challenges in our region,” Archbishop Dew said.
The assembly will begin with a powhiri and opening Mass in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on May 12.
The Oceania bishops will be visiting the Home of Compassion where they will learn more about Suzanne Aubert and the work of the Sisters of Compassion in the wider community.
Archbishop Dew said another Mass will be held at St Patrick’s College, Kilbirnie. Students from all the colleges in the archdiocese will represent their
school communities.
It is 20 years since this Assembly was held in New Zealand when the inaugural Assembly was held in 1994 in Auckland, but it is a first for the Archdiocese of Wellington.
“Through these liturgical celebrations and interactions they will see something of the life of the Church here in New Zealand,” he said.
The bishops will also hold close meetings where they will discuss the development of “young people with Catholic hearts and minds, faith amid secularity and living not for ourselves but for others”.
“The theme throughout will be evangelisation in the spirit of Pope Francis and no doubt much of the spirit of these formal and informal conversations will come from the Holy Father’s inspiring exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,” said Archbishop Dew.
The bishops are also expected to discuss the results of the survey on family life ahead of the synod in Rome in October.
Archbishop Dew’s term will end with this assembly.
“It has been a pleasure to serve in this role and to spend time with the bishops of this vast region of Oceania. I have been privileged to represent the federation as president at two synods, one on the Eastern Churches and more recently on the New Evangelisation,”
he said.
Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan and Dunedin Bishop Colin
Campbell will be representing New Zealand in the FCBCO council for the next four years.


Plenary Sessions will cover the following;

· Australian Immigration Policy and Detention Centres. Bishop Eugene Hurley with input from Archbishop Douglas Young and CBC PNG&SI representatives about the Manus Island centre, information from Bishop Mea about Nauru Island centre.

· Pastoral Planning and Earthquakes. Bishop Barry Jones and Mr Mike Stopforth, Director of the Pastoral Office, Diocese of Christchurch

· Reading the Signs of the Fiji Times: Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva

· Conference Responses to the Preparatory Document for the III Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Representatives from each Conference.

There are also three workshops:

· Developing young people with Catholic hearts and minds

Mrs Rachel Pitcaithly is Ministry Team Coordinator at St Bede’s College in Christchurch, which caters for young men aged between 13 and 18 years. Rachel has introduced innovative and very effective ways of helping the students to pray and to practise their faith, including using Catholic practices such as the Rosary and Benediction. This workshop will look at how young men can develop habits of prayer and service at a very formative time of their lives.

· Faith amid secularity

Dr Chris Duthie-Jung is the Director of the National Centre for Religious Studies, which is part of the Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand. In Western countries the Generation Y age group (born 1981-1995) is largely absent from Catholic parish life and their Catholic identity seems increasingly tenuous. This workshop will consider recent research into the Catholic identity of a sample of young adult Catholic New Zealanders, and how it affects their participation in the life of the Church.

· Living no longer for ourselves but for others

Father Mark Chamberlain is the parish priest of Holy Name Parish in Dunedin. He is a member of the ecumenical chaplaincy team at Otago University, a hospital chaplain, spiritual director and psychotherapist. He integrates these ministries through reflection and the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. In this workshop he will reflect on how our parish communities, and especially the Sunday Mass, can be formative for our young people in deepening their relationship with Jesus and desire to serve others.

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Rowena Orejana

Reader Interactions


  1. Msgr. Raymundo T. Sabio, MSC says

    Indeed, the Assembly of 80 Catholic Bishops from various conferences in Australia, New Zealand, PNG-Solomon and Pacific Nations held in Wellington, N.Z. from May 12 to May 16 was a grace-laden and successful event. There were a good number of points raised and discussed which touched on the renewal and deepening of the life of faith and prayer of the young students as well as the young adults.
    Also, the issues related to the asylum seekers and the inhuman treatment they received in the detention centers in Manus Island and Nauru; the pastoral planning vis-a-vis natural disasters like earthquake and other calamities; as well as the signs of the difficult times in Fiji as related to the Catholic Church were discussed.
    We express our heartfelt gratitude for the excellent organization of the assembly and the gracious and generous hospitality extended to the bishops by the organizing host: the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of New Zealand led by Archbishop John Dew of Wellington Archdiocese.
    Prefect Raymundo T. Sabio, MSC
    Marshall Islands

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