by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — Loneliness is the greatest poverty in Auckland diocese today, says the Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn.
Bishop Dunn, talking to more than 1000 young people at the World Youth Day celebration in Auckland on July 13, said this is the most urgent need they can tackle for the diocese’s programme, “Fit for Mission”.
“I reckon one of the great ways in which young people can actually take on board ‘Fit for Mission’ is to look out for who is in need, who is suffering,”he said.
Bishop Dunn said poverty and the need for housing are undeniably urgent concerns, but he said the poverty of loneliness “is one of the greatest poverties”.
He said migrants and young people themselves can feel isolated. “I think one of the great things young people can do is to try to be friendly with everyone and keep an eye out, at school, at home, in your parish or your community,” he said.
The bishop fielded several questions from within the group. One question was from a woman who left her husband three years ago and still felt guilt-ridden, despite having been to the
sacrament of Reconciliation.
Bishop Dunn explained it can happen this way sometimes. “Forgiveness is genuine. But you’ve still done something that has caused a lot of grief. And that will be with you forever. We all
make mistakes. We all do things that cause harm to others and to ourselves. Remember, we ask God’s forgiveness, but we have also been hurt and wounded by what has happened,” he
However, he said the experience will help us be more compassionate.
The bishop was delighted by a question from a seven-year-old who asked why everybody is different.
“I think everyone is so different because God is so amazing and each person in some way reflects the beauty, and the goodness and the creativity of the Creator,” he said. “And so, to my seven-year-old friend, I say, yes, we are all different, and it’s really wonderful,
and you my seven-year-old little friend, you are an image of God for the world.”
The bishop was welcomed like a rock star by the young people, who clapped and cheered loudly when he walked onto the stage.
Other young people also encouraged participants to take up their missions.
Sophy Valentine, originally from the Ukraine, spoke about her ministry helping refugees.
“I wanted to be a missionary overseas. I thought, I didn’t have enough money to go overseas. I didn’t have enough skills to be a missionary,” she said.
Then she realised she was already “overseas” in New Zealand, and spoke five languages that refugees speak.
Miss Valentine, who was already working for a lawyer for refugees, said she started working with all her heart once she realised what her mission was.
Architect Martin Leung-Wai also spoke about his participation in World Youth Day Celebrations in Sydney and Madrid.
“You’d want to take it easy and let the Holy Spirit guide you. I encourage everyone to use your gifts,” he said.