by KATE MAHONY
The atmosphere as the crowd waited to welcome Cardinal John Dew back home at a liturgical reception said it all. In the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a full, excited congregation turned towards the huge wooden doors that had been specially opened. As kai-karanga Pauline Takiwa and Rangi Hau called in the new cardinal, a myriad of handheld cellphones and iPads recorded his arrival.
Waiting in the sanctuary was the official delegation: Emeritus Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal Thomas Williams; Archbishop Martin Krebs, Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand and the Pacific; and Bishop Charles Drennan, representing the other New Zealand bishops. With them were representatives of archdiocesan bodies, chaplaincy members, and head prefects from all the Catholic colleges in the archdiocese.
Before the altar was a simple tribute: the Cardinal’s red biretta, a candle and flowers. At the front of the cathedral were the New Zealand national flag and the Vatican’s yellow and white flag.
As Cardinal Dew entered, Vicar General Monsignor Gerard Burns presented him with a crucifix to venerate and blessed him with holy water. While the cathedral choir sang an antiphon, the cardinal, accompanied by Msgr Burns, sprinkled the congregation with holy water. Vespers, the office of Evening Prayer, was begun.
During the service, Archbishop Krebs gave the homily based on the Gospel of St James 5:16, 19-20. He observed that one of the written tasks of a bishop was to be a good shepherd and to seek out the
ones who have strayed and gather them in. Bishops and cardinals, too, must lead wisely but firmly. He prayed that Cardinal Dew might continue to be a great man of prayer who will also not be afraid to act as an elder brother. He told him it was an honour to have “your eminence here as a
member of the College of Cardinals”.
Cardinal Williams, in his welcome to Cardinal Dew, said the new cardinal was chosen solely on his “outstanding merit and pastoral qualities”. He was singled out by the Pope and was now a member
of Pope Francis’s team in one of the most crucial periods in the life and the mission of the Church. He promised that Cardinal Dew could rely on “our unswerving loyalty, constant companionship and prayerful support”.
In reply, Cardinal Dew recalled the announcement in the early hours of the morning on January 5 and being woken to text messages of congratulations on his cellphone. “Since then I have received
nothing but love and support, messages of congratulation. By 7am, in my first radio interview for the day, I happened to say ‘I am an ordinary Kiwi bloke’. Since then the words have been repeated back to me often, but I [still] believe this to be true.”
Cardinal Dew said he was delighted so many people were there. “I am thrilled at all the ages and cultures.”
He said being a cardinal was not necessarily a blessing. “It brings responsibilities.
Pope Francis told us, the greater your responsibility in serving the Church, the more your hearts must expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ.”
Cardinal Dew added, “I need your prayers to enable me to live this responsibility”.
Cardinal Dew also thanked Anglican Bishop Duckworth and his wife Jenny, and the Dean of the neighbouring Cathedral of St Paul, Digby Wilkinson and his wife Jane, for their attendance.
While the congregation sang Mo Maria, members of the Pacific Island community garlanded Cardinal Dew and the official guests with lei.
Following the service, Cardinal Dew spent three quarters of an hour meeting people in the cathedral foyer. The cardinal, who has a public page on Facebook, smiled obligingly for each new photo.