by JULIE SOUTH
The Bishop of Hamilton, Bishop Steve Lowe, celebrated his first Easter at the Cathedral
of the Blessed Virgin Mary with about 800 faithful on Saturday April 4.
“I give you my body. I give you my whole self,” were Jesus’ words to The Twelve at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Bishop Lowe called the faithful to reflect upon those same words from
the foot of the cross on Good Friday.
Bishop Lowe likened the empty tomb of Easter Sunday to being similar to what confronts
humanity with death.
An absence. A nothingness. The end.
He reminded the faithful that Jesus’ death is different.
Jesus’ death is that of a man who was crucified, died but rose again. “None of it makes sense, and yet nothing else makes sense,” he said.
Like the apostles being stuck in a closed room, so too can people’s attitudes be stuck in closed thinking. A stuck place where believing becomes difficult. Sometimes, however, Jesus
breaks into closed hearts and minds.
Believing becomes possible.
Believing becomes important.
Believing becomes special.
Bishop Lowe recounted being awoken by a call just before dawn with news his mother was dying. On the 50-minute drive, he prayed it wouldn’t be one minute too far. His prayer was not answered as he hoped. He was too late. His mother had died before he got there.
His sisters — who were just five minutes away — were also denied their final goodbye. However, the nurse told the family their mother had an amazing death. “She knew she was dying,”
the nurse said, “and told me, ‘Jesus is coming to take me now’.”
After praying the Lord’s Prayer, Mrs Lowe said “Jesus is here now”. Her nurse replied, “Well, you go with him Milly”, and she did.
Believing becomes important.
Believing becomes special.
Jesus said: “I give you my body. I give you my whole self.” He did, and he rose again. Bishop Lowe said he believes this, and asked the congregation if they,too, believe.
Do they believe in the God who, when the Earth was a formless void, said let there be light, and there was light?
Do they believe in a God who saved his people, Israel, by parting the Red Sea and leading them out from slavery into the Promised Land?
A God who feels in people’s hearts and changes those hearts? A God who gave humanity his own Son who said, “This is my body given for you”. In Jesus — who suffered, died and rose again on
the third day?
Six Hamiltonians said they did and were received into the Catholic Church at the cathedral’s Easter Vigil Mass.
by KATHLEEN CASEY
Holy Week and Easter ceremonies drew crowds to churches, halls and Mass centres in what is still a broken city.
While Easter brought rejoicing, for many priests the reality in Christchurch is challenging. Fr Dan Doyle in Ferrymead parish, which has a non-usable church, said Holy Thursday Mass at St
Anne’s hall in Woolston, stations on Good Friday in the Woolston school grounds, the afternoon service on Good Friday at the multi-purpose Mass centre in churchless Sumner, Saturday evening
an ecumenical service at St John’s Anglican church in Woolston. Then there was 8.30am Easter Sunday service at Sumner and 10.30 at Woolston. “I go overseas on the ferry,” said Fr Dan with humour, “for the 5.30pm Mass at Diamond Harbour.”
How does he find so much moving around? “Very, very challenging: It’s difficult relocating all the time.” On the church: “We have another group of engineers making a further assessment.”
Previous parishes of Beckenham and Addington have recently formed the new parish of Sancta Maria, named after Bishop Pompallier’s ship.
Fr Paul Craddock said: “I am beginning to expect everything …” as churches at Sacred Heart, Addington, and St Peter’s, Beckenham, were packed.
With ceremonies also at the local Carmelite monastery, the parish had three parallels of the Sacred Triduum, said Fr Craddock. There was also the normal ecumenical service with Presbyterian and Methodist churches, very well attended.
He had his mates in mind. “We are praying for the displaced with munted churches, still having to celebrate liturgies in church halls. It is the suffering of Good Friday.” In speaking to the Methodist minister he learnt of their three churches, two of which were not willing to merge, so each church will have to find tens of thousands of dollars to bring their churches up to earthquake code.
St Joseph’s parish at Bishopdale incorporates the former congregation from Papanui where the church had to be razed. St Gregory’s is an accommodating and attractive church and venue
Christchurch and was packed to every door in every space. Seven people received into the
church and one baptism brought out the reality of Easter.
Fr Francis Kelly is parish priest of both Leeston and Lincoln. He does not have the gift of bilocation so in one parish each ceremony was conducted by lay people. On Good Friday an ecumenical service included a small service in Lincoln at each of the Catholic, Union and Anglican churches. All were well attended and three school children were baptised at Lincoln.
As the prison chaplain saying Mass there during Holy Week, Fr Kelly said: “I invited those present to repeat the words of the good thief on the cross: ‘Jesus remember me when you come
into your kingdom.’ Those two were prisoners.”
St Francis of Assisi at Mairehau was bursting at the seams and had two baptisms on Easter Sunday. The choir excelled and brought the usual strong applause for their rendition of Handel’s Halleluia chorus after the vigil. The attentiveness evident now in church dates
from the earthquakes, when all realised how precious is our faith.