by KATE MAHONY
People from four Wellington South parishes gathered on Pentecost Sunday to celebrate the naming of their new combined parish.
The new parish, to operate from February next year, will be called Wellington South in the meantime, but approval has been given for it to be named parish of Blessed Suzanne Aubert, and thence, on sainthood being granted to Suzanne, parish of St Suzanne Aubert.
The four parishes making up the new parish are St Anne’s, Newtown, St Bernard’s, Brooklyn, St Francis de Sales, Island Bay, and St Joseph’s, Mt Victoria.
The Wellington South parish describes itself as “from the coast to the harbour”, andthe booklet for the service included a number of pictures of the wild and beautiful south Wellington coast.
St Patrick’s College Hall in Kilbirnie was packed for the service that featured many different cultural aspects reflecting the diverse nature of the four constituent parishes.
St Patrick’s College rector Neal Swindells gave the mihi and welcome in Maori at the start of Mass. Hymns were sung in English, Samoan, and Maori.
Before the Liturgy of the Word, the Scriptures were carried to the sanctuary in a Samoan
ceremony known as (in English) Enthronement of the Word, with matais as guards of honour. The matais held a to’oto’o (staff) a sign of authority and power and bore on their shoulders
the fue (fly whisks), a symbol of vision, both being symbols of an orator’s office.
The prayers of intercession were said in Te Reo Maori, Samoan, Filipino, Italian, Vietnamese,
Spanish, Polish and English.
Members of the combined children’s liturgies presented the gifts, with members of the Samoan
community presenting lei to the celebrants and decorating the altar with lei. A karanga after the Consecration was in Te Reo Maori.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Msgr Gerard Burns encouraged the congregation to follow
the South American custom and to shout, Viva in response to the final prayers.
Celebrating Pentecost Sunday, red clothing was in abundance among the congregation.
Concelebrating the Mass with presider Fr Denis Nacorda were eucharistic celebrants from the Wellington South pastoral area: Msgr Gerard Burns, Fr David Dowling and Fr Jeff Drane.
Pupils from St Anne’s, St Bernard’s and St Francis de Sales primary schools performed a liturgical dance after Communion.
Fittingly in a service to announce the name for the new parish, a naming ceremony of a different kind also took place.
Lay pastoral leader Karen Holland asked Maurice and Natalie Atkinson, the parents of baby Tessa Grace, being presented for Baptism, what names they had chosen for her.
Later in the service, Msgr Burns baptised Tessa, who was presented with a korowai as the white garment normally bestowed during Baptism.
Following the Mass, Kevin Lampen-Smith, joint chairperson of the Pastoral Area Transition Team, with Lesley Hooper, said the team had been working on the formation of the new parish since the
announcement by then Archbishop (now Cardinal) John Dew in October 2013.
Parish congregations in the area had been involved through workshops and discussion groups.
Although the new parish will not formally operate until 2016, having a name in advance meant the parishes could unify around it. Ahead lies the formation of a new leadership team. “We are going to get things in place before 2016 and get the foundations right. The critical thing is you don’t form a parish by committee, and you don’t finish the job on February 1 next year,” Mr
The new parish meant so much opportunity, he said, as opposed to an arduous journey.
Other areas in Greater Wellington have already formed combined parishes. The process was staggered so that those did not occur all at the one time.