by NZ CATHOLIC staff
The Society of Mary is to scale back its support of Hato Paora College near Feilding.
This comes as a consequence of the society’s decision to withdraw from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Palmerston North at the end of 2015.
Currently, Fr Matthew Crawford, SM, ministers fulltime at Hato Paora and lives in the Marist community at Our Lady of Lourdes.
Marist Fathers provincial Fr David Kennerley said in a letter to Marist priests and brothers that the society hopes to continue to support Hato Paora College into the future.
But this will not be with as significant a presence as it has had up to this point, he wrote.
The withdrawal from Our Lady of Lourdes comes after 14 years of service there.
The Marists had also provided chaplaincy to St Peter’s College in Palmerston North.
In a letter announcing the move, Bishop Charles Drennan paid tribute to the Marist community at Our Lady of Lourdes.
It is their “vibrant and generous and varied ministry that we will all miss the most”, he said.
But he said he recognised with sadness “the society’s need to allocate their men elsewhere in the mission of the Church”.
Bishop Drennan thanked the Marists for agreeing to make their change public now.
“The reason for my request was that I realised I could not openly enter into conversations and dialogue about pastoral planning for Manawatu, while ‘sitting on’ information that was so central to the mix of factors coming into play.”
The bishop gave an assurance that every effort would be made to ensure the ministry the Marists offered would be continued in new ways.
He told NZ Catholic that it is important to note that, while the Marists will leave Palmerston North city, they have not left the diocese, and have a strong presence in Napier and Wairoa.
He added that there may be a retired Marist who will continue to live in Palmerston North city.