by PETER GRACE
A former accountant and general manager of Dunedin diocese was ordained to the priesthood in Morrinsville on October 10.
Stuart Young grew up as a Presbyterian and attended St Kentigern’s College in Auckland. While there, he told NZ Catholic before his ordination to the priesthood, he had a religious experience on a school camp, but life got
in the way and, 12 years later, he met Shona.
Shona was Catholic, and after they became engaged he suggested to her that they make life simple. “I don’t mind becoming a Catholic — I quite like the Church.”
They lived in Morrinsville and he worked at Power Farming.
“We got married in 1988. . . . And then we had three kids over about the next five years.”
In the late 1980s he got on the RCIA team and eventually became an RCIA catechist.
He was heavily involved in the school for about 15 years, about 13 of those as board of trustees chairman of St Joseph’s Primary School.
Power Farming kept growing, ending up with big interests in Australia “and I was going backwards and forwards across the Ditch and . . . it was not the same business I had started in,” Fr Young said.
Shona came across an advertisement for a general manager for Dunedin and said, “This looks interesting.” And so, in 2006, he became GM for Dunedin diocese.
“We shifted from Morrinsville, leaving behind a daughter who was starting a degree at the University of Waikato.”
He was the first general manager the diocese had had, Fr Young said. “They had just had an accountant basically, before.”
However, Bishop Colin Campbell was very supportive.
The family had three years in Dunedin before Shona got sick with leukaemia. “She had a bone marrow transfusion,
and unfortunately had a complication,” Fr Young said.
The couple were driving to Christchurch in 2011 for a transfusion for Shona the day Christchurch’s second big
earthquake struck. So that transfusion never happened. “She got an infection and died in April 2011.”
About four or five months later, the Lord led him to go on a pilgrimage with Msgr David Tonks, “The Footsteps
of St Paul”.
“And then I just came back and worked in Dunedin and, of course, as you go through grief and through other emotions, you tend to be more attentive to what the Lord is saying to you; so I worked with Fr Mark Chamberlain,” he said.
In the autumn of 2012, he asked Bishop Denis Browne of Hamilton diocese if he would consider letting him go forward as a seminarian. “And he said that would be fine, as long as I continued working with Fr Mark.”
The bishop sent Fr Young to the seminary in 2013, by way of the accelerated late vocations stream.
“Bishop Denis said to me provided I achieved a Bachelor of Theology, he would be happy to ordain me.”
Fr Young said he had already done relevant study in the previous 12 years and had a Diploma of Pastoral Ministry. “So I was lucky in the end I managed to to cross credit about half a degree, so it meant in about two years I was able to complete the degree.”
Seminary staff and Bishop Denis encouraged him to make Shona part of the ministry.
Fr Mark Chamberlain, who did his discernment preparation, had spent time with Shona in his role as hospital chaplain. She had told Fr Mark that if she died, Stuart would become a priest.
“So the seminary was really good, and [Bishop] Steve Lowe said, “You need to plant Shona into what you do”.
In 2014 Bishop Browne sent him to Morrinsville, where he not only carried out pastoral work but oversaw the building of the new parish church.