Moving on after 18 years of inner-city ministry


St Patrick Cathedral had been home for the past 18 years, but Msgr Bernard Kiely was ready to move on. The Auckland diocese vicar-general moved to Balmoral parish in February. “I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet!,” he said  of the move in an interview in January. “I’ve lived in this house longer than I have anywhere. It’s home.”

“I’m ready for a change however and I think St Pat’s is ready for new energy and renewed enthusiasm that comes with change,” Msgr Kiely said.

Pa Peter Tipene was appointed as the new administrator at the cathedral. “ [Pa Tipene] is an energetic pastor, loves people and celebrates the liturgy with sincerity and enthusiasm,” said Msgr Kiely.

He had just returned from an overseas study in 1999 when Bishop Patrick Dunn asked him (Msgr Kiely) to be administrator of the cathedral.

“I felt very honoured although somewhat overwhelmed. I was ordained just six years. I’d never been a parish priest! Yet there was a sense of ‘coming home’,” Msgr Kiely said.

One of the highlights of Msgr Kiely’s administration was the $12.8 million restoration
of the cathedral in 2005. It lasted for two years which included strengthening of the building and re-roofing with its original slate.

He recalled with amusement how Bishop Dunn gave him (Msgr Kiely) this

“As I was leaving his office Bishop Pat commented, ‘By the way, the cathedral is
in need of restoration’. Little did I know what I was in for,” he recalled.

Msgr Kiely said the restoration project would not have been possible without the
dedication of Cathedral Heritage Foundation chairman Gregory Shanahan and secretary Kevin Sherlock.

“The 1888 presbytery restoration is due to commence this year. The diocese owes them a debt of gratitude for their determination and energy,” said Msgr Kiely.

He also thanked the different assistant priests who worked with him as well as the “great staff including the indefatigable Sr Mary Neven, RSM”.

The cathedral attracts thousands of people each week and rarely is it empty.

During his time, Msgr Kiely made sure it is accessible to “people of all faiths and

“Our underlying belief is that here in this place, in the heart of New Zealand’s  largest and busiest city God has pitched his tent. And he’s here to stay! Our mantra, as it were, is that the cathedral is ‘the House of God, an icon of Christ, the Mother Church, a place of prayer, an oasis of peace’.”

As a fifth-generation inner-city dweller, St Patrick’s had always been the spiritual
home of Msgr Kiely’s family.

“As a child I’d visit with my grandmother and light a candle. It was always first call when one got off the Farmer’s free bus that came up Wyndham St. The playground of the roof of Farmers was very much a part of a child’s experience of the great department store that operated in Hobson St . . . But not before we paid a visit to St Pats!,” he said.

It was at St Pat’s where he would meet up with Msgr Brian Arahill, former cathedral
administrator, to talk about his (Msgr Kiely’s) priestly paths.

“I’ve loved my time here and overwhelmingly I know I have a deep sense of gratitude for having the opportunity to minister and be a part of the story of our great cathedral. My sincere and heartfelt thanks go to all who have supported and encouraged me over the years,” he said.

Msgr Kiely said he is looking forward to a change in pace and also hoping to spend more time with his father who recently suffered a stroke.

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Rowena Orejana

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