The Parish of St Thomas Aquinas in Tauranga recently honoured 89-year-old Arie Bekx for his dedicated service in promoting Catholic publications, particularly NZ Catholic.
Mr Bekx said he had been promoting Catholic publications for 40 years, “if not more”.
The parish gave Mr Bekx a plaque of appreciation at the final Mass he attended at St Mary Immaculate Church in Tauranga on November 4, before he relocated to Hamilton.
Mr Bekx had been selling Catholic publications at St Mary’s church for more than 12 years. Before coming to Tauranga, he also sold the paper in his previous parishes of Te Awamutu and Huntly.
In recent times, Mr Bekx took responsibility upon himself for door sales of the paper at the parish, after the order was stopped. At the same time, parishioners were also encouraged by the parish to take out subscriptions. The parish also supported the paper through Facebook.
Mr Bekx bought copies of NZ Catholic (at a discounted rate) and sold them himself.
“That’s really my purpose, to promote NZ Catholic. Because NZ Catholic is a proper newspaper,” he said. “But people don’t realise that. To them, it’s just another religious paper. Therefore, they need education on that.”
Mr Bekx explained that people wouldn’t know what the newspaper is about unless they are exposed to it. So, he greeted people before Mass while selling the paper.
Mr Bekx’s daughter, Jaquelina Sorensen, said selling NZ Catholic is the kind of thing that her father would do. “He’s so sweet,” she said.
She added that Mr Bekx’s life had always been one of service to the faith.
Mr Bekx was the first to sell fair trade goods in Te Awamutu out of the boot of his car in the 1980’s. He later set up the Trade Aid store in the area, which closed down in July this year.
“He is constantly thinking of the missions and spreading the faith,” Mrs Sorensen said. “He’s a very holy man and his prayers are incredible.”
Mr Bekx said he was pleased that the parish had given him a farewell.
“It’s very nice, I have to say. In all parishes I was before, I left before they knew I was leaving for the reason that I didn’t want any fuss,” he said. “I couldn’t get away with it with Fr Mark (Field).”
Mr Bekx recently retired to Assisi Home and Hospital in Hamilton. NZ Catholic was able to interview him with the assistance of Sr Jocelyn Wilson, RSM.
He plans to keep selling the paper at the rest home.