Kerikeri couple honoured by Pope

20 Kerikeri group

by WIGA AUTET

Pope Francis has made awards of Benemerenti medals to Bernard and Enid Honiss, for their service and contributions for more than 100 combined years to the Catholic Church, Auckland diocese, their parish, family, Catholic school, youth, and community.

Bishop Denis Browne – who was trained by the young Bernard (known as Bunny) as an altar server some 77  years ago – was pleased to reconnect with his old friend for such an occasion, and to present the medals and certificates on behalf of Pope Francis during Mass at Holy Family church, Kerikeri, on October 11. The couple has also been honoured with a special apostolic blessing celebrating their 60 years of marriage.

Bunny, having started to serve the Church at age of 7 (as an altar boy at St Michael’s, Remuera), has not stopped his selfless and devoted service ever since, and has never missed Sunday Mass. Today, although almost 91 years old, every Sunday he continues relentlessly – welcoming parishioners, handing out the newsletter and organising the collection.

In his early years, he was involved in the Otaki convent school, supporting youth, parish and the local community. He then found himself involved in parishes in Wellington and Levin. During his 10 years in Paraparaumu Beach, Bunny assisted the local parish council, the Christian Family Movement, parish finances and various Church activities. When, as a married couple, Bunny and Enid moved to Kerikeri in 1973, they (together with Maureen Clare and others) were instrumental in starting up a new parish and planning for a new church. Bunny had served on the newly-established Holy Family Parish Council for 22 years in various roles (1983-2005). For more than 30 years – with great love, energy, and passion – he also served on Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) Pastoral Council and represented it – for three successive terms – on the diocesan pastoral council. Enid, gently and steadfastly, has always supported and worked alongside her husband. She edited the Holy Family parish newsletter for more than 13 years, and was looking after their growing family.

Today – after 60 years of married life – they are parents of seven, grandparents of 14 (grandsons only!), and great-grandparents of four (with one more on the way). Asked about the “magic” that has made their marriage last that long, Enid – jokingly – stated that you need to marry the right person in the first place, but more seriously, said that loyalty, sticking together and doing things together – though not necessarily “magical” – can be an answer. For Bunny – it is “being together all the time” that makes married life last.

The sentiment of many in the parish is – Happy Diamond Wedding Anniversary, Enid and Bunny – and may God continue to bless your marriage with love, joy and companionship for all the years still to come. God bless you both.

  • Wiga Autet is faith formation coordinator for Northland, Catholic Diocese of Auckland
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