New Auckland home for theological college

3 Areti at St Columba

Te Kupenga-Catholic Theological College is to move its Auckland campus to the St Columba Centre on Vermont St in Ponsonby, next to the Holy Cross Seminary.

Te Kupenga chief executive Dr Areti Metuamate said the move is slated for February next year, before the next school opening.

“The [Auckland] diocese, which owns this building, has given us some parameters within which we would be able to base here,” he said. “What we are going to do now is to finalise what the actual break-up of the building will look like. We have to create some office space inside.”

Dr Metuamate said the property is actually bigger that the present campus on Ponsonby Rd.

“The one that is on Ponsonby Rd [formerly Good Shepherd College] is going to be sold. That building is owned 50 per cent by the Marists and 50 per cent by the bishops,” he said.

Dr Metuamate said the Vermont St building’s structure cannot be touched, because it is a special heritage building.

The way it is laid out already lends itself to lecture rooms, he said. But there is a need to create office spaces for the staff, as well as make the basement suitable for the Colin Library’s use.

Dr Metuamate also said they are working closely with Holy Cross `Seminary.

“We want a partnership where we can share some space,” he explained. “As part of the remediation of their admin block, we are working on possibly having some office space in there. Likewise, if the seminary wants to use our lecture theatres in the evening, if there’s an event that they want to host then, of course, they can.”

He said he is working with the seminary rector to make this happen.

Programmes

Dr Metuamate said former CTC dean Fr Merv Duffy, SM, and new dean Dr John Evangelista, are working on developing new programmes that will reach out to different communities.

Their first project is a leadership programme for Catholic school principals and school leaders.

“Our leadership programme will be focused on strengthening leaders to be good Catholic leaders in schools. I really want to empower and provide support to our Catholic school principals and deputy principals, and for all these people to have the same opportunities for education and professional development that everyone else does,” he said.

He noted there is a new generation of school principals, and there is a need to support them.

“In the universities, you’re getting training in education to support you to be a teacher, to support you to become a leader in the educational context, but there’s not a Catholic element to it. Only we can really add that,” he said.

Dr Metuamate said he is also keen to develop a Māori katekita (catechist) programme, with the aim of invigorating Māori spirituality.

He said that, in the early days of the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, the katekita were often leaders in the community, trained to lead the prayers in the Māori language, so people could participate.

Their numbers have dwindled in the intervening years.

“The role of katekita, I think, is really important, because with the limited number of Māori priests that we have now, you’re not seeing your face reflected in the people speaking, preaching and leading. Katekita is one way we could support that,” he said.

“By having more katekita around the country, I believe, that would bring more Māori people to engage heavily in the Church, [and] bring more people back to the Church, too.”

Dr Metuamate said the CTC is looking at having more in-person seminars as well, which will also be livestreamed to attract more people.

In the meantime, the National Centre for Religious Studies, under Colin McLeod, is working on the new Religious Education curriculum, and is in the process of consulting with religious educators across the country, Dr Metuamate said.

Vaccination

He also announced that the Nathaniel Centre will soon start an information campaign around vaccination.

“There’s a lot of misinformation. There [are] a lot of conspiracy theories. And there are also a lot of people who are confused,” Dr Metuamate said.

“That’s understandable, because it is a complex issue. But while it is a complex issue, we also, as a Church, have an obligation to inform people around making safe decisions, not only for themselves but for their families and communities,” he said.

Dr Metuamate said the Nathaniel Centre, under Dr John Kleinsman, is preparing information at “both ends of the scale”.

“Some will have detailed information so people can understand — how does having this vaccine impact on my faith? Are we encouraging testing on foetuses? We’ll have that material available,” he said.

He said there will also be material that will simply address the concerns of the people.

“Many people don’t want to understand the details. They only want to know: ‘Is it safe and am I going against my faith taking it?’,” he
said.

The Nathaniel Centre, the bioethics centre of the Church in New Zealand, takes the position that the research says the vaccine is safe, and that the Pope and the bishops support Catholic people getting vaccinated.

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Rowena Orejana

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