NZ rededicated to ‘Mary Assumed into Heaven’

Cardinal Dew blesses the nation from outside St Mary of the Angels church.

The Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have renewed this country’s dedication to Mary, Mother of God, Assumed into Heaven. 

The renewal of this dedication, and of the dedication of the mission of the Church in this country, took place during a Mass celebrated at St Mary of the Angels church in Wellington on August 15. 

During the times of Covid-19 in this country last year, the New Zealand bishops received requests to make such a dedication to Our Lady, and they decided to renew the dedications made by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier in 1838. 

Outside St Mary of the Angels church (from left) Cardinal John Dew, Bishop Michael Gielen, Bishop Michael Dooley, Archbishop Paul Martin, Bishop Stephen Lowe, Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa (Photos: NZCBC).

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, joined Cardinal John Dew, Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington Archbishop Paul Martin, Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe, Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley and Auckland Auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen in celebrating the Mass in Wellington. 

In his homily, Cardinal Dew said that, in letters received by the bishops during last year’s lockdown, there were many suggested

titles of Our Lady under which the country could be dedicated.  

“And there were suggestions that, if the country had been dedicated to her, that the pandemic wouldn’t have even occurred,” the Cardinal said. 

“We know that Mary is not a magician. But that is how today’s renewal of the dedication came about — under the title of Mary Assumed into Heaven.” 

Cardinal Dew stressed that the Assumption is a day of hope for all of humanity. 

It highlights “the unbelievable dignity of our human bodies”.  

Mary as “the first disciple”, was “the first to be welcomed body and soul, assumed into heaven”. 

Referring to Catholic belief in the Resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting, Cardinal Dew said: “We are created to be with God, and when we live our lives with that intention, we come to know something of the presence of God in our lives as Mary did.” 

“So the Assumption is about each of us — it is about our future.” 

The cardinal noted that people’s prayer that day is not only that Aotearoa New Zealand will be protected, but “we pray that people all over the world will be protected, particularly at this time, from the coronavirus”.  

“It would be selfish of us to think only of Aotearoa. During this pandemic we pray for everyone’s safety. We pray that everyone will have the wisdom to keep themselves safe, and therefore keep others safe.” 

Cardinal Dew added: “And as we think of the sad situations in the world today, and even, I suppose in a particular way, the sad situations that many women in the world face, we know that we are called to live in hope, and hold out hope to others. 

“Think today of the women overwhelmed by the weight of life and the drama of violence, women who are slaves to arrogance, the arrogance of the powerful. Girls forced into inhumane work in different parts of the world, women forced 
to surrender in body and spirit to the greed of men. 

“Our prayer today is for a life of peace, justice and love to reach those women especially, in expectation of the day when finally they will feel gripped by hands that don’t intimidate them, but hands that lead them into the tender presence of God. 

“So Mary helps us, particularly to think of women who suffer greatly — we ask the Lord to lead them by the hand on the way of life, freeing them from slavery and giving them hope. We pray that for everyone.” 

He concluded his homily by saying that, “when we strive to live and love by his Word as Mary did, we know that we will have inner peace, and we will share that peace of God with others”.  

During the Mass at St Mary of the Angels,  an artwork specially commissioned to honour Mary was unveiled and blessed. 

The artwork will tour New Zealand as part of Te Hīkoi Wairua mo Te Ara a Maria, before being permanently housed at St Mary of the Angels church which will become a National Shrine, with a dedication on August 15, 2022.  

Other liturgical features at the August 15 Mass were a Samoan ifoga ceremony at the penitential rite, a sprinkling of the congregation with water, as well as a sprinkling of water for the land outside the church, and the Sign of Peace given in New Zealand Sign Language. 

Every Catholic parish throughout the country also celebrated the rededication during their regular Sunday Masses. 

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Michael Otto

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