North Shore community likened to early Church

Fr Nathaniel Tat Brazil with some of the members of the St John Paul II Catholic Community, Albany, before lockdown

The St John Paul II Catholic community in Albany, Auckland was challenged to live as missionary disciples, as they celebrated their tenth anniversary with a Mass on Zoom on October 31, 2021.  

Msgr David Tonks celebrated the Mass with Fr Ephrem Tigga, Fr Nathaniel Brazil concelebrating and  Deacon Mark Napa carrying out his liturgical ministry.  

The community, which is under the care of the St Joseph’s parish in Takapuna, began as a tertiary chaplaincy at Massey University, which was being looked after by then-tertiary chaplain Fr Sam Pulanco.  

Msgr Tonks, in his homily, said Fr Pulanco found a few students at Massey University who were eager to grow in faith, but couldn’t go to Sunday Mass because of the unavailability of transport.   

“So, Fr Sam invited, cajoled, hassled, encouraged, whatever word you might like to use as Fr Sam can do, a group of people whom he knew in the vicinity on the North Shore to come and support these university students at their Sunday Mass. And from this, the St John Paul II community at Albany was born. Isn’t it amazing?,” he said.  

Msgr Tonks said the community reminds him of the early Christian community in Acts 2:42, which stated that the disciples devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of the bread and prayer. He also added outreach to the poor and needy.  

“But I want to tell you this. When the community was established, John Paul II was only blessed. Now, he is saint. Does that also challenge you . . .  to be a community on journey, on pilgrimage, growing from simply being blessed to being saints?” he said.  

Msgr Tonks said the way to becoming saints, according to the Scriptures and Pope Francis, is to “Let the way that the Lord shapes us be lived out there”, and “by allowing the Lord who is in us [to] spill out”.  

He said that, when Jesus went to Jerusalem, the Lord cleared the Temple of those who were using it as a marketplace. Jesus also touched the heart of a scribe, so that there was an “extraordinary moment of transformation that comes to the scribe”.  

Jesus, said Msgr Tonks, talked about his dad and the love of his dad for everyone.  

“’He’s the God that watches over all of us. He’s the God who is there for us day by day. Love my dad. And when you do, you experience life.’ And then, he (Jesus) looks at the scribe, and he looks at all the other people around him, and he says, ‘you’re not just simply strangers. You’re my brothers and sisters. You’re my family. Love my family. Love Dad, our God and love one another’,” the monsignor said.  

After this, the scribe realised that Jesus did not merely quote the commandments, “but actually talked about what shaped his being”, Msgr Tonks explained.  

“If we’re going to be moving as people from blessed to saints, we’ve got try to be like Jesus, allowing our very beings to be shaped by the teaching of the teachings of the apostles, the Word of God, the breaking of the bread and prayer, the fellowship, and our service to one another,” he said.  

Fr Nathaniel Brazil is currently the chaplain of the community. Before Fr Brazil, Fr Christopher Brady was given the care of the community. 

 

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Rowena Orejana

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