Fr Nicholas Alleman, a priest in the Auckland diocese for almost 60 years, passed away on October 23, after a long illness. He was 91.
A requiem Mass was celebrated at St Patrick’s church in Panmure on October 26, with 10 priests attending, in line, as much as possible, with the pandemic Alert Level 3 step one protocols.
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn thanked those who were present, as well as those who were watching the Mass livestreamed on the St Patrick’s, Panmure facebook page.
“It seems strange to be farewelling such a wonderful priest in this rather unusual situation with just ten or so present, because we could have filled this church with parishioners who knew Fr Nick and loved him and were grateful to him for the support,” Bishop Dunn said.
“It seems a bit sad to be having such a quiet celebration but, on the other hand, I think, Nick would have quite liked it that way because he didn’t like a big fuss.”
The bishop said Fr Alleman would have been “infinitely thrilled” with the attendance of Emeritus Bishop Denis Browne, who was ordained with Fr Alleman in 1962.
Bishop Dunn said Fr Alleman was born on St Patrick’s Day in 1930 in the Netherlands. He was one of ten children.
Fr Alleman was about 10 years old when German forces invaded his country. Germany occupied the Netherlands during his early teen years.
Bishop Dunn said this must have had a huge impact on his life.
“He never spoke to me much about that, but on one occasion, in Warkworth, he showed me the pantry in the presbytery. He opened the pantry and said, ‘come and have a look at this’. And on the shelves of the pantry were cans and cans of food and packaged food. He said, ‘I know this is a bit silly, but I have such a memory of the food shortages of the war, I like to be well-stocked just in case’,” Bishop Dunn related.
The bishop said Fr Alleman arrived in New Zealand in 1952 as part of a wave of Dutch migrants looking for a better life.
Fr Alleman was a tailor, but he heard the call to priesthood. He went to Holy Cross Seminary in Mosgiel.
After his ordination, Fr Alleman had 11 appointments in his first 13 years as priest, which Bishop Dunn found curious.
“I think it was because he was probably a little older than the other newly-ordained priests, and the archbishop [Liston] would have realised he was a stable pair of hands,” Bishop Dunn said. “Also, he was willing to go.”
Later, Fr Alleman was appointed to the parishes of Beach Haven, Howick, Warkworth, Dargaville and Point Chevalier.
When he was 75, he went to Liston Village as chaplain. Five years later, he moved to St John Vianney House. At age 87, he transferred to Mercy Parklands.
“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful care he received from the nursing staff at Mercy Parklands,” Bishop Dunn said.
The bishop said Fr Alleman epitomised the vast majority of our priests who just carried on with their work.
“They’re just there all the time, year in, year out, faithfully looking after those entrusted to their care,” Bishop Dunn said.
“So today, we thank you Fr Nick, for over 60 years of faithful service. A faithful and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. And we pray that you now enjoy the fruits of your labour.”