Lack of staff limit clergy moves in PN diocese

A priest prepares to distribute Communion during Mass in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal John Dew, apostolic administrator of Palmerston North diocese, announced clergy appointments in the diocese, saying he is
limiting the changes because of “staffing challenges” that will impact the provision of Masses and pastoral care.

“I hope this gives everyone the bigger picture. Changes will need to be made when it comes to local planning and sharing resources, including
priests. We cannot provide all the Masses and pastoral care as we have known it. These changes will impact all our parishes,” he said in a letter
to priests and parish leaders.

The cardinal said the situation was already complex with Fr Freddie Barte returning home to the Philippines, and Msgr Brian Walsh retiring
from full-time ministry last year.  Early this year, another priest will return home to the Philippines and another priest will retire.

Another international priest is expected to return home during the year, while a senior priest is on leave.

“As you can imagine, we have had some difficult choices to make. Because the diocese is awaiting the appointment of a new bishop, we
have limited clergy changes to a minimum,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Dew announced that Fr Adonis Rancho will be returning home to the Philippines, and Fr Bernard O’Donnell will retire from Ohakune-Taihape parish.

Fr Robin Kurian, IC, will be appointed parish priest of St Mary’s in Palmerston North.

Fr Peter Brockhill will serve Marton, Ohakune, Taihape parishes and Waiouru military base.

Fr Joseph Saw Tha Khu will be based in Stratford and will serve collaboratively with Fr Craig Butler (Hawera) across the South Taranaki region,
including Stratford, Kaponga, Eltham, Hawera,  Patea and Waverley.

Cardinal Dew pointed out that priests in Palmerston North diocese will care for multiple parishes and church communities, with a lot of ground to cover.

“I know you will be understanding when it comes to change, and I encourage you to support your priests as they care for you. None of this is
easy, and I cannot see it getting any easier in the immediate future,” he said.


In the meantime, Cardinal Dew has announced the following clergy appointments for 2022 for the Archdiocese of Wellington, effective from
February 1, 2022:

Fr Michael McCabe will be the parish priest of Te Whetu o Te Moana — Our Lady Star of the Sea, Marlborough, while Fr Raymond Soriano will be
parish priest of Te Whaea Tapu o Kāpiti — Our Lady of Kāpiti.

At Holy Family parish (Nelson, Stoke), Fr Marlon Tebelin was appointed parish priest. Fr Joy Thottankara will become assistant priest
at Te Awakairangi (Lower Hutt, Avalon, Naenae) until he leaves New Zealand for an appointment in the Diocese of Metuchen, USA.

Deacon Alfred Tong will serve his pastoral placement at Holy Trinity (Kilbirnie, Miramar, Seatoun, and Strathmore) from mid-year when
his seminary formation finishes, while seminarian Matthew White’s pastoral placement will be at the Catholic Parish of Ōtari (Karori, Wilton).

Cardinal Dew said that the provincial of the Passionist Congregation has informed the archdiocese they are no longer able to provide priestly
service to the Parish of Our Lady of the Sea.

“I record with deep gratitude to those of the Passionist Congregation who have served in Marlborough over the years,” Cardinal John wrote. “In
the meantime, Fr Jaco Kuman, CP, will stay on for  a few weeks,” he said.

The cardinal also said this will be Fr Paul Finlayson’s (SSC) last year of ministry in the archdiocese. As from 2023, it is likely there will
be only one priest available for Our Lady of the Bays parish.

“I am most grateful to Fr Paul and to the Columbans for his ministry,” the cardinal said.

The archdiocese will have one deacon and four seminarians at various stages of formation in 2022. They are Alfred Tong, Matthew White,
Kinh Nguyen, Emilio Capin and Gerson Badayos.


Last month, then-Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn announced the appointments of priests in the diocese. It was one of the last few responsibilities he discharged as Bishop of Auckland.

Fr Falaniko Leota was appointed as supply priest to Blockhouse Bay with Fr Ephrem Tigga, OFMCap, as parish priest from late February.

Fr James Walsh had been appointed assistant priest at Hibiscus Coast.

The Manurewa parish will have Fr Kevin Murphy, SM, as assistant parish priest.

Fr Mario Dorado, OFMCap, was appointed parish priest of Newton.

Fr Soane Lomu, SM, will become assistant parish priest at Otara/Clover Park.

Fr Andrew Matthew was moved to Papatoetoe as parish priest, with Fr Albert Suprapto as assistant.

Fr Stephen Berecz will be the parish priest of Parnell.

Fr Thomas Park was moved to Pukekohe as assistant priest.

Newly-ordained Fr Mark Napa was appointed assistant parish priest of Takapuna.

Fr Brian Prendeville, SM, will become Whangarei’s parish priest.

Meanwhile, Fr Mathew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil will replace Fr Brendan Ward as rector of Holy Cross Seminary. Fr Ward will be returning to

Fr John Allardyce, SM, will be moving to St John Vianney House.

The following priests are leaving the diocese: Fr Chris Martin, SM, to the Marist Community in Napier, Fr Francis Poon eventually to complete
post-graduate studies in Canada, and Fr Kerry Prendeville, SM, to become superior of the Marist Community at Nazareth Care, Christchurch.

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