“May all who enter this place of learning be conformed more deeply to Christ, the true shepherd of souls, the one who calls us to know him, to love him and to follow him.”
So prayed Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe as he officially blessed the new Auckland site of Te Kupenga-Catholic Theological College in Vermont St, Ponsonby.
CTC’s new Auckland home is a refurbished St Columba Centre, next to Holy Cross Seminary. The funding for the refurbishment came from the sale to the Society of Mary of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference’s half share in the former Good Shepherd College site on Ponsonby Rd. The funds are also being used in the remediation of leaky building issues at the seminary.
Asking God’s blessing on the new theologate site, Bishop Lowe prayed that “the learning and the teaching that will happen in this place will be blessed by the movement of your Holy Spirit”.
“May all who enter this place as students and staff come out enriched and enthused more deeply for the mission which you lay on our hearts,” the bishop prayed.
Earlier, during his homily at a Mass at Sacred Heart church, Ponsonby, Bishop Lowe said that “some years ago, the bishops had a big decision to make about the future of Holy Cross Seminary”.
“The decision was made to remediate Holy Cross Seminary because we felt that, if the seminary went, that would also endanger Catholic Theological College, and we are absolutely committed to forming priests and lay men and women for the service of the Gospel in our own country, for our own mission,” he said.
In 2020, the cost of the remediation of the seminary was estimated at $7.6million.
Bishop Lowe thanked the faculty and the board of Catholic Theological College – Te Kupenga, for the work that they do, “a work that is critical for the mission of the Church”.
He expressed the hope that the learning done by students on the new site will be brought into their own personal relationship with the Lord and in their relationships with the people they will serve.
“All of us are learning, day by day, who Jesus is, as he calls us step by step ever deeper into the mystery of his life and love, into the mystery of who he is,” Bishop Lowe preached.
“And it is a mystery that is at the heart of the theological college that we will bless today. Its whole work, its whole purpose, it ordered to bringing people into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus, our Shepherd.”
Bishop Lowe’s preaching touched on themes of mission, discipleship, humility and shepherding.
He spoke of the challenge of speaking boldly in a world in which there are so many voices, while, at the same time, being in a world where there are many opportunities.
“The Lord has commanded us, when he said I have made you a light for the nations. So that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.
“That is our work as we gather today to bless a new building. But more important than blessing a new building is that we ask God’s blessing on us, so that we might be true shepherds, whether it is in a parish, a school, a family home, a workplace – that each of us might shepherd people to Christ, so that Christ might empower them to be shepherds in their own lands.”
After the Mass, those present, including Archbishop Paul Martin, SM, Bishop Michael Gielen and Bishop Patrick Dunn, processed to the entrance of St Columba Centre, where the official blessing took place. There, the chair of Te Kupenga Catholic Leadership Institute Board, John Gallagher, said that this was a very special occasion.
“This centre is a very important part of the ongoing development of Te Kupenga, the Catholic Leadership Institute, and the Catholic Theological College,” he said.
“For us,” Mr Gallagher continued, “this is an outstanding transformation, and in that context I would like to give special thanks to the project control group and our architect Tony Orgias.
“Those who know the Columba Centre well have commented that this building has a soul. And this renovation has retained and enhanced this. The centre has a long-standing legacy as a place of Catholic learning, and pleasingly, Te Kupenga and the Catholic Theological College will continue and enhance this tradition.”
A Catholic school was operated on the site from 1913 to 1995, before an earlier renovation saw the St Columba Centre transformed by 2000 into a meeting centre, which was used by the Church and the community.
Mr Gallagher commented on the building’s “strong link to the past, as we enter a time of change and challenge, in teaching and preparing priests and laypeople to serve our Church here in Aotearoa New Zealand”.
“The Columba Centre is perhaps the beginning of a new era in the formation of our leaders. And at Te Kupenga, we are proud to be part of this important challenge, and are very appreciative of the support of the bishops through NZCBC, and Auckland diocese who are our landlord.”
Some photos of the interior of the refurbished centre are on the back cover.