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Many people lament that they don’t really know their neighbours anymore. We have come to know three of those directly adjacent to us. We knew our old immediate neighbours reasonably well. There are a number of bonuses that come from knowing your neighbours — they can take your bins in and out, and check your mail when you go away. You can look out for each other’s houses in case of burglars and fires. Having a sense of knowing your neighbours helps you to feel safe, and that you belong in your community.

In our last house, we had a great relationship with our neighbours. We shared a drive and, in that sense, it was important to have free-flowing communication. We are loving our current house, which is within walking distance of our school. This means that we have a number of families that live within walking distance, or within a very short drive, which is lovely. We walk home with some families, and help each other with walking kids to school and home when needed. We had a walking school bus pre-Covid, but sadly that’s fallen over for now.

We have a dairy within a short walk, the supermarket and library and bakery are within a 10-15 minute walk. In the other direction, we have the train and a field, which is lovely and leads to a boardwalk in the mangroves. We really took advantage of the lovely area we live in during Covid to get some exercise. There are a few good bus routes as well as the train within walking distance for us. That means that our oldest boy has a good level of independence — getting himself to and from school which, as all parents know, is a great help for the family.

A feeling of community is really important to help people feel connected and seen and not invisible. We all feel sick when we hear stories about someone who passed away at home, and no one found them for weeks or months. It’s hard to believe, but there are people who live very isolated from the rest of the world. We all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone remains in community. Church and faith communities are an important part of making sure that all members of the community are cared for. Our Catholic Church can do more for the community it serves. Always. Covid has disrupted so many parts of our lives, and Church is no exception. Visiting the sick and helping new mothers are important outreaches. These help people to feel that they belong.

People my age often talk about being left to roam the neighbourhood unsupervised for hours on end when they were kids. They wouldn’t dream of doing that nowadays with their own children. I don’t have memories like that, which may have reflected where we lived. In any case, our kids don’t tend to get much free range roaming unsupervised time.

With our oldest catching the bus to and from school, on occasions he goes to the local mall with friends. I think it is easier in the modern day where you can track their devices, such as phones, and are able to stay in contact with them. That certainly makes us feel more relaxed.

I really enjoyed the mothers and playgroup we used to have locally in the Church community. It takes quite a lot to drive a group like that, as someone has to take leadership and responsibility for driving it.

Inevitably, their kids grow up and they move on, or they have younger/more kids, and feel too busy to keep running it. We all have our times and seasons for volunteer work, and giving of our time. Let us use it wisely to help build community and strengthen our neighbourhoods.

John 22:37-39; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Helen Luxford is a physician, working part-time. She is a parishioner of St Michael’s, Remuera. Together with her husband Michael, they are raising their children in the Catholic Faith and reflecting on the challenges and joys that brings.



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Rowena Orejana

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