By JEFF DILLON
There was a sense of expectation in the air before the 10.30 am Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Dunedin recently, as a larger than usual congregation gathered to take part in a special occasion. The gathering included the pupils from St Joseph’s Cathedral primary school, and to that was added parents attending from other Dunedin parishes, which resulted in few empty spaces in the pews.
The occasion was a chance for the parish to officially acknowledge and celebrate Monsignor John Harrison’s fifty years as an ordained priest of the Dunedin diocese. The actual anniversary happened in June 2021, but the problems posed by the Covid pandemic prevented any major parish gathering and acknowledgement until over a year later.
Msgr Harrison celebrated the Mass, and commented in his homily about his path to his vocation, and what he had been involved with in his time as a priest. At the end of Mass, parishioner Raymond Clark expanded on the background by presenting a Power Point slide show of photos and comments from Msgr Harrison’s life. The school’s Kapa Haka group then performed a waiata before the final blessing.
The invitation to continue the celebrations at St Joseph’s Cathedral School facilities attracted the majority of the congregation. With Msgr Harrison seated with members of his family, the Kapa Haka group again performed to warm applause. Then parishioner Chris Lucas spoke of the salient qualities that he admired in Msgr Harrison. He identified the three key qualities as his youthful spirit, his strength, and finally his fidelity, with each being illustrated with examples that he had observed.
Then it was time for the cutting of the cake, which was suitably adorned with a plastic model plane in recognition of Msgr Harrison’s hobby and passion for making up model kits, and sharing his interest with a group of other model enthusiasts at regular meetings. The parish also gave him a large hamper of various donated gifts from parishioners in honour of the occasion.
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