Auckland tertiary chaplaincy moves as its ministry changes

Symonds - web

The Auckland Catholic Tertiary chaplaincy has moved out of its drop-in centre on Symonds St near the University of Auckland city campus as part of an intentional shift in how tertiary studies ministry is delivered in the diocese.

A letter from Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe, dated June 20 and posted on the Auckland Catholic Tertiary Chaplaincy facebook page, stated that the move out of the Symonds St premises would take place after June 27.

The bishop’s letter noted that there had been a drop-off in student engagement with the facility. It was also observed that there are more than 20 tertiary campuses throughout the diocese, and that there has been a significant move to online learning.

“We have also been mindful of the significant ongoing costs associated with maintaining this centre,” the bishop’s letter stated. The premises, in an office block, had been rented, NZ Catholic understands.

This is the second move for the tertiary chaplaincy team in five years. In 2018, the Auckland Catholic Tertiary Chaplaincy team left its home at historic Newman Hall on Waterloo Quadrant for the Symonds St premises.

Auckland Catholic diocese sold the Newman Hall property last year in 2017, after it was put up for sale in late 2016. The building, which the diocese had bought in 1947, had seismic issues and was in a poor condition.

Bishop Lowe’s 2023 letter stated that there is a need to expand tertiary ministry beyond the University of Auckland’s central campuses, to the other tertiary institutions in the diocese.

“As tertiary education evolves, our tertiary ministry must evolve with it.”

Bishop Lowe cited a passage from Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium: “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way’. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in their respective communities.[EG33]”

In this light, Bishop Lowe’s letter stated that, “In the light of the isolating impact of Covid-19, there is a need to meet tertiary students and staff where they are, engaging with them in a greater way on campus and online”.

“Our new strategy for tertiary ministry will be guided by these goals.”

From second semester, university ministry will take place at tertiary institutions across Auckland. Tuesday Mass and lunch will continue at the MacLaurin Chapel in Princes St. The bishop’s letter noted that this chapel open on weekdays for eight and a half hours from morning, for “Catholic students and university staff to use as a space of prayer, study and fellowship. Our university ministry staff will often be present in this space”.

With increasing presence on tertiary campuses across Auckland, and a “growing outreach” to students and journeying with the in faith, Bishop Lowe invited the current tertiary chaplaincy “to be an active part of this new chapter”.

“We need you, students and tertiary staff members, to be missionary disciples in this important mission field.”

Photo: The building which housed the tertiary chaplaincy on Symonds St

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Michael Otto