Jan 24, 2012

When I was a child we moved house eight times in three towns and six schools. Looking back I can clearly see that all the moves were for the best. I know that where I am today is the fruit of all of those shifts. And I am happy with where I am today. 

It is easy to be content in hindsight. 

But at the time, some of the shifts were a challenge. I don’t remember much about the move from Otematata to Oamaru. I was just 2. When I was 8 we moved from Oamaru to Timaru. That was tough. Leaving three years worth of good school friends, and being led into the unknown, was difficult.

My parents were helpful. I remember them allowing me to talk longingly about all I was leaving. But they also made sure I was aware that big steps into unknown lands were the stuff of adventure and hopefulness. Within a year I knew they were right.

Perhaps it was the gentle training of my parents that taught me to not be afraid of stepping out into the unknown.

In these days I am reaping the benefits of this early learning and taking the transition I find myself in gently.

This week I have been settling into the parishes of North Canterbury. Setting up house in Cheviot has been pretty exhausting. But many of the local people of the three parishes have been very welcoming.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. His life was full of major transitions. It is significant that his feast day (25 January 1959), was the day chosen by Pope John XXIII to announce his calling of the Second Vatican Council.

Wikipedia reports his intention as follows:  
Pope John XXIII, however, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958. This sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and largely positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church, and the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis on 25 December 1961.  In various discussions before the Council actually convened, Pope John often said that it was time to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.  He invited other Christians outside of the Catholic Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Protestant denominations and Eastern Orthodox churches.

The Second Vatican Council moved us into a time of transition in the Church. Today we enjoy the fruits of the Council with it’s clear refocus on the person of Jesus. Later this year we mark the 50’th anniversary of the beginning of the Council. On the day of the Council opening, 11 October 1962, Pope John gave an address that included the following paragraph:

In the daily exercise of Our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that We hear certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church’s rightful liberty were concerned. 
We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand. 

This fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Council this year offers an ideal opportunity for us to return to the heart of our faith by encountering again the person of Jesus in the power and beauty of the Council’s sixteen documents.


  1. Fr. John,

    My prayers and best wishes are with you during this transition. It would seem that you are going to a beautiful place, with wonderful people.

    Fr. Paul Kavanagh
    Edmonton, Alberta,Canada

  2. Yes Paul, a beautiful part of the country with wonderful people. Great to hear from you. How is the study going? Blessings. John


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