The Catholic communities of the Hurunui district are small and spread around a large rural hinterland. Since my arrival in the parish just over three years ago the three parishes have been reformed into one new parish of the Good Shepherd. This has been a challenging and necessary amalgamation, and we are beginning to see many fruits.
Last Sunday parishioners came together for one parish Mass followed by a picnic together. The rain we have been praying for over the past few months arrived just as we began the Mass and we were forced together indoors. This was clearly the Holy Spirit bringing us together: It is much easier to meet and chat when together in a smaller space.
Here is a taste of a Saturday in my life as a diocesan priest:
This morning I celebrated Mass for a family who trace their New Zealand roots to one of our parish Churches: Holy Passion of the Lord, Amberley. It was a privilege to offer Mass for them and their intentions, praying especially for the happy repose of the souls of their ancestors who were so centred on God that they built a beautiful church on their property in 1866. This church was shifted to the Amberley township in the 1950’s to become one of the Hurunui parish churches.
Early this evening, after the 5pm Vigil Mass in Hanmer Springs, I travelled half an hour down the road to celebrate the 7.00pm Vigil Mass at Culverden. These Culverden evening Mass are ideally timed for the growing number of Filipino and South American parishioners who work on the dairy farms of the district. I was moved during Mass to see them together at prayer, having travelled great distances from across the parish to be at Mass. As a result of their commitment we have now established a second evening Mass each month.
After Mass we crossed the road to a local hall for a meal together. Jesus seemed to always find opportunities to eat and drink with people and it is therefore a sign of health when a community eats and drinks together.
Tonight I was very aware of the activity of the Holy Spirit bringing these new friends to us, filled with enthusiasm for Christ and for Catholic life.
Now I’m ready for bed in preparation for another full day tomorrow.