walking together

Oct 16, 2023

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Take a moment to picture a gathering of Catholic priests.

I bet your image was nothing like the image above. The star-jumping guy on the left is the Vocations Director for my home diocese and the picture was taken a couple of weeks ago in South Island snow.

This time last week 180 (mostly diocesan) priests from around Aotearoa were together in Rotorua for days of friendship and formation – a once-every-five-year event. While not all of the priests present can leap as high as those pictured, the energy and sense of adventure in our gathering was tangible and contagious throughout

Someone calculated that there were more than 2500 years of priestly ministry gathered in Rotorua last week. I’ve always thought of myself as a young priest, but last week there weren’t too many older than me! Youthful energy and enthusiasm abounded.

Whenever priests meet the highlight is the personal conversations over slow food and drink especially when struggles and failures are shared with honesty and humility. There is laughter too, much laughter as we enjoy good company on the adventure of faith within the church.

On Sunday just past I celebrated Masses in mid-Canterbury, the small communities of Methven and Rakaia. The Methven Mass began right on half-time in the All Blacks – Ireland World cup game so we were a bit preoccupied in conversation over a cuppa at the end of Mass.

In the early evening I arrived in Rakaia to find a dozen people in silent prayer before Mass. Inspiring. Over the ten minutes before 6.30 many more arrived to join the silence. It’s rare to find such silence in a church before Mass these days and I found it deeply satisfying. During the homily I shared something of the Rotorua days. Parishioners were excited to hear that priests even do such a thing as meet together and have fun.

The mid-Canterbury Masses were a great way to conclude a full week of focus on priestly ministry, walking together with parishioners, disciples walking together, with Christ.

 

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing that. It IS wonderful to see priest meeting together and ‘leaping for joy.’

    Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing this, It IS wonderful to see priests gathering together and leaping for joy, as in you photo.

    Reply
  3. Thank you Father John.
    God bless all priests in their ministry to all people of all races and creeds.
    We pray for priests every time we pray the rosary. The first Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be are offered up for you all.
    I am glad you all had such a wonderful joyous celebration of life and hope together.
    We look forward to seeing and hearing you in our Parish on the 27/28 October.
    A&A

    Reply
    • This reminds me of the joyous event in the film “Into Great Silence” when the monks go out and play in the snow, it’s a wonderful moment.

      Reply
  4. What a great event to strengthen our priests on this journey of faith & life. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  5. This was lovely to see and hear God Bless each one of you.

    Reply
  6. The joy of the two young men leaping in the air was a delightful sharing of who they are personally.

    Reply
  7. Great opportunity for sharing. Always wonderful to gather with like minded people. Glad it was such a life giving experience for you. Blessings on you all.

    Reply

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