In the well known words of the 2nd Vatican Council, the Holy Eucharist is “the source and the summit of the Christian life.” The Sunday celebration is the veritable heart beat of the Church – being able to take one’s place in the assembly for the Eucharist is at once a grace, a joy and a privilege. At the present time, my great concern is to ensure that Sunday Mass is available for the people of our Diocese. Because of the need to adjust to a smaller number of priests being available for Sunday Mass a number of structural changes have been made.
Already, the parishes of St. Gregory, Bishopdale, and St. Joseph, Papanui, have been combined into a new and larger parish of St. Joseph, Papanui. While such a change initially caused some hesitation, the fruit has been a release of resources, both human and material. Earlier this year, I asked the parishes of Sacred Heart, Timaru, and St. Joseph, Timaru North, to work toward becoming one parish – St. Patrick’s, Waimate, will also become part of this new and larger parish. Also, St. Anne’s, Woolston, and the Cathedral parish are working towards becoming one new and larger Cathedral parish.
These structural planning decisions are very significant because of their long term effects. I have therefore established a special diocesan planning group to advise me. It comprises lay persons and priests and is working in such a way as to reduce the number of parishes in the Pastoral Areas as set out in the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. Early next year, I will be able to introduce parish priests, parish councils and pastoral area councils to the plan for restructuring parishes and will invite responses to the proposals. In all of these changes I ask you for generosity and imagination as we collaborate in the mission of the Church to give glory to God and bring the redemption of Christ to all.
Bishop of Christchurch