in 2019 Cardinal John gave a directive to all of the parishes within the Wellington Archdiocese to review the number and condition of churches and presbyteries in each parish and develop a plan to use their assets more wisely.
Due to the reduced number of priests, earthquake resiliency of our structures, and the priorities of the 2017 Archdiocesan Synod, the Church cannot continue on it’s current path. This became an opportunity to reflect on how we, the Parish of Te Awakairangi, met the pastoral needs of the church community and how we could influence the community outside of our churches. We were asked to report back to Cardinal John by the end of October 2019.
In response to Cardinal John’s directive the Te Awakairangi Parish Pastoral Leadership team convened a Steering Committee to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the directive.
The role of our Steering Group was to oversee and co-ordinate the Parish’s effort to implement Cardinal John’s directive including consultation with all parishioners, gathering required information to present informed options, coordinating with neighbouring churches and managing the timetable for the completion of the Review by the due date.
Dialogue with parishioners was an essential part of the review, requiring the provision of factual information and the opportunity for all parishioners, young and old, to provide input/comment on what steps you believe should be taken to implement the Cardinal’s Directive. Cardinal John has told us that the status quo was not an option.
Our property proposals were put to Cardinal John Dew in October of 2019.
Our proposal to Cardinal John was for our Parish a move to a two-church one presbytery parish over time. We felt, at that time, that this would provide us with resources to be able to consider implementing new and different approaches to delivering ministry and outreach within our parish.
Following the disruption caused by COVID-19, Cardinal John provided a response to us in June 2020 requesting the Pastoral Teams (the Priests and Lay Pastoral Leader) of the
Parishes of Te Awa Kairangi and Te Wairua Tapu to do some further work together. He asked us to consider the impact that the proposals of the two Parishes would have on Lower Hutt, when considered together.
The two Pastoral Team subsequently entered into a discerment process, under the faciliatation of Fr Brian Cummings SM. This process commenced in August 2020 and went through to December 2020. The outcome of this discernment process was presented to Cardinal John in December 2020 and he provided feedback to the Pastoral Teams in February 2021.
Following meetings between the two Pastoral Parish Councils and Leadership teams the final discernment was presented to Cardinal John. After this, the Cardinal gave separate direction to Te Wairua Tapu and Te Awakairangi Parishes.
For our parish the outcome confirmed a modified version of our original recommendation.
That decision is to move to three-church parish by retaining the churches of Ss Peter & Paul, St Michael, and if practicable, St Bernadette.
We will also retain the Lower Hutt and Taita presbyteries.
Our next step is to convene a working group to assess and advise on the cost implications for strengthening St Bernadette’s church. While this work is carried out we will continue to retain St Martin de Porres Church and presbytery. Once we have determined the practicalities of strengthening St Bernadette’s, should this occur, we will retain Avalon while St Bernadette’s is closed for strengthening work. Once that work is completed we will look to closing Avalon.
So, while for now, we have a direction forward, our journey still continues. Once we have more detailed planning completed on the practicalities of this decision we will communicate timeframes for what happens next in our journey as a mission focused parish.