History of Our Church
The original Parish of St Bernadette’s, Naenae, was conceived in the mind of
Fr Leo Daly, Parish Priest of Lower Hutt in very austere times. He accumulated land in Naenae for a church, school, presbytery and hall, beginning in 1943, in the middle of World War II and in the aftermath of the great depression. The foresight and courage of Fr Daly and the people who backed him formed the legendary beginnings of most of the parishes in the Lower Hutt Valley.
In 1947 St Bernadette’s was designated a parish with the Parish Priest (Fr Vincent Callaghan) being appointed on 25th April 1948. To begin with an overdraft of 5,000 pounds for land and buildings was a daunting task. The story of these inspiring pioneering days and the next 50 years can be read in an excellently written history called “A SWAMPY PADDOCK AND AN EMPTY PURSE” by Helen Bruce, which is available on the internet for free EBook read or purchase.
From 1998 to the time of amalgamation 8th February 2015, St Bernadette’s parish continued to evolve into a vibrant, well integrated multicultural community with peoples from Tokelau, Samoa, Philippines, Africa, Asia, South America as well as Maori and European – all working together as friends and parishioners. The multicultural mix and giftedness of our people is something that we have highly valued and appreciated, and when the time came for us to amalgamate with the other three parishes of Lower Hutt, these were the treasures that we proudly brought with us.
The year 2006 was historically significant for St Bernadette’s parish community when the pastoral and spiritual leadership of the parish was placed in the hands of a lay person – Mrs Barbara Rowley LPL. The Parish Priest, Fr Pat Greally resigned from that role because of bad health but remained involved as a Priest in Sacramental Ministry. With amalgamation Mrs Barbara Rowley, Fr Pat Greally, Fr Pat McCullough of St Michael’s, Taita, Fr David Orange of St Martin de Porres, Avalon, Fr Patrick Bridgman and Fr Andrew Kim of Ss Peter & Paul’s, Lower Hutt, became the Pastoral Team for the new Parish of Te Awakairangi, under the patronage of the Good Shepherd, with Fr Patrick Bridgman being appointed Parish Priest and the designated leader of the team.