Information Bulletin 88

June 2008

This Information Bulletin is also available to download as a PDF: 200806.pdf
Dear Brothers in Ministry,

It may come as a surprise to our Australian clergy that our Information Bulletins have been going across the Tasman to the clergy of New Zealand for quite some years. I'm not sure that there has been much direct reference to New Zealand, so this time there is.

Over the past three or four years, the Bishops of New Zealand in conjunction with this Office have sent a representative of each of their six dioceses to our annual national meeting of Directors of Clergy Life and Ministry - an initiative warmly supported on both sides of the Tasman. In return, I received an invitation from Archbishop John Dew of Wellington to attend (with Peter Bianchini) the 2nd National Assembly of Diocesan Priests in Blenheim. It was an honour to be there and a very rewarding experience.

Particularly striking was the camaraderie among all present: 10 bishops and 170 or so priests. Whatever their age, everyone related extremely well. They put this down, in part, to Seminary training in the one institute, originally in Mosgiel. Their prayerfulness, and the daily inclusion of Maori blessings and ‘echoes' in the liturgy, were a constant reminder that this is Aotearoa New Zealand . Their spontaneous singing of How Great Thou Art in Maori was genuinely moving. And Fr David Ranson's presentations, as key speaker, were deeply appreciated for the week-long gathering.

Perhaps something similar may be possible here at provincial levels every three or four years ?

Ma- te Atua koutou e manaaki - God bless.

Frank Devoy, Director

{slide=New Zealand Assembly}



The National Assembly was for me a very positive experience, of priesthood more than anything, but with a specific dimension that made it notably Kiwi, or New Zealandish.

Our egalitarian culture accentuated our unity as disciples and priests, bringing bishops, presbyters and deacons together in a markedly fraternal way -- in the celebrations of the Eucharist, in the listening and responding to David Ranson, at the meal table and in the recreational events. We were all together enlightened and challenged by David's addresses.

We could all see ourselves caught up in the paradox and mystery of the Paschal event playing out today in the reality of an aging presbyterate, a declining number of committed faithful, a non-connected youth, a seemingly indifferent if not hostile secular world in which we are immersed, and to which we are still inspired to offer signs of hope.

Engaging our ministerial priesthood more positively with our priestly people to preach, worship, love and serve the Risen Lord ... the days we were together have stimulated us anew.

Being with old friends from seminary days, many of whom have scarcely seen one another since was an added dimension of delight, sobered by the awareness (for me) that 36 years seem to have passed so quickly! But what richness of ministry, what great history of loving faithful life in service was manifest at this gathering. Kia ora. Kia kaha.

Fr Geoff Gray
Timaru North Parish
Diocese of Christchurch

The paschal candle was ever before us last week at the National Assembly of Diocesan Priests. Mornings were spent with David Ranson drawing from the Easter story inspirational matter for the conversations and reflections that followed. In the early evening we celebrated Eucharist and faith and joy reigned. In between, there was ample time to catch up with the brothers and reminisce and share memories. There was food and drink too, and visits to wineries and seafood farms.

All of this in an age when sometimes our priesthood seems to have taken a bit of a battering. But David renewed hope and joy, and everyone agreed that it was a great week.

Our dioceses are small and Bishops and priests get together for retreats, pastoral meetings, jubilees -- and funerals too. But a national gathering is possible too. The more than 170 priests and all the bishops from the 6 dioceses rejoiced to be together. We realise that there is something bigger than just the boundary of each diocese. And we have everything in common in Aotearoa NZ

Bishop Owen Dolan
Emeritus Co-adjutor Bishop
Diocese of Palmerston North

Our 1st national Assembly 5 years ago with input from Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP was a wonderful and inspiring occas-ion. Thus I was looking forward to our 2nd National Assem-bly. Fr John O'Connor was MC and repeated several times during the Assembly the last paragraph of the Planning Committee's welcome, "In welcoming you we invite you to take these days to reflect, to be challenged and nourished, to sleep, and to enjoy the good company. We know that the Holy Spirit will not miss this opportunity to work powerfully among us ..."

Fr David Ranson gave input based around chapter 21 of John 's Gospel. This provided a worthwhile base for further reflection and opening to the Spirit.

Meeting - and sometimes not recognising! - seminary classmates I hadn't seen in years was great. The bond of priestly brotherhood took away the years. It was good to meet the Australian observers, Frank Devoy and especially Peter Bianchini who was at Vat II Renewal in 2003 when I was there, so there was even more to catch up with. I look forward to the next!

Fr John Dykes
Hastings East Parish
Diocese of Palmerston North

It was a great privilege to be involved in the second National Assembly of Diocesan Priests. Seeing so many priests together was inspiring and humbling. As the Assembly progressed I became more and more convinced that priesthood requires great courage, and that our priests have a courageous strength which they probably do not recognize in themselves.

My over-riding impression is of a quiet joy among the priests which grew throughout the week - joy in reunion with classmates, joy in solidarity, joy in sharing with priest peers, joy in eating together, joy in sharing in liturgy... joy in simply being together in an environment which stimulated the mind as well as providing opportunities to pray together and to socialize.

In these times it would be easy for a spiral into negativity to develop because of the pressures on priests and bishops. The Assembly revealed that priests are good for priests. When the right environment is provided, their solidarity with one another generates hope and joy in their vocation. Events like the Assembly are good not only for priests but for the whole Church in New Zealand .

Mrs Anne Dickinson
Executive Secretary

{/slide} {slide=Words of Introduction - Fr David Ransom}


The timing of this Assembly is not without significance. This week-long reflection in the light of Easter invites us to consider our experience of priestly ministry within the paschal mystery, the extraordinary paradox of death and life. The liturgical season in which we gather reminds us that even our experience of priestly ministry is subject to that essential paschal logic, in Metz 's words, that "the art of dying is part of the charismatic act of living."

This is the extraordinary character of Christian faith: to stand before the empty tomb, the place where death and diminishment are expected, to actually enter that place, and precisely there, to see and hear an altogether new possibility. The Kingdom, as God's imagination for us, realises itself in the transformation of death into life. It enters death, and affirms life; it holds fear, and celebrates love; it faces despair and proclaims hope.

As priests, we are not absolved from this Mystery at the heart of our faith. It is not a Mystery given to those to whom we lead, and not to ourselves. Our future, along with all the baptised, is to know what must die to know what might life. The Spirit is given to us so that we might never cease to be awakened to the paschal possibility that presents itself to us in ever-different ways, according to our time, our place, our circumstances.

Ultimately, the memory of the crucified and risen Jesus must inform our conversation in Blenheim to identify and to share together those moments of true paschal energy in the experience of priestly ministry. In our passion for ordained ministry, how have we experienced the dawn of life in the face of what might first appear to be diminishment? What despair have we squarely faced only to discover the seeds of fresh hope? What fears about the exercise of our priesthood have we dared to name, only to recognise there the renewed stirrings of love for our vocation?

Fr David Ranson
Diocese of Broken Bay
Academic Secretary: Catholic Institute of Sydney

{/slide} {slide=Six Dioceses of New Zealand}

Six Dioceses of New Zealand


  • Bishops: Archbishop John Dew, Wellington; Bps Patrick Dunn, Auckland; Denis Brown, Hamilton; Peter Cullinane, Palmerston North; Barry Jones, Christchurch; Colin Camp-bell, Dunedin. Archbishop Charles Balvo (Apostolic Nuncio).
  • Emeritus Bishops: Cardinal Williams, Bps Boyle, Cunneen, Dolan, Leamy SM (Assistant, Auckland ), Mackey, Meeking.
  • Priests: 489 (Diocesan 300, Religious 189 - source Annuario Pontificio 2007); Deacons: 10
  • Created: 01 June 2008
  • Modified: 29 April 2009