Gathering from across Oceania

The bishops of Oceania are assembling in Wellington, the largest gathering of bishops in New Zealand since the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania’s first meeting in Auckland in 1994.

Pope John Paul II wrote his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania in 2001 specifically for the church in this part of the world under the protection of the Southern Cross.

The Lord has called the Church in Oceania to himself. As always the call involves a sending forth on mission. The purpose of being with Jesus is to go forth from Jesus, in his power and with his grace. Christ is now calling the church to share his mission with new energy and creativity [EIO #3].

Almost three years before Pope John Paul wrote those words, the bishops of Oceania had gathered in Rome in the presence of the now St John Paul II, to participate in the Synod for Oceania which had as its theme: Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking his way, telling his truth, living his life.

We were joined by some clergy, religious and laity from the Oceania region. From New Zealand there was Sr Catherine Hannan DOLC, Mrs Ruth Smithies, Mr Manuka Henare, Fr Peter Ewart SM, Fr Henare Tate and Fr Neil Vaney SM.

While the bishops came from the four separate bishops’ conferences of Australia, Papua New Guinea-Solomon Islands, CEPAC (the Pacific Islands) and New Zealand, we were also the bishops of the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Oceania.

This was one of my earlier experiences of the Vatican and Rome.

It was my first experience of magnificent liturgies in St Peters, in particular those influenced by the cultural expressions of the Pacific Islands.

It was the first time I had sat in the same room as the Pope, day after day and met bishops from other continents and heads of dicasteries [departments] of the Roman Curia.

It was all very different for me – sometimes bewildering and, at other times, totally fascinating. Overall, for me as a bishop of only three years, it was a time of blessing, learning and grace. Continue reading.

John Dew is the Archbishop of Wellington, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and President of the Federation of  Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania. 

Source: WelCom

Image: Archdiocese of Wellington

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