New Plymouth’s three parishes amalgamate

The parishes of St Joseph’s, St Philomena’s and Our Lady Help of Christians have amalgamated into one, known as the Catholic Parish of New Plymouth.

The reunification Mass at Sacred Heart Girls’ College on 6 September was led by Bishop Charles Drennan, who told the parishioners that Taranaki had always been and would continue to be a fertile ground for the Catholic faith.

He said the fire that gutted the St Philomena’s church in Brooklands in January 2014 had proven that faith did not live in bricks and mortar, but rather in the people of the community.  Read Bishop Charles’ homily.

Regional dean of North Taranaki Father Craig Butler said the amalgamation was a part of a plan to ensure the Catholic church would continue to grow.

Butler said to begin with there would be no changes and services would continue at the individual churches.

The amalgamation would ensure the Catholic community was unified and that emphasis was placed on the importance of the five Catholic schools in the district.

He said the process leading up to the amalgamation had been challenging but exciting.

“We are facing change and people are being very generous around that. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it has been very satisfying because Taranaki has some wonderful people.”

 The history of the Catholic church in Taranaki dates back to the early 1850s with the arrival of French Marist priests.

In 1856 the first Catholic church was build in the district, on Courtenay St, at a site now occupied by McDonalds and Countdown supermarket.

The Fitzroy and Brooklands parishes were established in the 1950 and 60s after the arrival of a cohort of Irish priests.



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