Archdiocese to review its stock of churches and presbyteries


Cardinal John Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington, has directed every parish in the archdiocese to review its stock of churches and presbyteries.

The review will identify how many churches the parish needs to cater for its Mass count, taking into account the availability of priests and lay pastoral leaders, and the ideal location of the church or churches.

Provision for the accommodation of priests is part of the review.

In a pastoral letter published on 17 February, the cardinal said the results are to be submitted to him complete with developed proposals, no later than 30 October 2019.

“For most, if not all parishes with more than one church, this will mean reducing the number of churches in the parish,” Dew said.

“You need to be prepared to be radical in your thinking and discernment.”

The review process will involve collecting and analysing information, and consulting with parishioners.

Pastoral teams and leadership groups have received detailed information and will be meeting shortly to look at how the parishes might carry out this process.

Between 2013 and 2017, the Archdiocese carried out a parish amalgamation process resulting in the reduction of the number of parishes from 47 to 22.

“This means, of course, there are now parishes with two or more churches, more than is necessary for worship and pastoral care,” said Dew.

Also, the Archdiocese continues to experience pressures that compound the present situation and carry significant implications for the future:

  • Earthquake resilience issues mean unsustainable insurance costs and buildings
    with unacceptable NBS ratings
  • Some churches require large sums of money to address their earthquake resilience and general maintenance
  • Pope Francis and the recent archdiocesan synod have challenged people to be more outward-looking and to serve those who are marginalised or disadvantaged. These cannot just be add-ons to what is already being done.

“We are called to be “missionary disciples” which, in the words of Pope Francis, makes an attitude of “we’ve always done it this way” not only damaging to the Church but invalid,” Dew said.

“If we are to respond well to present and future challenges, we need to act together in favour of the common good of all parishes and support one another in a process of change. This is not an easy task for any of us.

“Some of you may see this as a threat to the status quo, but I would like you to see our situation as an opportunity to let the Holy Spirit work in our midst to create a sustainable and mission-oriented future.”


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