Gatherings Group call for more consultation about parish amalgamation

gatherings group

A group of Christchurch Catholics who call themselves the Gatherings Group have requested an opportunity to further discuss Bishop Paul Martin’s 9th June proposal to close churches in the diocese.

The group have asked that the current process be re-examined in two three-hours, or three two hour meetings – professionally facilitated and open to all – with the bishop and his team and the council of consulters.

They also want consideration to be given to an alternative plan that they have developed which they have called the Good Plan and to any other alternatives that may be proposed.

Over 100 people from throughout the diocese have attended three “Gatherings”.

The group also has an email distribution list of more than 300.

After the three gatherings representatives of the group had 2 meetings with members of the bishop’s team and the college of consulters.

The group agrees with:

  • A dedication to and expansion of adult education.
  • Full laity involvement in ministry and administration.
  • Lay-led liturgies, in the absence of a priest, with trained lay ministers.
  • Priests living in a community near church and community buildings, supporting, with lay ministers, a hub of smaller churches.

However, they believe that the 9 June proposal presupposes the old clerical priest based model of the church.

This, they say, resulted in the proposal to amalgamate parishes and close churches.

The implication being that some primary schools and currently fully-functioning diverse Catholic communities are disposable.

“We do understand there is a need to address low attendance and ‘churches being vacant from Monday to Saturday’.”

This then becomes the Mission – to train skilled, community including, religious and lay ministers in every parish in the diocese.”

The Gatherings Group think the diversity of peoples, buildings and liturgies are a hallmark of New Zealand catholicism.

They say diverse buildings, small and large, are essential to sustainability and survivability.


  • Supplied
  • Image: Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

Click here to read the full statement



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