Palmerston North diocese functioning well without a bishop

The Palmerston North diocese is working well, even without a bishop.

The diocese has a positive vision for the coming year says newly appointed general manager, Liam Greer.

Greer told parishioners in a presentation around the diocese that the diocese’s prime focus is its mission.

“One of the best questions (during the presentation) that was asked of us was: ‘You got all the financial issues, compliance issues, ageing buildings that are seismically compromised, what is the biggest priority?’ And the answer to that is our mission,” Greer said.

“It’s not the bricks and mortar. It’s not the money. The priority is the mission because, without the mission, the rest of it is irrelevant.”

“I think we’re in really good stead and in a really good position as a diocese heading into 2021,” he said.

During the presentation, Greer explained where the diocese is standing at the moment, the services it offers to the parishes and the pastoral mission the Church in Palmerston North is embarking on.

Greer said the Palmerston North diocese finances are affected by the pandemic; Mass-giving dipped during the lockdown and the equities and properties market took a tumble.

The Palmerston North’s situation is not unlike that of other dioceses, he added.

“It looks like the equities and properties markets have bounced back and it’s looking as good as it was pre-Covid, but we are looking at avenues where we can increase our passive income through developing land that the Church already owns to create some long-term passive income,” he said.

Asked about restructuring parishes, Greer said it has not been a priority.

Any restructuring will be carried out in the coming years in full transparency with stakeholders and as the need to address issues with various buildings becomes important, he clarified.

Members of the diocesan staff accompanied Greer in presenting “Update 2020” at several churches in the diocese.

Pastoral coordinator Isabella McCafferty also gave parishioners an update on their journey as a Church.

She provided a road map for transformation – around where the diocese thinks the Church is – nationally and internationally.

McCafferty’s presentation asked questions like “what is the point of our being here, who are we and what is the point of our mission.”

Greer said that rather than “maintain” the Church, the diocese office wants to grow and to spread the mission.

“We’re essentially there to achieve the pastoral priorities as determined by the bishop.

“So, we’ve got a mission and we’re there to spread the mission, to have Catholic character in schools, to ensure our churches are looked after, our youth ministry is vibrant and is growing … through prudent administration of affairs, assets and finances of the Church.”

Greer praised the support staff, Cardinal John Dew, Msgr Brian Walsh and the other dioceses for their help since his appointment.

He also expressed appreciation to the New Zealand Catholic bishops for holding their recent Conference in Palmerston North.

“That was a show of solidarity with our bishops and recognition that we might not have a bishop but the Catholic Church is there supporting us,” he said.

A year after the resignation of Charles Drennan, Palmerston North is still without a new Catholic bishop.

Cardinal John Dew of Wellington is the diocese’s interim administrator until a full-time replacement is appointed.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said Pope Francis appointed all bishops, there was no timeframe for the appointment of a bishop for Palmerston North and when an appointment was made it would be announced by the Vatican.


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