“If the Church is going to do anything it has to be us who do it”

Archbishop Paul Martin

Newly installed Archbishop of Wellington, Paul Martin, issued a call to action to the Archdiocese of Wellington.

“If the Church is going to do anything, it has to be us who do it,” he said, emphasising the importance of individual and collective responsibility in the Church’s mission.

“The church doesn’t exist in some ethereal domain without bodies and people who have lives and with all the joys and sorrows that make it up.”

He dismissed the notion of waiting for some magical ‘other’ to effect change, asserting, “It’s us. You and me, with all our hang-ups and foibles, our talents and skills.”

He also told the congregation that living in challenging times requires great hope and trust that God is at work in our world and in each of us.

“The good news is still with us,” he reassured the congregation.

Martin made the comments to a 600-strong congregation at his installation as Archbishop of Wellington.

The ceremony was held at St Teresa’s pro-Cathedral in Karori, Wellington.

“The church

doesn’t exist

in some ethereal domain

without bodies

and people

who have lives

and with all the joys and sorrows

that make it up.”

Reflecting on the various stages of his priestly journey Martin said that, other than diaconate, he has never been ordained in a Church.

Sacred Heart, his parish church in Hastings, was burnt down, so he said he was “slam-dunked into the priesthood” in the St John’s College gym.

Then when it came time to be ordained bishop so that we could fit everyone in, he was ordained in the Christchurch Boys High School auditorium.

Taking his reflection further on the role of buildings, Martin said in Christchurch there was no cathedral so he was installed in the pro-cathedral, and now in Wellington he is being installed in the Archdiocese’s pro-cathedral of St Teresa.

“I think one of the things for me that it highlights is that places are important, but actually in the end, they aren’t the key thing.

“The key thing is people and faith,” he said.

Martin says he wants Sacred Heart Cathedral open and the archdiocese to have a home. If we can, he wants to see the Archdiocese in good places and for local people to have a place to call home.

But in the end, Martin said it all comes back to faith and that today, again, he wants to thank God for that.

“I really do look forward to journeying with you in faith and trust, whatever lies ahead,” he said.

At times emotional, Martin used the opportunity to thank many people.

He began his speech by thanking his parents – Ron, who died 28 years ago, and Carmel, who was in the congregation.

“You both show me what a life of faith looked like.

“You provided me with a really stable environment of love.

“And you enabled me to be able to respond to God’s call to me.

“And you’ve been a great support to me, Mum, ever since.

“But also allowing me to be free to do what’s been asked of me.

“And I’m really grateful to God for all of it.”

Martin also acknowledged the diocese of Christchurch, where he was extremely fortunate to lead and to learn what it meant to be a bishop, and his episcopal forbears.

He said he is very aware of the faith and witness of those who have gone before him.

He said he remembered some years back sitting in the cathedral and looking at the names of the bishops around the pulpit.

He acknowledged with gratitude Cardinal Tom Williams and Cardinal John Dew.

Martin told the congregation that he never wanted to be a bishop but now God has asked him to follow these “men who have led bravely and well.”

“And now God has asked that of me.”

Then committing himself to the people of the Archdiocese of Wellington, he said the Archdiocese is now his home, and its people are the ones on whom  he will focus his care, concern and energy.


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