Good afternoon, Passionist Family Group members and friends,
Over the past few weeks I have encountered many people who are really struggling or battling odds and it does take its toll. Being Catholic, Christian or any other denomination does not shelter us from the ebb and flow of life. In listening to people with their ailments and the sickness that is suffered due to ageing and young and middle aged dealing with mental health concerns it makes one wonder? That’s before you pick up the paper or listen to the news.
Great communication channels don’t necessarily make life easier but they do open us to hearing and seeing immense suffering on a global level. It seems that we get immune to this news and one has to extricate themselves through reflection, reading or meditating, to make sense of it all.
Palm Sunday reminds us on the importance of being faithful to what one is called to do. Jesus journey to Jerusalem is not for the faint hearted and yet, over history we have seen many who followed this path. To serve others; to give and not count the cost, to stand with the vulnerable and the lost; to make the world a better place through my passing; to see church as nourishment and an invitation to live like Jesus; to always show compassion, less judgement and more forgiveness.
The polarisation of our society is alarming to say the least. People trampling on others because they are different or have a different viewpoint. We stand on our values and we show through our attitude what and who we are. Old, young or middle aged we should seek a path where we can find support for a life that helps us walk the road to ‘the cross’. God is with us even when it doesn’t feel that way – we need to remind each other of our commitment to connecting with others not just being in a nice group. We in our Passionist Family Groups have a challenge to be for others in every way possible. No one of us is excluded! We find support, strength and courage to live as Jesus urging us to go out and be a welcoming person of others and to offer a home for others.
This Palm Sunday as we journey to Easter know we must embrace, the ‘cross’ – we are imperfect but loved by God no matter what. So, in our Passionist Family Group let us start to forget ourselves in a positive way i.e. being unselfish and make a way for welcoming and connecting others so they can experience what it is to ‘belong’. Then, our way is seen and felt by others that, “We Are a Family for All” The greatest gift that can and will overcome fear is HOPE – have listen to this beautiful song.: https://youtu.be/rc5wtRjgaI8 Living Hope
PFG Promotion Relaunch: Catholic Parish of Christchurch South: by Pamela Arthurs Regional Coordinator Christchurch South
Our parish is one of the ‘amalgamated’ parishes in the city, incorporating four previously separate suburban parishes and a Carmelite monastery. With five Mass centres in operation, parishioners have tended to mainly keep to the one they have normally gone to. While this isn’t a problem in itself, it has highlighted challenges in unifying the parish as one.
Two of the previous parishes have enjoyed Passionist Family Groups for decades and know full well the great community feel that the Movement promotes. Certainly, we were keen to share this with the rest of our new parish. Our aim was to bring in people from the two previous parishes who were not already in the movement to build community. Obviously, everyone else was welcome too!
Plans were put together with our parish priest Fr Peter Head sm, Paul Traynor and group coordinators, Family Group members were organised to speak at each of the Masses, and we were set to go. Then Covid lockdown happened. With the uncertainty of that, other events planned, etc, it was agreed that we’d try again in 2023.
The new year arrived and off we went! The last week of January our parish priest and Paul Traynor spoke at each of the weekend Masses and the following two weekends, Family Group members spoke briefly about what being in the PFGM meant for them. We had sign-up slips available at each Mass and an online form on our parish website. The online form was outstandingly the most preferred method of registering across all ages. Following the three weeks promotion, the organisers – together with existing group coordinators – got together to sort the new people into groups.
The promotion was a great success with 41 new families joining. Young, old, singles, couples – a really good mix. Nine of the existing 10 groups welcomed a couple of new members each and two new groups have been formed. These new groups will be supported by ‘old hands’ until such time as they feel ready to organise themselves.
The desire to build community was felt across the parish and this contributed to the success of this promotion. Key to the success, however, was the fantastic enthusiasm and support of the parish priest.
The whole promotion was quite simply done: three weeks of promotion with ‘heads-up’ notices in the couple of parish bulletins preceding that, speaking at Masses, a phone call and email to each new family by the organisers to welcome them and a one-hour meeting for new group members to explain a bit about the history and organisation of the Movement and to announce the groups they’d be in.
The whole promotion went smoothly with few hiccoughs. Huge thanks to Paul for his support and to our parish priest, for truly understanding the value of PFGs in building community through the ethos of a family for all.
- A big thanks to Pamela and Bob, Fr Peter Head sm and the ChCh South Team.
‘Embrace your imperfections’
As we wade through life’s muddled waters, especially as young adults, we tend deep down to be hopeful that we will eventually manage to settle down well and find perfection in a number of areas.
We dream of one day securing healthy relationships, deeply fulfilling work, happy family life and the respect of others.
But life as it is, has a habit of springing surprises, and rushing us in its overwhelming tide. It sometimes deals us a range of blows, leaving our dreams shattered. And like a favourite cup or plate, we sometimes crack. We may even break.
Obviously, you must not throw yourself away when this happens.
Instead, you can relish the blemishes and learn to turn these scars into art – like ‘kintsugi,’ an ancient Japanese practice that beautifies broken pottery.
In Zen aesthetics, the broken pieces of a ceramic pot should be carefully picked up, reassembled and then glued together with lacquer inflected with gold powder. The Japanese believe the golden cracks make the pieces even more valuable. It embraces the breakage as part of the object’s history, instead of something unacceptable to be hidden or thrown away.
It is beautiful to think of Kintsugi as a metaphor for your life, to see the broken, difficult or painful parts of you as radiating light, gold and beauty. It teaches that your broken places make you stronger and better than ever before.
The times when you get hurt and broken, you can feel totally rotten. But there can also be a strange beauty in the way you process the cracks in your life and the lessons you take from them afterward. You can decide to cover up, or you can decide to walk out into the world as yourself, with your cracks shining in gold.
Embrace your imperfections and stay blessed forever.
Nga Mihi – prayer and blessings
Scripture reflection: Palm Sunday, 2 April 2023.Year A, 2 April 2023.
Almighty, ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Saviour to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
First reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial psalm: Ps 21(22):8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Second reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Matthew 26:14 – 27:66
Link to readings – Click here
As we begin Holy Week, our readings take us from the joy and Hosannas of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem to a profound contemplation of his suffering and death. In the First Reading from Isaiah, we meet the suffering servant: the disciple who suffers without offering resistance, but is supported by God so that he can bring life to others.
The Psalm will accompany us through the week, as well as being quoted by Matthew in our Gospel. It foreshadows Jesus’s sufferings but also hints at his future glory. The Second Reading is a wonderful hymn which underlines Jesus’s divinity, but also his obedience and suffering before his exaltation and glory.
In the Gospel we hear the Passion narrative of St Matthew, in which Jesus is betrayed, mocked, denied, accused and crucified. His body is laid in the tomb, and a guard is placed to secure it.
This week, may we follow Christ in his Passion, holding each other, and our suffering and tortured world, in prayer. May Mary be with us in this journey and help us understand the value of following the example of her Son.
“Parishes should be close-knit communities, without bureaucracy, people-centered – a place where the gift of the sacraments can be found.
They have to become, once again, schools of service and generosity, with their doors always open to those who are excluded.” – Pope Francis – February 2023.
People who fare the best in retirement find ways to cultivate connections with others, according to Harvard’s 85-year happiness study. (Marloes De Vries for CNBC Make It)
Happiness tip: Focus more on what makes you happy and less on looking successful. The first step to true happiness is to set your own standards, instead of comparing yourself to others.
Happiness tip: Spending time in nature increases our vitality, well-being and a gives us a sense of personal growth. Find ways to add some greenery to your life, even if it’s just buying a few plants for your home.
Research shows that the higher the levels of trust within a country, the happier its citizens are.
Happiness tip: Think about how you can show up for your community. Your Passionist Family Group? How can you create more trust? How can you support policies that build upon that trust? Small acts like opening doors for strangers or giving up a seat on the train or bus makes a difference, too. It is what is called living through “Random Acts of Kindness” – Build through your connections, through your being welcoming, all the time helping others to belong.
Update: See Paeroa Invite attached
This week, I have been working from home – had meeting with Palmerston North people and a follow up with their team on May 1, 2023. Good to be able to work from home and get some administration and planning done.
Also, as advised previously in May this year we celebrate 50 years of Passionist Family Groups in Terrey Hills, Sydney. I will be attending this event representing PFG in Aotearoa. We have advised that we want Passionist Family Groups to have a get together near this time of May 7 to celebrate this great milestone. This will give us an opportunity to connect with Passionist Family Group members all over the Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Also, I wish to advise that on June 10, 2023 we celebrate 35 years of Passionist Family Groups in Paeroa 6pm Eucharist followed by Pot Luck dinner and on June 17 we celebrate 35 years for East Coast Bays. We believe this is a significant milestone that we commit to celebrating in June. My brother, Fr Brian Traynor has been invited out for these celebrations. He was there to begin these parishes 35 years ago along with Lynn and Rob Hill and many others who will be invited to join in on these celebrations.
In a similar spirit to what the encounter with the Samaritan woman might call us to, Cardinal McElroy, bishop of San Diego, wrote an article in January on inclusion in the Church. Because he received some fierce criticism accusing him of heresy and some strong support, he wrote again to address some of the criticisms. You can read this response here.
Reminder: 5 Aims and Goals
- share & celebrate life & faith
- support one another (especially in need)
- reaching out to & include others
- build community/extended family
- show example to children
Pease remember in your thoughts and prayer:
- Please remember Frances Bleaken’s mother who is in hospice stage care stage. Our love and thoughts to Frances, Clive, and family.
- Please remember Fr Peter Gaughan CP A Kiwi Passionist who was a great administrator, kind hearted, gentle and courageous facing death. He lived the Passion. We remember his family and friend s and of course his Passionist brothers and sisters.
- Please keep in your prayers the people from Auckland, Northland and Coromandel Hawkes Bay, Gisborne who are dealing with the after effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.
- Keep in prayer the people of Turkey and Syria and all who are assisting and supporting their efforts in dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes.
- Please keep Somalia and the surrounding countries dealing with their sixth year in a row of drought.
- Remember our people suffering from the intolerance of difference. May we be open to listen respectfully and not move to violence because we don’t agree.
- Please keep Nick and Leah and daughter Heidi Darbyshire whose 21 week old George Darbyshire died – Still born. Please keep Linda and Paul, Nick Leah and Heidi and the Leah’s family in your thoughts and prayer
- Remember Passionists: Fr Chris Mithen and Fr Brian Glesson
- Please pray for Dot and Neill Wilson (Invercargill) – their son-in-law Mark married to Dot’s daughter Anita has been diagnosed with aggressive brain tumour, Please keep in mind their daughter Bailey and son Taylor.
- Keep in your prayer Anne & Peter Green who have lost another daughter recently in the UK. Our hearts go out to them.
- Remember Pat and Rod Carson
- Remember a friend whose sister’s son is awaiting trial.
- Aidan son of Josie and Phil McIntyre – he is very sick and his parents are his caregivers.
- John Arthurs – brother of Bob. We remember John’s wife Valerie and Bob & Pamela’s family
- Paul Darbyshire (Linda and family)
- Gerard and Linda Daly – tragic loss of their son, Brett. Keep the family in your prayer.
- Boyd Dunlop (Judith and family) Boyd is recovering very well.
- Remember Fr Ray Sanchez CP – for his health concerns
- Fr Gerard Aynsley
- Your own intentions
Some Funny Covid jokes:
- Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It’s a long story….
- You know what they’re saying about 2020. It went viral faster than anyone thought it would.
- What’s the best way to avoid touching your face? A glass of wine in each hand.
- If coronavirus isn’t about beer, why do I keep seeing cases of it?
- What’s the difference between COVID-19 and Romeo and Juliet? One’s the coronavirus and the other is a Verona crisis.
- What do you call panic-buying of sausage and cheese in Germany? The wurst-kase scenario.
- Back in my day, you would cough to cover up a fart. Now, with COVID-19, you fart to cover up a cough.
- You know who buys up all the toilet paper? Assholes.
- Nail salons, hair salons, waxing center and tanning places are closed. It’s about to get ugly out there.
- Why don’t chefs find coronavirus jokes funny? They’re in bad taste.