Recently, when speaking to Christchurch North parish about the possible relaunch of Passionist Family Groups  in 2022 and a week later speaking at the masses in Ashburton where they too are looking to relaunch in early 2022. I decided to share this spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ which I initially read in an article by Dr Michael Jarvis. I was taken by the description of ‘Ubuntu’ and then the comparison he used with the gifts and spirit of the Early Christian community as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Dr Michael Jarvis wrote; the well-known and respected South African theologian Desmond Tutu, formerly Anglican archbishop, has said, “In Africa we have something called ‘ubuntu’ in Nguni languages, or ‘botho’ in Sotho, which is difficult to translate into English. It is the essence of being human.

 It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with ‘ubuntu’ is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, affirming others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self- assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole and are diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured and oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.

It gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them. It means it is not a great good to be successful through being aggressively competitive, that our purpose is social and communal harmony and well- being”. (Allen 1997).

It is interesting to compare this description of ‘ubuntu’ with the biblical description of the first Christian church. We read,  “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people.” (Bible: Acts 2:44-47).

The symbol of the early church was an “anchor’’ – a symbol of holding on, holding fast to what is good and valued. To see and believe in working for the common good rather than the ‘me first’ culture that pervades our society. So, when we are forced to go against the tide that ‘anchor’ allows us to resist the waves and currents that could take us from where we are. The anchor can allow us to stop and take stock of where we are before heading forward on our journey. There are always risks but working together can assist in overcoming the odds and in working together we can understand and live in the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’.

So, it does not take long to see why I chose to utilise this concept due to its meaning and the way it can be seen in operation in the early church. I believe what we are trying to live through the Aims and Goals of the Passionist Family Group Movement replicates this spirit of ‘Ubuntu’.

The Aims and Goals of Passionist Family Groups Movement:

  • To share our Christian lives together
  • To support each other in times of need
  • To give example to and involve children in our Christian sharing
  • To live and love like the early Christians – “See how they love one another”
  • To promote community spirit within the parish.

Your involvement and support over many years has shown what is possible. I think we forget that it is in the little things in life where hope, light and courage come. These aims and goals are a testimony to the thousands of people who have been involved in PFG’s living this spirit and promoting a down to earth message of being, Jesus to each other. Therefore, it is paramount that we keep striving even in these times of Covid and its testing of our patience, perseverance, and trust, that together, we will get through this!

In the living of these aims and goals and in our sharing with each other we are in the position of offering a sign of hope, of welcome and acceptance, a place all can call, ‘home’. So, whether you are in a season of smooth sailing or treacherous waters, remember in Jesus we have an ‘anchor ‘ of hope, a spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ for our soul, firm and secure! Hang on or Hang in there!

In memory:

We pray for the repose of the souls of two Passionist priests who have died this month:

Fr Felix Kialoi CP 12.6.64 to 12.10.21 who lived and worked in PNG who was a down to earth man who was deeply loved and respected by his PNG people and fellow Passionists there and in Australia. Felix will be sadly missed.

Fr Gerard Glynn CP 24.10.32 to 20.10.21 born in Aotearoa – the first Kiwi to join the Australian Province. A down to earth joyful man who brought laughter, hope , fun, life and service to all he met. Our thoughts and prayers are with his fellow Passionists who lived and worked with these men over the year.

“May the passion of Jesus be always on our minds and in our hearts”

We don’t just have jobs, we have callings, we have gifts, and we have the power to help people go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning with their mind and soul intact. How many people get to go to work every day and really get to make a contribution to another person’s life? How many people get to make someone smile, feel better, cherish the next moment? That’s what we get to do.

Your life as a caregiver is an unfolding journey in exploring your world of possibilities. To those people you touch every day, you are their light of hope. I’d like to invite you in this moment to take your right hand and place it on your left shoulder and your left hand and place it on your right shoulder. And imagine the embrace you would feel if every person that you had given care to in your life added their hands to your shoulders in front of you and behind you. You would begin to receive from all the people’s lives that you have been the light of possibility for, held up by their thank yous, by their appreciation, and by their love.

So any moment when you feel you need that extra special thank you, simply remember every person that you have given care to in your life. You are the light of possibility for the people you serve. Thank yourself for choosing to be a caregiver.

Also, keep in your prayer: The 2021 United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference of over 200 UNFCCC member countries will take place in Glasgow 31st Oct -12th Nov this year. This is the 26th Conference of the Parties (hence GOP26) and is taking place five years since climate change agreements were made in Paris.

Feast of All Saints November 1:

In the First Reading we see John’s vision of heaven and the multitude rejoicing there. In the presence of God the Father and Jesus (here in the guise of the sacrificial Lamb of God), praise and glory and thanksgiving are offered.

The Psalm speaks to us of God’s gift of creation, the earth and everything in it. The psalmist reminds us of the blessings that will come to those who seek the Lord through living life with clean hands and pure heart.

In the Second Reading, St John’s letter speaks of the love lavished upon us by God the Father. As children of God, we may at times find ourselves at odds with the values of the world, but we are promised a future in which the mystery of God will be revealed to us.

Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel outlines the wealth of blessings that come from living our lives well, and serving others. We are again reminded that although being true to his example may lead to persecution and rejection, we will be rewarded in heaven.

This week, we ask the Lord’s help to be generous with our prayers, our time, and our possessions in responding to the plight of those in our world who experience the harsh realities of persecution, loss and injustice on a daily basis.

Gotta have a few Dad jokes:…sorry

  1. Imagine if you walked into a bar and there was a long line of people waiting to take a swing at you. That’s the punch line.
  2. How does a man on the moon cut his hair? Eclipse it.
  3. Not to brag, but I defeated our local chess champion in less than five moves. Finally, my high school karate lessons paid off.
  4. Air used to be free at the gas station, now it’s $1.50. You know why?
  5. Why is it a bad idea to iron your four-leaf clover? Cause you shouldn’t press your luck.
  6. I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon. I’ll let you know.
  7. I can’t take my dog to the pond anymore because the ducks keep attacking him. That’s what I get for buying a pure bread dog.
  8. I didn’t want to believe that my dad was stealing from his job as a traffic cop, but when I got home, all the signs were there.

Have a good weekend and week – We pray for Christchurch and await results…this delta just spreads. Please remember All Saints and Souls feast days are coming up next week.. This provides for a good PFG function:  to have a zoom with a ritual, simple liturgy  or prayer and /or, invite where permissible those in your PFG and share by story, photo, shared memory of those you have lost or the PFG have lost. And raise a glass or cuppa in their memory. A good way to deepen bonds recalling our past and bringing those loved one into our present. There we remember them and thank them.


Nga Mihi,  Paul