The Marist Fathers, arrived in Taranaki in 1860 as missionaries to work with both Maori and European during the Land Wars, we leave at the end of August 2007, opening a new house in Hawkes Bay.
For ninety-three-year-old Father Gordon Kerins this means packing up his golf clubs and he’s on the move.
The retired priest will leave his home in Waitara at the end of next month when Taranaki’s last Marist community shuts its doors and the remaining three members leave.
For Father Kerins, this means giving up the three holes of golf he plays every second day at the Manukorihi Golf Club and “the people and place” he says he loves.
And while his two fellow-fathers joke Father Kerins is going “free to a good home” his departure will signal the end of the Marist Fathers’ 150-year connection with Taranaki.
The Marist Fathers, members of the Society of Mary, arrived in Taranaki in 1860 as missionaries to work with both Maori and European during the Land Wars.
Since then their presence has remained unbroken.
When asked how he felt about packing up and leaving Waitara, Father Kerins replied with one word: “Bad”.
“He’s sad about it,” Waitara’s Marist community head Father Frank Twiss said. “It is sad for all of us. We love Taranaki.”
With Fathers Twiss and Kerins, Father Earl Crotty, the parish priest at Waitara, will also be shifting to the Hawke’s Bay to join a larger Marist community. The closing of the community is part of a reshuffle of Catholic priests in Taranaki, which will see fathers attached to the Catholic Diocese taking over all parishes.
To replace them, Father Tom Lawn will move from New Plymouth, taking on both Inglewood and Waitara. He has already been replaced by Father Craig Butler in New Plymouth.
Father Twiss said while this was sad and hard for the Waitara community, moving was part of the life of a priest.
“We’re pretty philosophical about it really because life is like that,” he said.
Other fathers were also being affected by the change, which Father Crotty said was like “moving chess pieces around” to work out what was best for the order as a whole.
Source: Taranaki Daily News