The Society of Mary is withdrawing from Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Palmerston North at the end of 2015.
“The decision to finish reflects our need to consolidate our apostolates and to prioritise our ministries,” Marist Fathers’ provincial, Fr David Kennerley SM said in a letter, Saturday, to Marist priests and brothers.
A consequence of this decision is the Society is to scale back its support of Hato Paora College.
The College, a Catholic Māori boys’ boarding school was established by the Society of Mary in 1947.
Fr Kennerley says the Society hopes to continue to support Hato Paora College into the future, but obviously not with as significant a presence as its has up to this point.
Currently Fr Matthew Crawford SM ministers full time at Hato Paora and lives in the Marist community at Our Lady of Lourdes.
Fr Kennerley says that the withdrawal from Our Lady of Lourdes parish marks the end of 14 years service and will be felt by many.
“We are grateful to all our confreres who have served in this parish and in other parts of this area for their energy and commitment,” he wrote.
Writing to the Palmerston North Diocese, Bishop Charles Drennan said the priests in Palmerston North always felt the warmth of hospitality and welcome at the Marist Community at Our Lady of Lourdes.
“Our diocese has been greatly served by the Shamrock street community over the years and it is with much sadness that I recognize the Society’s need to allocate their men elsewhere in the mission of the Church,” wrote Bishop Drennan.
The bishop said it’s the Marists’ vibrant, generous and varied ministry is what will be missed the most.
Members of the Society grouped by age met recently at Tatum Park to prioritise their ministries in New Zealand.
The meetings were requested by the Society of Mary’s General Administration in Rome.
Reflecting on these meetings, Fr Kennerley said in his May Provincial Newsletter, that without being asked, both meetings had agreed the Provincial and his Council were left to make the final choice for prioritising the provinces’ ministries.
In 2012, the Society of Mary took over responsibility of the Napier Pastoral area that comprises the Napier city parish of St Patrick, St Thomas-Moore parish and the St Mary’s parish in Taradale.