The comment was made by New Zealand Marist Father’s provincial, Fr David Kennerly, August 12, at the opening of the new Marist – Challenge house.
Challenge 2000 is a youth development, community and family social work agency in Johnsonville, Wellington.
“If people see teams named Marist, playing rugby, they really will believe that is what Marists stand for.
“If people only see priests and professed brothers called Marists in church, they will think that is the sum total of what being Marist is about, is all that Marists do,” said Fr Kennerley.
Fr Kennerley said Challenge 2000 and its people are the hands, the feet, the care and attention of Christ and the Society of Mary’s involvement in this project helps the Society every more clearly, more boldly express our charism of ‘thinking, feeling and acting like Mary.
The Society of Mary helped secure the future of Challenge 2000 by purchasing the Wanaka St property to be used as a base for Challenge 2000’s outreach.
“Working with young people is more than providing a service to someone, and what this community has, and what this family, and these young people have, is what actually changes lives. – Prime Minister Bill English
Prime Minister opens, Cardinal blesses Marist – Challenge house
The building was opened by Prime Minister, Bill English and blessed by the Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington, John Dew.
Changing vulnerable young people’s lives was more difficult than changing the economy, but, they can change, the Prime Minister said in addressing the 400 strong crowd.
“Working with young people is more than providing a service to someone.
“What this community has, and what this family, and these young people have, is what actually changes lives.
“There’s a whole lot of things happen here in this place with these people and their values which you cannot get from a Government.
“It (Government) can support it, it can enable it, but it can’t replace it”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister congratulated the Society of Mary for purchasing the building on behalf of Challenge, saying that the building shows respect to young people.
“Often when we look at the services which work with our most vulnerable they don’t show respect, they don’t look like places where we think we are putting people who are valued. And that’s what’s changing here,” he said.
Long time supporter of Challenge 2000, retiring Ohariu MP and Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne described Challenge 2000 as the preeminent youth development agency.
He congratulated Challenge 2000 on what it has become and for its place in helping make young people confident, bold, and looking positively towards the future.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester also acknowledged the commitment of Challenge 2000 to the capital city.
“Challenge 2000 through their values of social justice, the notion of love works, and that if we put a tender arm around our young people, support them, celebrate them, we get them on the right path”, he said.
Earlier, the Cardinal John Dew asked God’s blessing on the Marist Challenge House, praying for all those who come looking for support and encouragement in their lives.
He gave thanks for the work of Challenge 2000 as it stands up for others, teaches, encourages and supports vulnerable youth and families. He prayed that Challenge 2000 would always be a light in the darkness.