Te Ngakau Waiora Mercy Spirituality Centre
Close on 150 gathered at the Epsom parish church on Saturday 23 November, to join with the staff and board of Te Ngakau Waiora Mercy Spirituality Centre to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a Mass, followed by refreshments in the parish hall.
Principal celebrant, Bishop Pat Dunn, was joined by Bishop Stuart O’Connell, three priests and a deacon. A welcoming karanga and mihi whakatau, presented by Rangi and Kingi Davis, opened the celebrations. Guests were acknowledged by Sister of Mercy Rita Vessey, who has managed the centre over the past 14 years. She commended the Sisters of Mercy who, 25 years ago, had the vision and courage to find a new purpose for the Epsom convent when leadership of the parish school passed into lay hands.
“Those sisters have ample proof that the decisions they made in the 1980s were well founded, and we have all seen how the centre has continued to grow and evolve since that time. We look forward to the next special occasion here, which should be the centenary of the school in 2021.”
She described the vision of Te Ngakau Waiora as that of “a city oasis to which all may come to be nourished and to find rest; a place apart to renew a relationship with God, perhaps to find oneself anew, and to see the beauty of God that abounds in our environment.”
The congregation included Sisters of Mercy from throughout New Zealand and the Pacific; among them were Congregation Leader Anne Campbell and two of the Leadership Team, Katrina Fabish and Tui Cadigan.
Also present were representatives of several Congregations of women and men religious, presenters of courses held at the centre, as well as Mercy Associates, lay friends and supporters of the centre.
The cover of the liturgy leaflet for the jubilee Mass displayed brochures from programmes run at the centre in recent years – among them Jeremiah, the reluctant prophet, medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, a Celtic pilgrimage focused on Irish writer John O’Donohue, and the spiritual wisdom of the Dalai Lama.
In her comments at the end of the Mass, Te Ngakau Waiora board chairperson, Linda McQuade paid a tribute to the staff who maintain the centre; she also thanked Bishop Dunn for finding time in his busy schedule to celebrate the jubilee Mass and in recent years to provide a presentation within the centre’s scheduled events.
A toast to the centre was proposed at the reception which followed the Mass by Congregation Leader Anne Campbell. “The quality of a space like this does not just happen. It requires the commitment of its manager and generous support from community members; the professional governance of a dedicated board; the shared gifts and skills of spiritual directors and presenters; and above all, the warm hospitality of heart and table provided by the staff.
“We toast all those who continue to gift us with the space of Te Ngakau Waiora, helping us to relate our doing with being; walking with us the rhythm of soul and the inner space it creates, inviting us to
‘a pause, a gap in the human go, where the Divine squeezes through.’” (Australian poet Noel Davis)
Snapped after the 25th Jubilee Mass for Te Ngakau Waiora are (from left) Sr Rita Vessey, the centre’s manager, Congregation Leader Anne Campbell, Sr Priscilla Kohlhase who shares responsibility for hospitality at the centre, and board chairperson Linda McQuade.