St Mark’s marks 50 years

HAPPY 50TH: Cutting the cake on Sunday are, from left, Parish priest Sherwin Lapaan, Bishop Denis Browne, Bishop Michael Gielen, priests Carlo Cruz, Emile Frische and Austin Fernandez and transitional Deacon Thomas Park (he will be Ordained in May and become Assistant Priest at Pakuranga)

St Mark’s Catholic Church in Pakuranga has celebrated its 50th anniversary with an outdoor mass in the school grounds.

After a week of rain, and cold winds on Saturday, organisers say the weather was perfect on Sunday for the jubilee.

Bishop Michael Gielen, Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland, was there and said in his homily that he phoned the first Deacon, Joe Stack, on Sunday to ask him what it was like to be a missionary there 50 years ago.

“He said, “It was like a Mission Station. A Chapel that had been a cowshed. Mud surrounding the property.

They taught us nothing in the Seminary….I didn’t have a clue what to do,” Bishop Gielen told parishioners.

“The people carried us. The cows used to wander over to the property. I would have to take them back. He was a city boy and he had no idea how to do it.”

St. Luke’s Parish – the new came in Flat Bush out of this one, he said.

There are now 1000 people there.

“There were lots and lots of young families, and vibrancy and life,” Bishop Gielen said.

“Do you know what this Parish is like now? There are more families, more vibrancy and more life.”

Foundational parishioner Pat Gaines said, St Mark’s was “a very hospitable place for a new arrival and a stranger to everybody”.

Marian Peterson said, “Ray Green, the first priest at St Mark’s Parish, gave so much of his time at Edgewater College, saying Mass every Sunday, and then in the Cowshed Chapel.”

Veronica and Joey Maloni said, “We arrived in New Zealand in 1973, and joined St Mark’s Parish though at the time the parish was beginning and Mass was held at Edgewater College.

“Father Green walked the streets of Pakuranga, searching out Catholic families in the area, arriving at our house, notebook in had, writing down details of each member of the family and inviting us to Mass at Edgewater College. We felt welcomed from the start!

“We feel privileged to have been a part of this journey of St. Mark’s family; it has always been a church of joy and energy, so often raising the roof with our singing, dancing into the night with our socials, always fun, parish picnics, school fairs, making lifelong friends along the way.

“We had the blessing of wonderful priests over the years, who seemed to be just right for the needs of our parish at the time; each bringing their own special gifts, initiating programmes that would draw us together in our faith…over many months and sometimes even meeting together over years, feeding our spiritual lives together.

“St Mark’s will be forever in our hearts as our spiritual home, that has taught and guided us throughout our lives.”