Synodal hui, Suzanne Aubert discussed by Bishops at NZCBC meeting

The Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand are looking forward to meeting as wide a group of people as possible in early July at the National Synodal Hui in Wellington.

The hui is the next big step of New Zealand’s part in the “Synod on Synodality,” the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church launched by Pope Francis in 2021 and concluding in Rome next year.

The hui was one of many items discussed by the bishops in Christchurch last week at one of their regular conference meetings.

Representatives from dioceses, parishes, schools, priests and religious orders will attend the hui, at St Catherine’s College, Kilbirnie on Saturday 2 July, to discuss the feedback syntheses from the recent diocesan contributions to the synod process.

“The bishops look forward to gathering with a very wide group of people as we look at the synodal question ‘How do we as a Church journey together?’,” said Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.

Bishop Lowe said the bishops’ meeting received an update on the Cause of the Venerable Suzanne Aubert and they hope that her path to sainthood will continue to be considered. Her path stumbled in April when a Vatican medical council decided a potential miracle attributed to Mother Aubert could be explained by medical science, but further work is now being undertaken.

The bishops endorsed two dates in October 2023 for holding a National Assembly for Diocesan Priests, with Rotorua the preference for the venue. The actual date will depend on such things as the availability of speakers.

“These assemblies provide an important opportunity for diocesan priests to be inspired and meet in fraternity,” Bishop Lowe said.

Planning for the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon is under way. The bishops discussed this and look forward to the opportunity it offers for the young people of their dioceses to gather with young Catholics from around the world. Newly appointed Bishop of Christchurch Michael Gielen is likely to attend with the New Zealand delegation.

The Papal Nuncio to New Zealand, Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, attended part of the meeting as a distinguished guest. Other visitors included Fr Mathew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil, Rector, Holy Cross Seminary; Dr John Kleinsman as Interim CEO, Te Kupenga; Mene M Antonio, new Chief Executive of Caritas and Caritas Board Chair Keith Wedlock; Catherine Fyfe, chair of Te Rōpū Tautoko and Dave Mullin the Tautoko project director; and Virginia Noonan, Director, National Office for Professional Standards. All discussed their work with the bishops.

  •  Photo of the Bishops, from left: Bishop Michael Dooley (Dunedin), Archbishop Paul Martin (Coadjutor, Wellington), Cardinal John Dew (Wellington), Bishop Michael Gielen (Christchurch) and Bishop Stephen Lowe (Auckland).