Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
When we imagine the beginnings of Christianity, we think of local people celebrating their faith in their own homes. The ‘church of the home’ was the norm and there, as individual families and local assembly, Christians shared and expressed their faith. The home, the place of daily life, was the place in which discipleship was worked out in action, prayer and word.
Today we often struggle to recognise this simple truth that in reality has not changed at all. The home remains the centre of our lives; the base from which families, friends, and flatmates go out to live and engage the world. The home is where faith finds its heart if it is to be real, authentic.
In July 2008 the Catholic people of Aotearoa New Zealand have an opportunity to rediscover this centre. You will be invited to open your homes to young Christians from all over the world. Many will struggle with English. Many will find our ways strange and even difficult. But all will share with you belief in Jesus Christ and the desire to live out this belief.
Much is being made of the 2008 World Youth Day celebrations to be held in Sydney, Australia and rightly so. There, Pope Benedict XVI will once again join the youth of the world in a party of faith, the size and logistics of which are staggering. The energy and vitality that will abound; the creativity and diversity that will explode will be something the like of which we have never before seen in Oceania.
The days in Sydney are aimed at the young; the 16 to 35 year old age group. But the “Days in the Diocese” that precede them are aimed at everyone. The Catholic Church in this country will host the world. The experience of past World Youth Day’s confirms that those who welcome young foreign pilgrims into their homes will emerge changed - reaffirmed in their faith. The freshness of youthful witness and the excitement of the celebration of faith is perhaps the greatest gift of World Youth Day.
We, the Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand warmly urge you to involve yourselves deeply in the preparations for the world’s visit. While the pilgrimage to Sydney is for the young, the visit of the world to our dioceses, parishes and homes is for all Catholics. Make certain that you are a part of this unique faith experience by opening your homes and sharing in these days.
Denis G Browne
Bishop of Hamilton
John A Dew
Archbishop of Wellington
Colin D Campbell
Bishop of Dunedin
Peter J Cullinane
Bishop of Palmerston North
John J Cunneen
Bishop of Christchurch
Patrick J Dunn
Bishop of Auckland
Barry P Jones
Coadjutor Bishop of Christchurch
Robin W Leamy SM
Bishop Emeritus of Rarotonga