The seven members of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference are meeting in Christchurch as a sign of solidarity with the Canterbury community as they rebuild their city following the tragic earthquake of February 2011.
“One year on there is still much upheaval and uncertainty and we wanted to show that we stand with the community as they work to rebuild their infrastructure, their homes and workplaces and support one another through grief and uncertainty.
“We wanted to make sure that the people of Canterbury knew we weren’t staying away, so as soon as was practicable we decided on Christchurch as a location for one of our regular meetings,” said Archbishop John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.
“While the situation in Canterbury is not specifically on the agenda, by having the meeting here it is a reminder to those of us based outside of the region that the impact of the earthquakes continues to be felt here.” Archbishop John Dew said.
Bishop of Christchurch Bishop Barry Jones said “I’m delighted to host my fellow Bishops for these few days in Christchurch. They will be able to see the progress around the city and some suburbs. I know the community is always in their thoughts and prayers but it is wonderful that they have shown their willingness to return to Christchurch in support,”
“The whole community has experienced loss and hardship in some way and for many the stress is ongoing. As a church community we’re doing our best to continue to worship and celebrate our faith in the same way despite disruptions to our church buildings,” Bishop Barry Jones said.
The Bishops took time out from their discussions to visit several areas of Christchurch where homes had been damaged in the ongoing earthquakes.
Archbishop John Dew said “all of us were saddened to see the homes of so many badly damaged, it’s a reminder of the damage all over Christchurch which has affected so many families. When you see it close up you realise what people must be going through and certainly we will continue to pray for them and support them in practical ways.”
[Caption] Bishop of Christchurch (far right) Barry Jones show visiting Bishops, (L-R) Archbishop John Dew, Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop Denis Browne, Monsignor Peter Jeffrey and Bishop Patrick Dunn the damage to the Dallington Catholic presbytery.