Changing of the Guard for MISSIONZ Leadership

Today sees the changing of the guard as Fr Paul Shannahan SM hands of over to Fr Bernard Espiritu SVD as National Director of MISSIONZ after more than five years of dedicated and enthusiastic service. Last night staff, clergy, religious and supporters of MISSIONZ gathered to thank Fr Shannahan and to welcome Fr Espiritu.

In acknowledging Fr Shannahan’s contribution Papal Nuncio to New Zealand Archbishop Charles Balvo spoke of St John’s Gospel for this time in the Church’s year, “The Lord speaks first of all of the mission entrusted to Him by the Father, that He then passes on to those who were given to Him, the apostles and disciples. As National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for New Zealand, you have distinguished yourself in the way that you have carried out the mission given to us by Jesus, with enthusiasm, commitment, hard work and, yes, a sense of humour.”

“I extend heartfelt thanks to you for all that you have done to develop and promote missionary awareness in this country. I am fully confident that you hand over a vibrant office to your successor, Father Bernard Espiritu.”
Archbishop John Dew spoke of the words of Pope Benedict, as last year the Holy Father thanked the Pontifical Mission Societies for their indispensible service in promoting involvement in the missionary activity of the Church, by saying “I think we can very easily take the first part of the Holy Father’s words and apply them to Fr Paul Shannahan. I thank him for the indispensible service in promoting involvement in the missionary activity of the Church.”

In thanking his colleagues and supporters Fr Shannahan said “Your prayerful and sometime financial support is much appreciated. My faith has been immensely enriched by the missionaries I have met overseas as well as meeting priests and committed people like you who love Christ and the Church. We have been fortunate to have Fr Bernard Espiritu SVD as new National Director who will, I am sure, bring a fresh impetus to animating us in our own efforts to live and share Christ Jesus.”

As it was the last day of May – Mary’s Month the incoming Director Fr Bernard Espiritu spoke of Mary’s prayer of thanksgiving the Maginificat as a prayer of a grateful heart to the Heart that cares and does not forget.
“In the spirit of Mary’s gratefulness – thank you for your continuous care to make the missionary work of the Church live on. Your generosity begets grateful hearts in mission lands,” Fr Espiritu said

“I’d like to thank too Fr Shannahan who has dedicatedly served MISSIONZ during the past five years.” Fr Espiritu said

MISSIONS is the New Zealand office providing for the Pontifical Missions Societies ie Propagation of the Faith, St Peter the Apostle and Holy Childhood / Children Helping Children. It is connected with the New Zealand Bishop's Conference and Bishop Owen Dolan is the accredited Episcopal Vicar. The office is Wellington based and is affiliated with 120 National Directors of PMS worldwide.

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Photo captions:
(L-R) Fr Bernard Espiritu incoming National Director of MISSIONZ with his predecessor Fr Paul Shannahan.