There will be Catholic Bishops coming from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, the countries of the Pacific and from Australia and New Zealand. The week-long gathering is a unique time of prayer, fellowship, reflection and discussion on topics which are of concern throughout the region.
The Assembly takes place every four years in a different part of Oceania. It is a valuable opportunity for collegial support for one another.
“As we reflect on the matters of particular concern we will discuss what we are able to do to work together. We know we will be strengthened as individuals but also as a community to be a stronger voice in this part of the world. Within Oceania there are many small and isolated countries as well as small and isolated dioceses both with limited material or human resources and together we are better able to face the challenges in our region.” Says Archbishop John Dew, President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences.
(Archbishop John Dew is also the President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and will be hosting the Assembly in his Diocese.)
Workshops will cover topics about developing young people with Catholic hearts and minds, faith amid secularity and living not for ourselves but for others. The theme throughout will be evangelisation in the spirit of Pope Francis and no doubt much of the spirit of these formal and informal conversations will come from the Holy Father’s inspiring exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel.
The Assembly will open on Monday with the powhiri and opening Mass in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Wellington. On the Tuesday the bishops will visit the Home of Compassion at Island Bay, where they will learn about Suzanne Aubert and the work of the Sisters in the wider community. On the Wednesday the bishops will have Mass at St Patrick’s College with students from the Catholic colleges in the region.
It is 20 years since this Assembly was held in New Zealand when the inaugural Assembly was held in 1994 in Auckland, but it is a first for the Archdiocese of Wellington.
The Assembly marks the end of Archbishop John Dew’s four year term as President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania. A new President and Executive Committee (made up of two Bishops from each Conference) will be elected during the Assembly.
“It has been a pleasure to serve in this role and to spend time with the Bishops of this vast region of Oceania. I have been privileged to represent the Federation as President at two Synods in Rome, one on the Eastern Churches and more recently on the New Evangelisation. The next President and Executive Committee can be assured of my ongoing prayerful support.” Says Archbishop John Dew.