As human beings we’re are interdependent on one another is all aspects of our lives, from the food we each, the clothes we wear, the way we live and learn.

In our faith journey the same is true. We all have talents to share, treasures to offer to others and time that can make a difference in another’s life. We all too, have times when we need to rely on the support and care of those around us to help us cope with some of the more challenging parts of our modern lives.

These two aspects of human living, of having times of giving and time of receiving is very much the Christian way. Our parish family is no different. At any one time there are people who have something to offer, and others who need a caring and supportive encounter with Jesus through us, his Body on earth.

The Reach Out and Care activities listed below are our response to the challenge of Jesus himself, ‘As often as you did this to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters you did it to me.’ Matt 24:40

Bereavement Support Group

Mission:
to provide support in times of loss

We all at one time or another experience times and periods of loss and grief. It may be loss through death, or a period of hardship facing serious illness such as cancer, or another infirmity; it may be the loss we feel from news of a redundancy at work. At times such as these we can feel overwhelmed with emotions, questions and uncertainty.

The Bereavement Support Group assists in supporting families and individuals through such times. This can be in form of practical help and assistance or merely by just being there beside those experiencing tough times to be a reminder that they are not alone, and that people and the parish care.

 Catholic Women’s League

Motto:
Faith and Service

The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) is a Catholic national organisation for women in New Zealand. A branch of the League meets in Our Lady of the Valley Parish on a regular basis. One important object of the League is to foster social action and to provide the voice of Catholic women in national affairs, hence its affiliation with the National Council of Women. The CWL is also affiliated to the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations.

The League gives women the opportunity to keep abreast of what is happening in this country and to be able to comment on any issue.

With a National Social Concerns Representative the CWL researches social issues and represents the organisation before Select Committees of Parliament. Branch members, throughout the country, consider these submissions and their ideas are canvassed. Catholic social teachings guide League members in their responses to the social problems of New Zealand.

 

Filipino Community

Mission:
to provide support for those in our Parish who have Filipino heritage and culture

The Parish is fortunate to have a diversity of cultures that take part in the life of the parish family. A small but vibrant Filipino community is active in the area and a Filipino choir and music group supports the Sunday Eucharist at Our Lady of Grace Church once a month.

Hospitality / Living Waters Cafe

Mission:
to be a welcoming parish to new and established parishioners and to involve all in this process

Hospitality was an important part of the early Christian churches and we strive to follow this example. This group supports initiatives of the Parish by providing hospitality and catering services for functions and events

One example is the promotion of a simple morning tea is provided following the 9:30 am and 10:00 am Masses on Sunday. It is an opportunity to take time to get to know one another over a cuppa and perhaps a biscuit and to provide a welcoming environment to visitors and new parishioners to our parish.

A roster system to serve morning tea operates. If you would like to assist please contact the Parish Office.

Men’s Group

Mission:
to provide an informal gathering for the men of the parish

The Men’s Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month for a couple of hours at the Silverstream Bowling Clubrooms. It is an informal social gathering of the men of the parish to allow for them to get to know one another in a social environment. This is no procedure to join. Just come along to one of the evenings ready to be sociable and to have a good chat with other men in the parish.

Our Lady of the Valley Prayer Groups

Mission:
to provide for the Parish a still point in a busy world where people and events are placed in a prayerful atmosphere before God

These groups within the Parish offer an opportunity to express our support and help for those in need in a prayerful and positive way. Intentions and prayers can be requested by parishioners for needs of themselves or those they care about. The intentions are passed around the individuals of the chain, who then spend time placing the intention in the hands of the God who loves and cares for us all.

Parishioners are invited not only to make use of this opportunity to be placed in God’s care, but also invited to become part of the group. Prayer intentions are commended to God in a time and place of the individual’s choosing. This ministry in the parish is a way – especially for those who are house bound or elderly – to take a real part in the support life of the parish.

There are two prayer groups in the Parish, one on Mondays and the other on Tuesday evenings.

Monday Prayer Group

Ladies Tuesday Prayer Group

A ladies prayer group is held on most Tuesday evenings in Heretaunga. On the 1st Tuesday of the month Mothers’ prayers for their children are prayed and on the other Tuesdays, whatever comes up in prayer, special intentions, our parish, schools, world issues etc. are covered in prayer. Encouragement is offered to anyone who has a special intention, to let the prayer group know and prayers can be offered for their need. There have been many answers to prayer and in everything we do, we give God the glory.

Passionist Family Groups

Mission:
to be a family for all

The Parish has a number of groups operating in the parish that involve a diversity of parishioners and their families.

The major aim is to encourage parishioners to get to know each other and for a sense of belonging care and support to be felt by each member of our parish community. The groups aim to meet monthly for an activity such as picnics, barbecues, games nights, walks, pot luck dinners etc.

Groups are made up of families, singles, young, elderly.

Activities are either “no cost” or “low cost”.

Our Mission/Motto is “A Family For All” which means no one is excluded. Whatever a person’s faith tradition, or if someone is “just looking” they are very welcome!

Pastoral Care for the Dying and Funerals

Pastoral Care for the Dying

While there are differing degrees of orthodoxy within Catholicism, Catholics commonly believe that death is the passing from the physical world to the afterlife, where the deceased’s soul will live in Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. At the end of time, when Christ returns, many Catholics believe that the bodies of the dead will be resurrected.

When a Catholic is approaching death, a priest should be brought in to administer special rites and Holy Communion to the dying person.

Pastoral Care for Those who have Died and for those who Mourn

God loved the world so much, he gave his only Son, that all who believe in him might have eternal life. (John 3: 16)

The time immediately following death is often one of bewilderment and may involve shock or heart-rending grief for the family and close friends. The ministry of the Church at this time is one of gently accompanying the mourners in their initial adjustment to the fact of death and to the sorrow this entails (Order of Christian Funerals #52).

The time between death and the funeral is seldom easy. You have to break the news to relatives and friends, meet the requirements of any will, provide personal details for the Funeral Director and, in the case of a sudden death, the Police, arrange a funeral, and be available for callers. You may even have to put aside your own grief to comfort others, especially young children.

Contact the Parish Priest as early as possible. That way the resources of the parish will be quickly available and you will be relieved of much anxiety and concern. Even if you have been away from the Church for some time you will find welcome and sympathy. You should never let fear or embarrassment keep you from the embrace of the Church, especially in this time of deep sadness and loss.

The story of the death is one you will find yourself telling over and over as people call to offer sympathy. There will also be happier moments as memories are shared. Both are important in coming to realise the enormity of what has happened. There must also be space for the story of Jesus – his death and rising to new life, his refusal to let death have the last word. As we reflect on the life of the person who has died and on the life and death of Jesus Christ, we begin to see that our loved one matters so much to God that God wants this person to live forever.

Father,
I want those you have given me
to be with me where l am,
so that they may always see the glory
you have given me because you loved me
before the foundation of the world. (John 17: 24)

The pastoral care of those who mourn continues after the funeral for as long as it is required. The Church stands beside those in need of support, comfort and assistance in their season of grief and sense of loss. It is hoped that through the ministries and support offered by the Parish family and friends who grieve will be gently helped through this period and come to realise that death is not the final word for humanity. The last word for believers is always God’s and it is always LIFE. Coming to this realization those who grieve are encouraged to see that this same God is with them in their need and speaks to them too of new life and new ways of living and trusting in the future.

Funeral Celebrations and Organisation

The Vigil

In many circumstances the vigil will be the first opportunity for friends, neighbours, and members of the local community to show their concern for the family if the deceased gathering for prayer (Order of Christian Funerals #52).

It is not uncommon for a grieving family to say, “It is our relative’s funeral, why can’t we just do what we like?” This is to misunderstand that the liturgy is the Church’s prayer. While there is room for personal preference, there are also principles to be followed.

The Vigil (prayer in the church, on the marae, in the family home or funeral parlour on the night before the funeral) is the first moment of public prayer. There may have already been times of prayer for the deceased and the family, but tile Vigil is the time for the community to gather. This can be an occasion for remembering, giving thanks, praying for forgiveness of sins and for strength and peace for the family who mourn. Ideally tile Vigil should be in the parish church, which often will have been the place where the Christian life of the deceased has been inspired and celebrated.

The structure of the Vigil Liturgy is very simple:

  1. a greeting and an opening song (well chosen music can touch people at levels words often cannot reach).
  2. Scripture and response, or some non-scriptural poems or readings (such readings are more appropriate here than at the funeral Mass).
  3. a brief homily or reflection.
  4. Intercessions.
  5. The Lord’s Prayer and
  6. a concluding prayer and a blessing.

The Rosary has been a traditional vigil prayer and this may still be the preferred choice. Some may choose a selection of Rosary meditations, readings and intercessions. People can request whatever structure suits them.

The Vigil is the proper place for tributes, eulogies and reminiscing. It is the policy of the Archdiocese of Wellington to encourage no more than one eulogy at tile funeral Mass.

In Church: Gathering In Community

At the funeral liturgy the community gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion and to seek strength in the proclamation of the paschal mystery (Order of Christian Funerals #129).

For most Catholics, a Catholic funeral service means a Requiem Mass. Simply put, the Mass is a sharing in the meal provided for us by God through Jesus. It is this sacred meal which bridges the distance between life and death. In appropriate circumstances, for example when the mourners are not Catholic or have ceased to practice the faith, there is provision for a Prayer Service (a Liturgy of the Word). However, Mass should be regarded as the norm even for suicides and for un-baptised children.

The funeral liturgy, whether of not it is a Mass, focuses on the story of Jesus. There is, of course, room for remembering the life which has just ended, but tile heart of the celebration is the hope Christ’s death and resurrection holds for all of us, and especially the fullness of life promised to the one who has died.

That belief finds its expression in word (Scripture and prayer), in song and symbol (holy water, which recalls baptism; the Easter candle, sign of Christ’s risen presence; incense to honour the holiness of human flesh and symbolising prayer ascending to God).

In the Homily, which follows the Scripture readings, the priest will share something of the hope they offer and connect the life of the person who has died with the message of the Scriptures. Confronted with the mystery of death human words are totally inadequate. Knowing this, the priest will endeavour to give relevance to the comfort and hope of God’s word. At no time is the announcement of the Good News more appropriate and more necessary than at the time of death.

The rite holds a treasury of readings and prayers, hymns and songs. Choose those which speak to your heart and memories. Remember you are offering the Church’s prayer so it must reflect the Church’s beliefs and practices. There is a further opportunity to weave your own concerns into the Prayers of Intercession. If you are unsure about preparing such prayers, then ask your priest or someone in the parish to help.

The Final Commendation concludes the Service. Here we encounter the pain of parting. The prayers express this sadness but also the hope of future reunion. This is where the symbolism of holy water and incense give tangible expression to both our sense of loss and our hope of glory.

May the angels lead you into Paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

At the Cemetery: The Moment Of Farewell

The rite (of committal) can help the mourners face the end of one relationship with the deceased and to begin a new one based on prayerful remembrance, gratitude and the hope Resurrection and reunion (Order of Christian Funerals #213).

The funeral rite calls the Rite of Committal ‘a stark and powerful expression’ of final separation in this life. This challenges any discomfort we may feel with death by urging us to stand beside the grave, face-to-face with death’s finality, but at the same time expressing hope in a life that will never end.

This part of the funeral liturgy may be celebrated at the crematorium. For centuries, Christians buried their dead, remembering that Jesus lay in a tomb. The Church continues to encourage burial, but does recognize cremation as a practical alternative to burial. Earlier, cremation was condemned by the Church as challenging Christ’s power to raise the dead, but in 1963 it was permitted for such “good reasons” as national custom, financial or hygienic concerns, or even scarcity of burial space. In 1983 the revised Code of Canon Law (Church law) reaffirmed the permission for cremation, however it “earnestly encourages” the time-honoured practice of burial, and allows cremation as long as it is not done for reasons which “contradict Christian belief’.

The committal is a short and simple service. It includes a brief Scripture reading and a blessing over the grave. The body is then entrusted to its final resting place with a powerful reminder of future resurrection. Prayers of intercession are offered for the dead and for family and friends, and the rite concludes with a blessing.

Some gesture of farewell can help bring a sense of ending to the whole process of letting go. This might be a scattering of flowers or earth over the casket, or even filling in the whole grave.

In a culture where many people leave the church service and return to their day’s business, the Catholic funeral rite encourages us to accompany the body on its final journey to the cemetery and to stand beside the grave with the mourners. The three parts of the Order of Christian Funerals – the Vigil Prayers, the Requiem Mass, and the Burial – form a single action in which the life of the deceased is lovingly remembered, the person is prayed for, and the body laid to rest with dignity.

The New Zealand Catholic Funeral is full of faith and hope. ‘The community (priest and people) seek to be with the mourner in their need and to provide an atmosphere of sensitive concern and confident faith. In prayer and gesture those present show reverence for the body of the deceased as a temple of the life-giving Spirit and ask, in that same Spirit, for the eternal life promised to the faithful (Order of Christian Funerals # 110).

Merciful Lord,
you know the anguish of the sorrowful,
you are attentive to the prayers of the humble.
Hear your people
who cry out to you in their need,
and strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness.

Prayer Chain

Mission:
to offer to those in need the prayerful support a practical way for their intentions to be placed before God.

These groups within the Parish offer an opportunity to express our support and help for those in need in a prayerful and positive way. Intentions and prayers can be requested by parishioners for needs of themselves or those they care about. The intentions are passed around the individuals of the chain, who then spend time placing the intention in the hands of the God who loves and cares for us all.

Parishioners are invited not only to make use of this opportunity to be placed in God’s care, but also invited to become part of the group. Prayer intentions are commended to God in a time and place of the individual’s choosing. This ministry in the parish is a way – especially for those who are house bound or elderly – to take a real part in the support life of the parish.

Samoan Community

Mission:
To provide support for those in our parish who have Samoan heritage and culture

The parish acknowledges that the Church is an important part of the life of Samoans both in Samoa and in New Zealand. The Parish recognises the particular pastoral needs of those parishioners who have a Samoan culture and heritage.

The Parish has two Samoan communities, one based in Stokes Valley and the other based in Heretaunga. These groups both provide a rich and supportive cultural environment for the Samoan families in our parish and share their cultural gifts and talents with the wider parish community.

Aulotu Katoliko Samoa Stokes Valley

Heretaunga Community

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

Mission:
Members of the Society aim, by person to person contact, to provide any form of help that relieve, suffering and promotes human dignity and integrity

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic organization inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Vincentians work to promote human dignity and justice through personal contact with those in need.

We support the suffering, the aged, those with disabilities or with personal crises. We also support to those who are lonely by home visits, always with the assurance of confidentiality.

To achieve these aims we work to alleviate the sufferings of poverty found all too frequently in wider Hutt Valley. Proceeds generated by the St Vincent de Paul Shop provide funding for goods and food parcels for those in need and can also be used to provide other financial assistance to those in need.

Parishioners’ support of the Society’s Foodbank is much appreciated and needed on a regular basis. Assistance to the Society can be given by volunteering to work at the shop – sorting goods, serving as counter staff or driving the truck for collection of goods and making deliveries.

The Society thanks those who support our work.

St Vincent de Paul Shop Hours:

Monday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00 am – noon

Address: 3 Scott Court, Stokes Valley

Phone: (04) 563 9278

Email: ssdpsv@xtra.co.nz

To contact the National organisation: www.svdp.org.nz

Walking Group

Mission:
to provide an informal gathering of parishioners where friendship, fitness and fun can be enjoyed

On a regular basis a group of parishioners meet outside Our Lady of Grace Church on a Monday evening to walk together on a stroll around the area. It is open to all, whatever your fitness level, and fun and friendship is more important than strength and stamina. The walk last about an hour.

Women’s Circle of Friendship

This is a friendly informal group who meet on the First Saturday of each month (from 2:00 – 4:00pm) in the Petit Centre behind Our Lady of Grace Church in Heretaunga.

Women of the parish and their friends gather for afternoon tea and to listen to interesting guest speakers or to share in various themes such as gardening, favourite recipes, hobbies or interests, holiday stories, Kiwiana themes, favourite books. The group also makes mid-winter Christmas, quilt show-and-tell. You can come along and just sit back and enjoy the company and fellowship.