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/\Our History

Like all communities, our very own Parish also has an amazing history.  

The information you will read is dedicated

 

To the honour of God.

 

To Saint Therese who was born in Lisieux, Normandy in France, and is patroness of our parish.

 

To blessed Mary MacKillop, whose charisma and vision is evident in our parish school.

 

To the parish priests and religious who dedicated themselves unstintingly for the growth and welfare of our parish community.

 

To the faithful, who in sacrifice and vision bequeathed us our heritage.

 

To the future, that the toil of today may yield the harvest of tomorrow.

The historical information on this page as well as the subsequent sub-pages will also be updated from time to time as more information is available.

It is inevitable that omissions and inaccuracies may have occurred in these pages and for those apologies are offered. As many names as possible have been recorded because the parish is proud of all those whose inspiration, leadership and vision have created the parish. 

 

IN THE BEGINNING

 

The First Labour Government which was determined to provide modest and affordable housing, embarked on a great building programme immediately prior to the war and, indeed, continued the policy during the war years. As the war drew to a close, it was obvious that the Balmoral parish of Good Shepherd would spawn another parish. It was to the credit of Dean Murphy that part of a farm, known locally as Peck's Paddocks, on the south side of Mt Albert Road was purchased. War-time restrictions and shortages caused problems but the Dean and his assistant, Father Lenihan, canvassed donations, organised fund­raising endeavours and rallied the true pioneering spirit of working bees. The early pioneers gave of their time, their sweat, their labour, their supply of fresh scones; each contributed, each happy to build a new parish.

1946

On March 31, 1946, Bishop James Liston celebrated the first Mass in the parish of Saint Therese at 9.30 a.m.The founding priest, Father Joe Rodgers, was stationed at the presbytery of St Benedict's. It must have been a truly moving occasion for him because it was the beginning of four decades spent in this new parish. It was a humble beginning but so was the start of Christ's life in a humble stable. The church itself was a Y.M.C.A. hut from the military camp; the pews were backless benches of pine and the kneelers were non-existent. Yet, for the 180 people present, the fact that the parish had officially begun was a cause of intense pride. The first person to be baptised was Jillian Mathews and the first nuptials in the parish were for Jean Stubbs and Allan Chapman.

 

Before long the bishop wrote to Bob Semple, the Minister of Public Works, asking to purchase over an acre of the land the government had bought from the Wesley Training College Board for further state housing. This request was conceded and 4 acres 3 roods were purchased the following year at a cost of 1280 pounds. A further 2.5 acres were purchased in 1950 for 465 pounds. It was opportune buying and ensured the growth of a parish and school community.  

In May of the same year 53 children were enrolled by Sister Norbert and Sister Agneta. Reading the surnames of the first pupils brings back memories. Some families shifted away while others remained in the parish for years and are easily recalled. Do you remember these names: Music, Mallinson, the Wareing and the Nicholson girls, Cook, Bishop, Courtney, Collett, Topliss, Boreham, Bosley, Dick, Pedlar, Le Sueur, Scully, Gawne, Marsh, Pearson? The two Josephite sisters were stationed at St Benedict's and took the tram daily to the old tram terminus at the junction of Mt Albert Road. They then walked from the terminus to the parish school and at the end of a full working day faced the lengthy return trip to Symonds Street. This was pioneering spirit in action and worthy of the founder of the Josephite order, Blessed Mary MacKillop.  

The church itself doubled as parish convent school at that time. This meant that on Sunday afternoons all pews had to be stacked under the church and the desks set up for classes. The latter were removed on Saturday and replaced by the pews in readiness for the Sunday services. The effort and physical struggle appears daunting to us today yet such a challenge was generously taken up by the early parishioners. One recalls some of the names of those tireless men:

Jim McConnell, Captain Kennedy, Dinny Sullivan, Chas O'Connor, Herb Moran, Brian Weaver, Cyril Law and Cyril Schischka.

The children were quickly taught their catechism and no doubt can still patter off the responses to the theological questions. So when their preparation was completed, the children received their First Holy Communion. In those days there was no parish hall so Mr Wareing, a non-Catholic who had two daughters at the school, kindly offered the fire station on Mt Albert Road for the children's party. One wonders what would have happened had there been an emergency call. No doubt the children would have taken it in their stride especially the boys who were well used to chasing cows which had strayed onto the school grounds back to the paddocks where Bremner Avenue now is.

1951

At the time that the state housing was further developed in Bremner and Milliken Avenues, another 3.5 acres were purchased for the sum of 600 pounds. The ever generous Tom Locke built a four-roomed school block in fibrolite and the basement was used as a clubroom. The playground was asphalted and doubled as a carpark for the parishioners attending Mass. The opening of the new school block on April 8 was a grand affair. Archbishop McKee fry of Wellington, Bishop Kavanagh of Dunedin as well as Archbishop Liston of Auckland attended. It was a considerable achievement to have a building used exclusively for a church. Paths, playing grounds, fields and parking areas were formed; debts were liquidated; and a sense of real achievement and pride permeated the youthful parish. Names of the old identities in the parish come to mind such as Zita Nicholson, Pat and Joan Molloy, Thelma and Stan Smolenski, Jim and Val McConnell, Tom and Alma Greaney, Mrs Chris Bolton, Mrs Erin Leslie, Mrs Bosley, the Matthews family, Bill and Marie Kennedy, Hugh and Julia Kelly, the Tollichs, the Draffins, Jack and Betty Hawkins, etc. The list seems never-ending!

1952 

Yet pride comes before a fall- a whirlwind in May 1952 lifted a seventy foot wide section off the school roof and dashed our pride. The forlorn building featured in The Auckland Star and the insurance covered the 500 pound damage. There was a deep sense of personal dismay and loss. However the parish restored the building and the sisters continued their lessons with renewed energy. Records show that there were three nuns: Sisters Norbert, Philomena and Michael who had the responsibility of teaching 151 pupils. No mean feat at all. The following year the roll had burgeoned to 160. Sister Aloysius joined the staff but Sister Philomena was transferred. There was a desperate plea for an increase in the teaching staff, but how often have teachers in the private and the state sectors been promised unrealised relief!

In October a property at 465 Mt Albert Road was offered for sale, so without hesitation George Joseph and Tom Locke viewed the house and paid a deposit of 100 pounds to secure it. This meant that Father Joseph Rodgers, who had since 1946 rented a house at 48 Balmoral Road, could now become a resident priest. In fact, the presbytery was to be his home for the rest of his life.

1953

Good times and bad often come together and so it was in August. The parishes of Henderson and Papakura joined us to launch the Weekly Raffle. It was an immediate and spectacular success to all three parishes. It was a boon beyond all expectations and provided a healthy fund for future building development. It was not achieved without the absolute loyalty, persistance and energy of the raffle book sellers. Does anybody really enjoy trying to sell off books of raffle tickets especially after weeks and weeks of doing so. Yet the parishioners showed the grit of those pioneering days. They had a goal; they realized their targets. The feast of the Assumption, which is normally a festive day in the liturgical calendar, was the harbinger of grief and dismay. Our parish priest was struck down by spinal meningitis which he is said to have contracted in the confessional. He made slow progress but when he returned to his beloved flock, his hearing and of course his balance were impaired. During this worrying period the parish was well served by Father John Mackey, who was later to become the bishop of Auckland until, in his turn, he suffered a serious health problem. It was at that time that Peter McConnell became the regular and often sole altarboy at the first Mass on Sundays. This role was to last some four years. Michael Farnan and Brian O'Connor were also altarboys in the fifties. 

1954

The sisters continued their daily expedition from St Benedict's in fine weather and foul. Imagine the daily trudge along the windswept Mt Albert Road, in full habit and laden with teaching materials! But this year was one long prayed for and the credit is claimed by Sister Norbert. She is reputed to have placed a religious medal under the hedge next to the school just before she was transferred to Matamata. In November 1954, the home of Mr and Mrs Wareing in 7 Frost Road came on the market and was snapped up by the parish for three thousand pounds. The valiant and tireless sisters had at last come to stay.

There were now 192 pupils at the school and the resident staff were Sisters Josephine, Celine, Andrew and the postulant, Bernadette. The following year another sister made her presence felt. She appeared to be scurrying to Mass but seemed to have a cold disposition. Yes, a statue of St Therese was erected to the immediate right hand side of the church entrance. The original statue is metal and much smaller. It stands in the gardens of the Villa of the Propaganda College at Albano in Italy. Our version still stands as a reminder to attend Mass and to arrive on time. 

1955

In the new year the parish was honoured in welcoming an assistant priest to help Father Rodgers. He was a young, unassuming Irish priest who had a sweet tooth and although he found delivering sermons a gigantic chore, his quiet and sincere homeliness made him a popular priest in our parish. Father Hugh Smith was able to visit the parishioners initially on foot and later by bike. It was a shame that he could not have a motorbike as did his brother, who was assistant priest at the parish of St Benedict's.

The Vincent de Paul Society was founded. The society has a long and varied history in our parish. Names of members over the years include: Mesdames Phillips, Stevens, Travaglia, Harvey, Lorraine Smith, Gertie Le Sueur, Des Sarsfield and Vince Stevens. This society has helped the needy in the parish and visited the prisoners in gaol.


March 13, 1955 was a red letter day; it saw the opening of the new church. George Tole designed and Tom Locke built a new nave at right angles to the old army surplus hut which now became the sanctuary, sacristy and the side altars. The modem echelon style with a huntly brick interior and beautiful parquet floor in the sanctuary together with a pleasant choice of pine, sycamore and rimu breathed a feeling of achievement, repose, quiet and prayer. The well-chosen Latin quotes from the psalms call us constantly to prayer. The cost of the new church was some 6000 pounds while the furniture added another 2000 pounds. An exquisite stained glass window featuring the nativity scene with the Magi underlined the fact that we are the Three Kings parish. There is therefore a marriage of the geographical and theological themes. This was the masterful work of the Dutchman, Martin Roestenburg. He was an expert in glass work, a painter in oils and an inspired teacher. He was later to become the curator of the Palmerston North Gallery but sadly passed away in the mid 60's. So impressed was the nation with this large full length window that it was reproduced in the 1973 Christmas stamp issue, when there was a campaign to put Christ back into Christmas. 

In the same year further additions were made to the presbytery. This was to provide a flat for May Harris who was Father Rodgers' housekeeper from 1946 until her death in 1966.

1956

This year saw another building programme. A modern toilet block and two spacious classrooms, both in brick, were erected. These were necessary additions because the school roll had increased to 350 pupils. September of that year witnessed an extraordinarily large number of confirmations taking place. 180 were confirmed.

1958

The building fever continued. The convent was enlarged to afford accommodation for three more sisters and in August the men of the parish crowned all this rich endeavour by building the parish hall mainly from voluntary labour. It was a solid, attractive, aesthetically pleasing hall and, to boot, was the largest parish hall in the diocese.

The St Therese bowling club was started. Ada Phillips, Gertie Le Sueur, Cyril Schischka, Norma and Dennis Sullivan, Bill Croul, W. Moyle, W. Fugue, J. Lawson, B. Boreham, L.Wright, M.Comrie, and J.Hawkins were some of the keenest players. The honours board in the parish hall provides an excellent record of the office bearers and champions of the bowling club and is well worth consulting. Mr Sullivan always played a very important role in the parish as manager of the hall, collector, builder, and fair committee man. In fact he exemplified many of the original parishioners. He and they gave generously of their time and expertise.

In twelve years the embryonic parish of St Therese on an exposed hill overlooking farm paddocks, a babe in swaddling clothes, had grown into a strong and youthful parish with an important cluster of debt-free buildings boasting a church, a convent, a presbytery, a school, and a parish hall. In turn, it became the mother church for a daughter parish of St John Vianney, which was built on land acquired in Hillsborough. Twelve years of growth; years of toil and endeavour.

There was growth and expertise on the playing field too. The school's 14th grade rugby team coached by John Moran won its grade championships.

1960

Financing the parish and diocesan schools was becoming an increasingly worrying burden. The inability of religious orders to provide teachers in the schools meant the increasing employment of lay teachers. This development was of considerable importance but it came as another financial burden. Election campaigns were used to gain sympathy and promises from the politicians but it was not until integration that the schools found real relief. The early days of the Weekly Raffle were highly successful but after two years it was less popular and returns dwindled considerably. Yet the parish had mortgages to clear, deferred maintenance to attend to and improvements needed to be made. Clearly the parish was in financial stress. It was at this time that a new system was introduced, a method of planned giving, known as "The Pledge System". This meant that the parish had a good general knowledge of what income it would likely receive over a period of three years. Men such as: J. Rosser, W. Robinson, D. Joseph, and N. Bell led the campaign and headed a faithful group to invite personally all parishioners to a parish meal at the Manhattan Rooms at Dominion Road. There was a real family feeling at the festive gathering; the pledge system was launched; almost 13000 pounds was pledged over three years; the parish was well and truly put on its feet. 

When Father Smith was transferred to another parish, Father Pierre Denzil Meuli replaced him as assistant priest. He was an earnest curate who prepared his written sermons meticulously. Although tending to be lengthy, they showed remarkable erudition. After only a short sojourn in the parish, he left for further study and experience in Italy. Buona Viaggia!

 

THE DRUMM YEARS

Father Maurice Drumm was the next assistant priest who was also a former pupil of St Peter's College. This was a period of stability. The school roll topped 300. Parish finances were continuously in credit. In 1963 they had risen to £8258. The school was unable to cater for all the pupils wishing to avail themselves of a Catholic education and so the CCD programme was initiated. On Tuesday evenings a gallant group of men including the O'Connor and McConnell families collected children attending public schools and drove them to the parish school for an hour's instruction and returned them home afterwards. It was a second best programme but certainly had its merits.

Keen to develop more parish spirit, Father Drumm inaugurated annual parish picnics. The first one was held at Rangitoto. The sisters too joined in and Mass was celebrated under the pohutukawas, perhaps reminiscent of Bishop 
Pompallier's day. There were also races and, indeed, trophies for the winners. The curate won the three-legged race and a mature Jim McConnell, given a few yards start, was able to win the 100 yards race. 

Those years saw the first old boy to be ordained. Father Brian Playfair attended standards 3 and 4 at the school, and celebrated his first Mass on July 6 1962. Father Rodgers was intensely proud of this occasion. Father Drumm introduced the sodality of the Children of Mary. The diocese convened a Commission on the Laity and this led to pastoral, diocesan and regional councils. Kay Harvey and Peter McConnell were the parish's representatives for a number of years on the Regional Pastoral Council which used to meet at the Avondale parish. Father Rodgers introduced the practice of the congregation reciting the whole of the Lord's prayer in Latin. It was a bold innovation but in what seemed no time at all the laity was reciting the prayer voluminously.It was time for Father Drumm to seek fresh fields and his own parish. He received a warm farewell in the parish hall, and he was loud in praise of the parish and, in particular, of Father Rodgers for awakening in him a great love of scriptural erudition.

THE ARAHILL YEARS

Father Brian Arahill came to us from Hamilton in 1965 and quickly dispensed with the loud speaker in the church. He did not need one; he was one. The practice of having parish picnics continued.

The parish school enjoyed considerable success through the expertise of its teaching staff and parental help. Photos of sporting successes of that time show that the D basketball team won the championships in 1965; the same year the school won a shield and cup for athletics at the Three Kings Domain. In 1968 the school was runnerup in the A grade basketball championships, and won the B and C grades. Father Arahill encouraged the adoption of a mission station in Sigatoka in Fiji.

 

At a later date Namosi became our adopted mission parish in that country. The parish held fairs to fundraise and the school became involved too. The children organised talent shows and happy activities to make their contribution. It was at that time too that Joan O'Connor was fundraising to support an impoverished priest in Tanzania. She had initially been in contact with him as a pen friend but when he became a seminarian she and her family took a close interest in his progress. She was able to buy for him a motorbike so that he could visit his farflung parish. This personal and parochial tie lasted many years and on two occasions it was a joy for Father Choka to visit NZ. The first time the O'Connor family shouted him a trip here for the golden wedding anniversary of Charlie and Joan O'Connor, and the second time Father Choka came to NZ on a refresher course. So Father Blake invited him to stay at the presbytery and be in the parish which knew him. Some parishioners too were able to visit our mission station friends in Fiji.

 

Never shy to use his strong voice, Father Arahill began the adult choir for Christmas and Easter devotions. Petitine-Anne Croul had a particularly sweet soprano voice and on a number of Good Fridays we were moved by her rendering of "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

Father Arahill was promoted to St Patrick's Cathedral as administrator. He was later honoured with the title of monsignor and subsequently in charge of St Michael's in Remuera.

THE MURRAY YEARS

With the departure of Father Arahill in 1969, it was appropriate that our next assistant priest should be Father Paddy Murray. He was born in County Down in 1931 and educated at All Hallows and at the University College, Dublin. After serving at the Cathedral, he worked as an assistant editor at the Zealandia from 1962 to 1969 when he became briefly the editor. He was initially better known by the school community because he had helped teaching music in the school before becoming our assistant priest. He had a rich melodious voice and even in conversation the lilt of his Irish accent warmed his listeners to him. He shared a great interest with Father Rodgers and could reputedly discuss winners and losers at Ellerslie for hours.

A practice of honouring the aged began under Father Murray. The Women's Committee including Val McConnell, Lorraine Smith, Maureen Kneebone, Mollie Hogan, Gertie Le Sueur, Norma Sullivan and Margaret Farnan rallied to prepare an appetising afternoon tea after a type of variety show was presented. Father Murray always sang and the outing for the elderly was always most appreciated.

In 1969 the parish account had a healthy credit of38000 pounds and it was time for another burst of major building and renovation. The old army hut that had given excellent service as a church, a school and a sanctuary with side altars was demolished and a new transept in the style of the nave was erected. Further Latin inscriptions were set into the frieze proclaiming the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

The creator of the much admired stained glass window of the Magi in the porch had passed away but Josephine Donovan, a lecturer at the Ardmore Training College, had bought his business and she produced windows for the transept. The theme of the smaller windows depict visually what the Latin inscriptions proclaim Christi Caro Sanguis Fonsque Vitae Pignus (The Body and Blood of Christ are a spring and pledge of life) .The crowning glory was the central window behind the altar depicting the Risen Christ, the indispensible belief for any sincere Christian.

Again a parquet floor was chosen for the new sanctuary. True to the spirit of Vatican II the altar became the focal point of the church with the tabernacle and baptismal font having their unique and separate designated places. The baptismal font was a gift from the Pacific Islands. It was a large clam shell, a constant reminder of the contribution of the island communities in our parish.

 

At this time the sisters' habit saw modifications too. The wimple paraphernalia was dispensed with and a new wearer-friendly headdress was worn. The introduction of white habits in summer earned the nuns the nickname of "the angels". The school witnessed improvements too. A new staff room was completed and the former one became a much needed office for the principal, Sister Eugene (Sister Margaret O'Neill). A former classroom was converted to a library.

 

For the fourth consecutive year, the school won the Marcellin Shield for Athletics. Its A grade rugby team won the Knockout Cup. The school was first in the Intermediate Choral Speaking at the Auckland Competitions and third in singing. It was first in the Junior A Choral Speaking and third in the Junior B section. It also had successes in three grades in the Trinity College exams. The Annus Mirabilis was in 1971 when St Therese won the inter-school singing competitions. Father Murray was the accompanist and Sister Eugene was the conductor. This was an incredibly good result because the school was so small in comparison with the other competing schools, some of which were secondary schools. The chairman of the school committee, Martin Smith, donated a large memorial album which the pupils under the staff leadership developed into an excellent record of the first 25 years. It certainly was an impressive achievement, something to be celebrated in the 25th Jubilee Year of 1971.

 

There was certainly much to celebrate in the Jubilee year. For the service of thanksgiving Father Rodgers invited all former priests of the parish to concelebrate Mass with him. A jubilant occasion.

THE LUNJEVICH YEARS
 

In 1973 Father Murray was transferred to Fairfield where he remained for ten years before going to Te Awamutu. After a brief period of three years there he passed away in his early fifties. The next priest we welcomed to St Therese was Father Ivan Lunjevich who came as an administrator. Clearly Father Rodgers' health was still indifferent. Father Lunjevich had recently spent some time in Split to refresh his Serbo-Croatian and after six months at Meadowbank joined the Three Kings parish. He was a tall man with a dark shock of hair and a rich voice. Arthur Cole was chairman of the parish council at that time and it was a particular pleasure for Arthur to have the opportunity of working with his former classmate, the new priest. He set about teaching the parishioners to sing the Our Father in English and his patience paid handsome dividends. Parishioners well remember his placing a personal exquisite icon, which he had brought back from Dalmatia, in the sanctuary for general veneration. He was a popular priest and worked well with Father Joe. However after eighteen months the parish of Tuakau became vacant, and Father Lunjevich was transferred to his next parish.

Father Ron McKendry spent a short time in the parish. He was suffering from terminal cancer at the time, but managed to pursue his great interest in music. He produced a superb song which he entitled "April Wine" which is a lasting testimony to his faith and courage in combatting his fatal sickness. 

Father Keating also spent a short time in the parish. Having a late vocation he entered the All Hallows Seminary in Dublin and after his ordination came to NZ where he served for two decades. He was parish priest in Takapuna, Remuera, and Hamilton East before coming to our parish. He was an enthusiast for golf and bridge. He had a great devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Consequently he was spiritual director to the Legion of Mary. On leaving Three Kings Father Keating went to Huntly. He suffered very indifferent health and passed away in 1989.
 

Both these men are remembered with affection and sadness because their poor health shortened promising careers in the clergy.

Another priest who stayed briefly in the parish about this time was Father Frank O'Regan. He had a ready ear and a soothing word for troubled parishioners. When visiting his flock he frequently dropped in on the bus drivers at the ARA depot in May Road and was instrumental in deepening their faith. He left for Kopeopeo, on the outskirts of Whakatane, which was a fast growing parish. Its school is staffed by the Josephite Sisters and over the years a number of our own parish Sisters have spent teaching years at Whakatane.
 

THE QUINN YEARS

The next parish priest was Father Michael Quinn. He was an Irishman who was also trained at All Hallows. He had served in a number of parishes and joined us from Papatoetoe. It was a real thrill for him to have, in a neighbouring parish, his own brother Charles Quinn at the parish of Christ the King. He was a quiet, self ­effacing man who had a ready ear for the needs of his parishioners, a very generous soul, and was particularly loved by so many families in the parish.

Father Rodgers retired in 1976 but continued to live in the old presbytery where he immensely enjoyed visits from the older parishioners, those who had pioneered the parish with him. About that time the parish council decided that the various families should take it in turn on a fairly regular basis to invite the parish priest for Sunday dinner. This proved an excellent way to foster a greater warmth between the parish and its priest. Father was an easy person to cook for and had a wealth of Irish jokes to whet the appetite for any meal. 

On two occasions the Quinn brothers took trips back to their beloved Ireland and it was then that the parish had relieving priests. The parish was indeed grateful to the priests who filled the breach. 

Hugh Kelly, who had almost single handedly looked after the counting of the collection money and administering the pledge envelopes since the inception of the system in the parish, passed away. Peter McConnell and Roy Butler took over this task; the former supplying the envelopes and the latter recording. Frank Donohoe began a new roster of counters. 

The Legion of Mary was reconvened under the leadership of Linda Kilkenny. Her helpers were P. Sharkey, J. Smyth, F. Hehepoto and Margaret McCarthy.

Joan Dunlop joined the parish from Ponsonby and using her expertise in upholstery, she made pew cushions. When Pope John-Paul II came to Auckland, Joan made special banners for the parish in gold and white to identify the parish members at the domain gathering to welcome the Pope. Val McConnell kindly took responsibility for the church flower arrangements. Any help is gratefully received. 

Gertie Le Sueur was for many years the sacristan and kept the altarboys in check. Her strict glance quickly silenced any chatter. The ladies of the parish used to meet in the parish hall for keep fit sessions. Val McConnell, Margaret Farnan, Maude McCartney, Gertie Le Sueur, Lorraine Smith and many others took advantage of this opportunity provided by Margaret's sister-in-law, Peggie Clarke. It was a lot of fun.

Changes were made at Easter time. The custom of the priest washing the feet of representatives of the parish began and continues to this day. For a couple of years too there were Seder meals on Holy Thursday but this experiment lapsed. George Askew and Gertie Le Sueur were among the first readers at Mass and are easily remembered for the clarity of their diction. For a number of years it was felt that the nave of the church was impractical as it had only one central aisle. This fault was remedied by shortening the pews and by creating two side aisles. This meant less congestion for the reception of Holy Communion and for receiving the ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps the most dramatic changes in the school occurred in the mid 70's. The Catholic schools were all integrated into the state system of education. This meant that staff salaries were paid and so there was more financial flexibility. The school had never employed a caretaker. Admittedly Cyril Schischka had kept a watchful eye on things but it was Father Quinn who first appointed Tom Kilkenny as caretaker, a job he was to hold for some 16 years.

Monte Cecilia school now came under the aegis of the Josephite order. This meant that a car was bought to transport the sisters who were staffing Monte. The principals of Saint Therese school during this period were sisters Margaret Mary Dwane and Margaret James. 

Another innovation was that a pastoral assistant was appointed. Sister Johanna was an Irish sister of the Holy Faith Congregation who continued to wear her full habit. She was indefatigable and managed to visit every Catholic household in the parish either walking or driving her Toyota. She was much admired and set the highest standards for her two followers: Sisters Colette and Margaret Mary. The number of parishioners from the islands continued to grow, and Father Quinn encouraged their full participation in the parish. So it was that the Tongan and Samoan communities lead the singing with their ethnic choirs at the second Mass on a fairly regular basis. Their natural ability to sing strongly is much admired.

In response to a plea for help from the Franciscan Friars a group of ladies of the parish go to the friary twice a week, normally before and after the weekend retreats, to prepare and tidy up the rooms for the retreatants. This is voluntary work given freely and generously. Each year the friars show their appreciation with a special banquet which is certainly much appreciated by the faithful band of ladies, who included Val McConnell, Julia Kelly, Thelma Smolenski, Lorraine Smith, Marissa Travaglia and Joan O'Connor.

Father Quinn's health was indifferent and he found the changes in society distressing. The loss of his brother left a grieving sorrow in his heart. "The old order changeth yielding place to new" but Tennyson was not a source of comfort. He was disturbed by the pro-abortion campaign, by the Socialists sweeping to power and by the changes in the religious orders. He retired but waited for his replacement to return from Bologna. There seemed to be a hiccup in communication and nobody seemed sure whether the replacement was coming or not. A beautifully warm and sincere farewell was given to Father Quinn in the parish hall. There was no doubt that he left on a wave of popularity. 

 

Father shifted into a small house in Mangere so that he could be chaplin at Middlemore Hospital. The property had few enormous trees which needed felling and a house that needed tidying so the McConnell family spent several weekends helping Father to settle in. However, weariness of spirit overtook him and six days before Christmas he passed away.

THE MEULI YEARS

Our next Parish Priest was Father Denzil Pierre Meuli who had spent the intervening years away from Three Kings adding two doctorates to his qualifications. As his earlier years promised, he was a cleric of extraordinary scholarship and one absolutely dedicated to the principle of prayer. He was determined to make the parish an inspiration of prayerful endeavour in Auckland.

Within a year of his return to our parish Father Rodgers, for years known affectionately as Father Joe, passed away. As was befitting, the church was packed with clergy, religious and parishoners to pay their respects. Monsignor Arahill gave an inspired eulogy at the requiem and was perspicacious in bringing into his speech the Latin inscriptions of the nave. They had been specially chosen by Father Rodgers for his church and so it was appropriate that they featured in the final tribute to the founder of the parish. Peter McConnell, John Rosser and Dennis Sullivan were among the pall bearers. At the grave-side the last post was played because Father Joe had been an army chaplain; red poppies were scattered over the casket; and the Salve Regina was melodiously intoned. The final tribute then was in the language the priest loved so passionately, the language he had been trained in when in Rome in the thirties.

Father Meuli planned to have perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and with his proverbial determination he succeeded. He began by having such a devotion on Saturday nights and Sundays. He then gradually extended the times until the whole week was dedicated to continuous prayer. This was a fine achievement. Needless to say the bill for candles was frighteningly high, and the electrical light fittings burnt out because of unrelieved use. Yet the parish became a Mecca for prayer, an oasis which attracted people from all over Auckland. It seemed that Three Kings had become a centre of pilgrimage.

The Last Gospel was reintroduced and the prayers at the foot of the altar for the conversion of Russia were reinstated. Every Mass was prefixed by the recital of the Rosary. The sermons became lengthy - lengthy lectures in theology. The laity became exposed to incredible amounts of high powered learning. Who could ever forget, who could possibly want to forget the brilliant and inspired sermons on the crucifixion and the full import of the physical suffering of that diabolical punishment? Father Meuli had the interior of the presbytery redecorated and a modem twin Kent wood fireplace installed. He was an enthusiast for the Latin Mass and petitioned Rome for a clarification of rulings concerning the continued use of Latin in the Mass. This document was written in English and in Latin, and certainly showed evidence of deep legal training and a thorough grasp of minutiae.

The parish had become involved in the spreading of the faith too through the Catholic Enquiry Centre. George Askew who was a convert to catholicism had managed this link with the propagation of the faith but when he passed away Lorraine Smith took over this responsibility and has for over a decade been in charge of the group of supporters of this movement within the parish.

One of the major changes in the parish community was the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph from Frost Road to their new accommodation in Olsen Avenue. They continued to work in the school until the end of 1987, when lay teachers became responsible for the education of the children.

In 1988 Father Meuli was encouraged to form his alternative ministry in the Waitakere Ranges and it is there that he continued to draw a congregation from all over Auckland.

THE BLAKE YEARS
 

The next priest to serve our parish is the present incumbent, Father David Blake. He came to us from the Meadowbank parish in February 1989 where he was noted for his deep and productive involvement in church music and in this regard had the honour of working with the late Dr Douglas Mews. He had won admiration for his meticulous work as the founder of the CPC - Catholic Publications Centre, and continues to produce Mass and psalm books as well as other devotional works andCatholic literature.

His boundless interest in gardening soon manifested itself and in no time the rather stark church grounds took on a more nature- friendly aspect. Beds of flowers and shrubs were enthusiastically planted. Some sceptics looked askance at the volume of planting but Father's quiet determination won through. A small building was removed from the convent grounds and resited behind the presbytery. It serves as a parish centre. Now that the sisters had moved from the old convent to Olsen A venue, it was time to reassess what was to be done with the Frost Road property. Arthur Cole played an important role in the development. Four modem townhouses were built on the property; one of which became the new presbytery. The other three houses were sold and paid for the total development of the site.John McNally's expertise was soon tapped for landscaping and planting the property. John chaired the jubilee committee and is the usher at the second Mass on Sundays.

Following the passing away of Kay Harvey, who was the first woman to chair the parish council, her children made an important decision. Damian and Margaret had spent their formative years at the school and wanted to leave some reminder of their family in the church. It was decided to donate a Christmas crib. The actual figures were selected by Father Blake when abroad and sent back to NZ. So each year we are reminded of this meaningful legacy by the Harvey family.

As recognition of Gertie Le Sueur's long involvement in the parish, she was awarded a papal blessing. Although she no longer lives in the parish and had a spell of a number of years away from Three Kings, she has lived in the area since the 1930s. There is one family only which can claim to be foundation members of the parish and has remained continuously parishioners for over 50 years - Jim, Val and Peter McConnell.

The church itself was altered too. The sacristy was remodelled and made more functional. The small electronic organ which Mary and Catherine Krippner used to play was replaced by a seven rank mechanical action pipe organ. While the Krippner sisters were making their musical contribution in the parish, their brother Bill served as an altar boy. Mrs Joy Donohoe and Mrs Marie Simmons have become adept at handling the new organ and usually play at the second Mass on Sundays. The gospel side of the main chapel was carpeted and made into a side altar for weekday Mass. The numbers of those attending daily Mass, which had burgeoned in Father Meuli' s time, warranted this special attention. The recitation of the rosary continues before the Masses. On weekdays Joyce Smyth, Phyllis Sharkey, Val McConnell, Bill Krippner, Jim McConnell, and Jose Krippner lead the rosary. At the first Mass on Sundays it is Joan Ritchie who takes that role. The server at daily weekday Mass was Jim McConnell. This practice began in the time of Father Quinn and continues. Jim was also the collector at the first Mass on Sundays, a task he shared with his son, Peter. The number of church readers was increased and the special ministers, who had been introduced by Father Keating, began offering Holy Communion under both species.

The church fairs have continued under the capable leadership of Linda Kilkenny. Mr Luc Marie, who has served on the school board also specializes in the wheel at the fairs. Linda's tireless contribution to the parish is specially appreciated as was her determination to celebrate Father Blake's 70th birthday. The celebration which continued in the parish hall was significant for being truly representative of the multi-cultural parish which we have become. A beautiful cake was made by Nell Graham, and Father was presented with a memorial album with the photos of all parishioners together with witty captions. The children of the parish offered Father flowers and a lei of lollies. In a way this garland represented the various ethnic groups in our parish all united around the parish priest. Besides the Maori families and those whose forebears lived in the United Kingdom and Ireland, we have in the parish families from Holland, Fiji, Mauritius, Iraq, Goa, Hong Kong, Korea, China, South Africa, the Philippines, India, the Cook Islands, Rarotonga, Samoa and Tonga. What linguistic talent! What richness of ethnic diversity! What a source of strength in our parish!

Sister Margaret Mary, a former principal at the parish school, returned to the parish as pastoral assistant. It was a real joy to see her return because she was well respected as a teacher. She manifests great energy and enthusiasm in helping the parish priest and has a deep maternal concern for all members of the parish. A strong group of supporting parishioners gathered round the Josephite community during the time leading up to the beatification of their foundress, Blessed Mary MacKillop. A small contingent of parishioners including Val and Andy Tollich and Jose and Bill Krippner joined the sisters in Australia for the unique ceremonies, and we were privileged in having Bill Krippner carry the NZ banner in the Mary MacKillop chapel service. The group continued to meet regularly at the convent to foster knowledge of and devotion to the foundress of the Josephites.

There have been two renewal campaigns for the pledge system during the time that Father Blake has been the parish priest. Claude Swinbourn, a parishioner of Meadowbank where Father Blake was before coming to us, has master­minded the campaigns. The visitors and helpers include the ubiquitous Kel Harvey, Babs Lyons, the Krippners, Peter McConnell and Mike Wylie.

Following the reappraisal of the order of sacraments, Sister Margaret Mary gathered a group of interested parishioners to attend a special conference on such matters and introduced the changes to the parish. It was felt that the congregation should be made aware entirely of the changes and the reasons for them because winds of change have a habit of becoming tornadoes. Peter McConnell was asked to give two addresses at the Sunday Masses to explain the reasons for the changes as well as preparing parents of children making their first Holy Communion, Confirmation and Reconciliation. Marie Simmons played an important behind-the-scenes role in the changes. Greg and Maryanne Hall whose sons have served as altarboys so regularly over recent years, Jo Noble, Kim Thetadig, Mele Vatuvei, Hila'atu Tuli and Sister Margaret Mary had taken on the task of preparing the children receiving the sacraments. There is certainly involvement by the laity in more and more of those areas which were once the domain of the religious and clergy.

Our spiritual life centres on our parish church, modest and somewhat stark in its exterior but resplendent inside with truly magnificent stained glass windows and the inspirational Latin inscriptions. The role of the church as mother and teacher is obvious in the cluster of buildings. The generously proportioned parish hall is a real asset. The new presbytery stands pristine and vigilant, overlooking the church and the grounds of the parish school. 

Yes, the parish has developed magnificently in permanent buildings over the years. Even more so, there has been, and often imperceptible, a deeply spiritual maturity of its parishioners. We walk in the way of the Lord and are nourished by Him.

A time indeed for reflection and sincere thanksgiving to Almighty God and to our special patron saint, who promised to spend her heaven doing good on earth.

"0 Dieu qui avez embras'e de votre Esprit d'Amour l'ame de Sainte Therese de L 'Enfant-Jesus, accordez-nous de vous aimer et de vous faire beaucoup aimer. "

 God, yau who fired the soul of St Therese with Your divine love, allow us to love You deeply and to make You loved greatly. Amen

 

LATIN INSCRIPTION

INSIDE THE CHURCH OF ST THERESE

CHRISTI CARO SANGUIS FONSQUE VITAE PIGNUS

 

This inscription in the transept of the church means Christ’s Body and Blood and the baptismal font, the assurance of life.

It is significant that the very first word should be a reaffirmation of the reason for our attendance at church. Christi means of Christ, belonging to Christ, and that is surely what we are, namely Christ’s followers, Christians.

Caro means flesh, the human body. Through the incarnation, Christ took a human body. He became truly human. The stained glass window in the porch portrays the adoration of the incarnate God by the Gentiels, the Three Wise Men.

Sanguis means blood, the life of the body. Immediately we respond to the bloody death of Christ on the cross, the epitome of sadistic torture perpetrated by the Romans on those whom they judged criminals. It is pertinent that directly beneath these three words, Christi Caro Sanguis, there should be a crucifix which represents where Christ’s Body and Blood were separated. Christ shed all His blood and indeed even the final drops of water, as Mozart reminds us in his immortal motet, Ave Verum Corpus. Symbolically too, during the Mass, the celebrant mixes wine with a drop of water. The mere water is the congregation completely absorbed in the wine, the blood of Christ.

The stained glass windows remind us of the Consecration, the fruits of the earth, the bread and the grapes, which become the Body and Blood of Christ through the miracle of Transubstantiation. After all the words Hic est enim Corpus Meum mean For this My Body and not the timid This represents My Body.

Christ was slaughtered on Calvary, yet above Christ’s alter is Christ triumphant, risen from the dead, triumphant over death. Resurrexit sicut dixit. He is risen as He said He would; he is risen as it was predicted He would. The tabernacle too is not placed by accident where it is. It represents the sealed home for Christ’s Body. It represents the tomb from which he rose on Easter Sunday.

The baptismal font is the entrance ticket of humanity into the body corporate of the church, the mystical body of the Church militant. Without it, aspirant Christians must rely on Baptism of Fire, or Baptism of desire. The font is deeply symbolic as a cleanser, a freeing up of the soul to be fit to follow Christ. It recalls also the basic manners of etiquette and hygiene to wash before something important. It reminds us also of the Baptism of Christ, a perfect and sinless man who nevertheless accepted baptism from his cousin. At the moment of His Baptism the heavens opened and the Paraclete was heard to say This is My beloved Son. Consequently just above the font the stained glass window illustrates this scriptural reference.

Vitae Pignus means the assurance and pledge of life, of everlasting life, the life of a Christian, eternal life. That is the pledge of Christ; that is the advantage of the font; that is the indispensable necessity of the font. It is vital, a necessity for thevitality of a Christian. Consequently, the stained glass windows and the inscriptions along the transept of the church form an enlightening visual and permanent guide for the parishioners. It is a permanent reaffirmation of our Catholic beliefs, and a permanent sermon, ever enriching, appealing to our heart and brain, our emotions and our reasoning.

 

MANE ASTABO ET VIDEBO QUONIAM AD TE ORABO DOMINE

 

These two quotations, taken from the fifth psalm, are engraved on either side of the nave. Their meaning is: In the morning I shall stand near you, and I shall see you because I shall pray to you, Lord.

The very first word reminds the congregation of when it gathers at church. The first hour of the first day in the week is particularly dedicated to God. His worship takes priority over other obligations. It is God’s hour, a time we manifest our corporate belief in God and publicly reaffirm it. Not all parishioners are able to attend dawn Mass and so other times are offered in the firm belief that Mass should be available for all and in all circumstances. Our personal private prayers at home are reinforced, and our batteries are recharged by our collective communal prayers in the house of God. It is therefore a linking of the two houses, ours and His. After all Domus mea domus orationis est = My house is the house of prayer. There shall be no manana, no procrastination. It is now, this morning : Mane.

The three verbs : astabo, videbo and orabo = I shall stand near you, I shall see you and I shall pray to you, are all in the future tense and point forward to something. However, note the order! The effort must be to stand by Christ, to be a Christian, to be a witness to His message. Make a stand! The very word astabo pivots on the stem sta. Even those incidents on the Way of the Cross which stand out are called stations, places we stop and stand to recollect details of Christ’s final journey to Calvary.

When we make the effort of standing near Christ and for Christ, we are promised we shall see him. This calls for concentration. We can all plead guilty of hearing people but not listening to them. Sometimes their words do not even penetrate our minds. We shall be in His presence and we shall see Him. This appears a little self evident but think of the opposite! We shall not see if we do not approach God meaningfully. The godless are abandoned, alone, out of sight. Their eyes do not see.

But what other assurance is there that we shall see God? The answer is given forthwith. It is boldly inscribed in the words : quoniam orabo tibi, Domine = Because I shall pray to you, Lord. Some of us recall the constant exhortation of the celebrant in the Latin Mass Orate, fratres = Pray, brethren but now replaced by the inclusive Let us pray!

The last word of the inscription is Domine which means Lord, the dominant master of a household, a master of slaves, one so superior as to dominate others. Hence the one who dominates and masters the life and soul of a Christian is Christ. My Lord and my God was the moving declaration of St. Thomas. The first word of the inscriptions is Christi = of Christ and the last is Domine = Lord. This again is symbolic of God. I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the start and the finish. I embrace all. I am everything; there is nothing else that is necessary, nothing else that is needed.

The First Testament and the New are therefore graphically united in this visually didactic illustration of our beliefs and a poignant reminder of what our Christian purpose and needs are. The message of the inscriptions and the illustrative representations of the stained glass windows are there to instruct and to remind us of our Christian faith.

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                           Peter McConnell (2/12/1984)

 

 

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