28 July 2017 » Home > The Blake Years
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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 and Catholic 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. "

 O 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

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