On 15th March 2015, Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. welcomed Fr. Ihor Kolisnyk C.Ss.R. to New Zealand and officially launched the new parish at 2 Glen Oaks, St. Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand. Fr. Ihor had only arrived in late February from the Redemptorist monastery in Lviv, Ukraine.
Ukrainians have been present in New Zealand since 1949. Priests and sisters have visited them over the years. Bishop Ivan Prasko visited New Zealand many times as did various other clergy. Recently Fr. Kevin Carroll C.Ss.R. spent a few years living in Auckland and serving the Ukrainian people throughout the county. Fr. Miles O’Malley, based in Christchurch, also served for a few years. Only last year was the parish of Blessed Nicolas formally established. The New Zealand Catholic Bishops have pledged their support and the Redemptorist Fathers from Ukraine have committed a priest on a full time basis.
The Ukrainian church in Australia has also committed itself to help support the people who are presently in New Zealand. Recently a collection was taken throughout Australia so that Fr. Ihor could buy and operate a car for his mission.
Enthusiasm is high and there is excitement amongst the people. Divine Liturgies will be celebrated two times a month in Auckland and once a month in Wellington and Christchurch. At liturgy on Sunday, it was decided that the liturgies in Auckland will be celebrated on the Gregorian calendar and in Wellington and Christchurch on the Julian calendar. Many of the people work and this will make it easier to celebrate the holidays.
Fr. Ihor has plans to get involved in the Apostleship of the Sea as there are many Ukrainians sailors on the ships that visit New Zealand. There are plans to restart the Ukrainian schools in New Zealand. Choirs are also needed. There already is a very strong Ukrainian community (Hromada) in Auckland and Wellington at present. They meet on a regular basis on various occasions. Those present expressed their joy at the prospect that there will now be a full time priest in the country. Ukrainian community life will certainly benefit.
Fr. Ihor said that the Blessed Nicholas Parish will function naturally. All parish records, births, deaths, and marriages will now be recorded and held at the parish office in Auckland.
Communication has changed or rather adapted to the modern age. Facebook and the modern media are the methods presently in use. There is going to be less need for postage stamps. There are over 280 email addresses on the list. Communication will be instant.
The Ukrainian community in New Zealand and Australia are very grateful to the Redemptorist Fathers of Oceania Province for their continued support over the years. We also thank them for their understanding of the nature of the work involved.
Over the past 65 years many priests and sisters from our Eparchy have visited the Ukrainian communities in New Zealand. They each made a valuable contribution to the people who immigrated there. We ask our Lord to remember them and to reward them for their work. They all rejoice now that the New Zealand Parish is established.
Our dream and prayer for New Zealand is that there should be three parishes in the country – Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. We also pray that Ukrainians will soon have their own church in each of these cities with three parish priests in residence.
Our hope is in the Lord and we know that He loves us and takes care of us!
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