First of all, it should be said that the last Divine Liturgy in New Zealand, which was served by Fr. Ihor Kolisnyk, CSsR, was at the end of 2016. Father served in Nicholas Charnetsky Parish for 2 years.

The Nicholas Charnetsky Parish is located in New Zealand and covers the three largest cities: Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Before Fr. Ihor Kolisnyk, from 2012 to 2014, Fr. Andrii Mykytyuk, cyncellus of the Laity of the Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul of Melbourne, and protosyncellus of the eparchy Fr. Simon Ckuj, were serving the church in New Zeland.

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So, after a long break, Fr. Andrii Mykytyuk again came to the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the northern part of New Zealand to pray together and give the parishioners the Living God. The father served in the cities of Wellington and also in Auckland at the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where the Redemptorist fathers serve. In Wellington, the Liturgy was usually held in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Christ, but due to the earthquake in 2018, the shrine is closed. Therefore, services were held in the church of St. Joseph in the center of the city, which was well prepared for prayer by the parish community.

It is difficult to describe the joy with which Ukrainians met their father. In Auckland, the prayer community consisted of 36 people, and in Wellington – 21. The faithful united with the pastor in prayer and accompanied him with wonderful singing. People approached the Holy Mysteries of Confession and the Eucharist in large numbers as they remembered not only prayer but also forgiveness,  which is important in order to live with God.

A special and touching event in the Auckland parish occurred where through the Sacrament of Baptism a new member of the church by the name Matthew was born. The whole community sincerely welcomed the newly baptized with great thanks to God.

After the Liturgy, as it usually happens, the parishioners gathered together for refreshments, where they shared not only food but also kind words. According to the father, it was a great opportunity to get to know everyone, communicate, and establish contacts in order to continue pastoring in New Zealand, and do it more often, at least several times a year.

Addressing the faithful with the word of God, which tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in his sermon the father emphasized that God should be at the center of our lives, not us. Then the Lord helps us to open our eyes and see the needs of our neighbors: “Especially at this time, we should rally, be together, help and support each other. Thus, we will be able to follow the directions that God gives us. In the Old Testament, the Israelites had Moses and prophets, now we have much more – God himself, who came to us and not only told us how we should live but more importantly set an example for us with his own life. Therefore, we must be able to notice Him. We should learn to take our ego out of the center of our lives and put God in the first place, build our lives around Him, listen to Him and follow Him.”

Commenting on his ministry in New Zealand, Fr. Andriy noted that the people were just the right soil for sowing the word of God, which would sprout in them several times and bear good fruit: “They are open to the Light that is Christ, so they are always happy to wait for the pastor. The faithful met me with great joy and sadly sent off, asking to come more often.”

The father also had a pleasant time with the Redemptorist fathers: “The Redemptorists are always happy to meet us in the monastery, give us overnight accommodation, and also are offering us the parish church of the Mother of God of Perpetual Help, where we serve the Liturgy. We are very grateful to them for their generosity and a pleasant time spent.”

By the way, on December 9-13, Fr. Igor Holovko will come to serve in the southern part of New Zealand, namely in the city of Christchurch.