Last night I had the honour of attending the Priests' Conference Mass in Rotorua. Rotorua is playing host to over 180 priests this week (along with all of our Bishops, Arch Bishop Dew and the new Apostolic Nuncio). Last night was the opening Mass of the conference and it was celebrated by the Arch-Bishop.
Wow! It was definitely one of those "proud to be Catholic" moments. The Mass was celebrated at St Mary's church and the 'people' sat in the middle two blocks while the 180 priests flanked us on either side. It was a spectacular sight to see them all in their albs and stoles and it was fun picking out all of the faces you recognise – childhood priests, priests from around your own diocese, the Bishops etc.
When it came to the Eucharistic prayer it was incredibly powerful to be surrounded by almost 200 priests all raising their hands towards the host and saying "This is my body…" together in unison.
But the real treat was the singing. Imagine 180 male voices all raised in song. Pretty inspiring.
It was also really special being there with some of my students and seeing their faces as they took it all in. It was really good for them to realise that their Catholicity isn't just about our little Catholic school – they are part of something much bigger.
If any of you are around Rotorua in the next couple of days and have an hour to spare at 5.15pm, come along to St Mary's Church. Mass will be celebrated tonight by the Nuncio and tomorrow by Bishop Browne.
Also… just a heads up… word on the street here is that our new Bishop might be named sometime during proceedings this week, so keep your ears to the ground folks! If I hear anything I'll let you know.