Church celebrates 50 years
Bishop leads service for Tokoroa Catholics
Fifty years on and Tokoroa’s St Pius X Catholic Church still stands tall on the corner of State Highway 1 and Mossop Rd.
The stained glass windows with images of Christian figures still cast a rainbow of colours across the parishioners as they kneel in prayer.
Many Tokoroa families, Catholics and non- Catholics, worked tirelessly, free of charge to ensure Catholics in the town had a place of worship.
After three years of hard work the church was opened on March 2, 1962.
Last Saturday many of those who helped build the church or attended throughout the years celebrated the 50 year mark.
Close to 350 people filled the church on Saturday evening to take part in a Mass celebrating the milestone.
Ten priests and deacons led by the Bishop of Hamilton Denis Brown said Mass and gave special thanks to those who persevered in building the church.
Special mention was made of Father John O’connor, who was the parish priest when the church was built.
‘‘ Father O’connor had the ability to inspire and encourage all the community to help with the building of the church. Hearing about his work is beautiful and amazing.’’ Bishop Brown told the congregation.
‘‘Built by voluntary labour, the parish grew up from nothing,’’ Bishop Brown continued.
Taking up the holy sacrament to the awaiting fathers during the service was the first couple married at the church, Barry and Jocelyn Butler.
The Catholic Samoan Society presented leis to the clergy, Mr and Mrs Butler and other members of the parish.
The church-goers were regaled with stories of the church’s successes, from the opening of the Papa O Te Aroha Marae in 1987, the Episcopal Ordination of the first Maori bishop Max Takuira Mariu SM to the opening of Bishop Edward Gaines Catholic School in 1995.
Former parish priest Fr Peter Fitzgibbon, who served in Tokoroa from 1991 to 1997, also attended the festivities.
Fr Peter was instrumental in setting up Bishop Edward Gaines Catholic School which opened in 1995.
‘‘I feel refreshed and renewed catching up with everyone here,’’ Fr Peter said,
‘‘I went for a stroll through the school and I look for signs that the vision is coming to life. We started with three classrooms and it has grown.’’
Children from the school performed a number of items for the guests.
The festivities carried on through the night with dinner and speeches from various people including Mayor Neil Sinclair.
The birthday celebrations were organised by Graewyn O’sullivan and her committee.
The church would like to thank the parish council, members of the Brown’ parish, Waiariki Chefs, Living with– Bishop Denis out Violence Trust and parish priests Fr Vince Jones and Fr Reno Alima. St Pius X Milestones
January 1954: First parish priest Fr P B Flynn
December 1954: Father J J O’conner arrives and serves until 1965 1956: Catholic Hall completed March 1962: Archbishop Liston blesses and opens St Pius X Catholic Church.
September 1972: Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart take up residence in the convent.
January 1974: Two classrooms built for religious education.
January 1987: Opening of Papa O Te Aroha Marae.
March 1988: Episcopal ordination of Bishop Max Takuira Mariu SM. First Maori bishop.
February 1995: Bishop Edward Gaines Catholic School opens its doors for the first time.
November 1997: Ordination to the priesthood of former Tokoroa man Michael Gielen.
March 2012: Golden Jubilee.
PRAISE BE: Bishop of Hamilton Denis Brown leads a church service to celebrate 50 years of St Pius X Catholic Church in Tokoroa.
I DO: The first couple to be married in St Pius X Catholic Church, Jocelyn and Barry Butler, return 50 years later to join in the festivities.