Church cel­e­brates 50 years

Bishop leads ser­vice for Toko­roa Catholics

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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