New Zealand visitor to Brisbane

New Zealand visitor to Brisbane

Leo Leitch

I have just come back from a brief visit to Brisbane which included a weekend there.

At the Mass I attended at a local parish, I was first struck by the open-plan style of the building. Then I saw that, rather than pews, there were rows of chairs in a semi-circle around the central altar. There were no kneelers and no-one knelt during the Mass. The tabernacle was marginalised to an area segregated off from one side of what looked more like a concert hall.

The parish priest celebrated Mass in a very "matey" fashion, while the scriptural readings contained feminist modifications. Further on, the priest adjusted the words of the consecration so that "Do this in memory of me" became "And then He said: Whenever you do this, remember me".

At the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer, the congregation enthusiastically accepted the priest's encouragement to proclaim the Doxology along with him. That particular act of defiance fell in a hole in New Zealand more than a decade ago.

During his homily, the priest introduced us to Come, Holy Spirit, a program of prayer being promoted by Archbishop Bathersby for the renewal of the Church in South-East Queensland, especially in regard to Mass attendance and priestly vocations. This seemed quite promising.

After Mass, I encountered the priest in the "gathering space" at the back of the church. I suggested that the Archdiocese should look to places, such as in the US, Europe and Australia, where priestly vocations were flourishing. He asked me for an example of where in Australia this was the case. I nominated Wagga Wagga. He almost exploded. "Their theology is pre-Vatican II", he cried.

Archbishop Bathersby's program of prayer will be seriously frustrated if this priest and this parish are typical of South-East Queensland.

Mind you, I was not encouraged by my experience at the Catholic bookshop which is situated in the grounds of the Brisbane cathedral.

It is now some years since New Zealand Catholics realised the folly of the Enneagram. You are very unlikely to find references to it in New Zealand Catholic circles now. However, Enneagram books were prominently displayed in Brisbane's Catholic bookshop. Also, Enneagram "Retreats" presented by Living Springs Self Care Ministry, co-ordinated by Sr Lucy Tierney RSJ, were promoted in September's Around the Archdiocese published by Catholic Communications Brisbane.

LEO LEITCH
Napier, New Zealand

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