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Historic gathering for Catholic Church in New Zealand

For the first time since the arrival in New Zealand of the first Catholic orders of religious women and men some 170 years ago, a general assembly of those orders will take place at St Catherine's College in Kilbirnie, Wellington over the next four days.

There are 43 Catholic religious congregations in New Zealand, 26 of women and 17 of men. They first came here in the peak of European colonialism in the footsteps of the settlers, in order to minister to them and to the indigenous Maori people.

For approximately 170 years these religious congregations built and staffed schools, churches, hospitals and orphanages.

There have been many changes in the Church's religious congregations since the second Vatican Council in the 60s. Women wore clothing that had not been greatly adapted since their orders were founded, often some centuries earlier (which at that time was part of the ordinary dress of the period). Now, apart from those in enclosed congregations, most of them wear simple, contemporary clothes with the distinctive cross or symbol of their particular order.

This gathering will include a large number of New Zealanders, but some will travel from the Pacific Islands and from Australia. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Father Timothy Radcliffe from London, former head of the world-wide order of Dominican Friars.

Historic gathering for Catholic Church in New Zealand

20 Jan 2005