January 6, 2016

30 Years Anniversary Celebration - Reunion ICPE Mission New Zealand (28 - 29 November 2015)

The ICPE Mission worldwide kick-started its 30th year with much festivity. However, the Mission Centre in New Zealand master minded a special closure to the year-long string of celebrations by organising a weekend reunion of missionaries, alumni and Companions who met over the last weekend of November at St. Gerard's monastery, home to the ICPE missionaries in Wellington

The sun shone over the monastery and the trees around seemed to stand still as if to welcome our guests who had travelled from different parts of New Zealand to attend the special event. Besides the 6 Companions of the Mission, there were approximately 30 people who responded to our invitation. They had attended our schools and past outreaches dating back to 1988 when the first School of Evangelisation was held in St. Gerard's. The day began with a beautiful time of worship true to the ICPE charism! Following the time of worship were ice breakers that got everyone moving and soon broke into heart warming times of chatter and fellowship that continued right through the weekend.

A moment to remember was the challenging talk delivered by Larry Baldoch who flew in from Tauranga to be with us on Saturday. He had been invited to speak at the first school in New Zealand 30 years ago! The 'snapshot' session took us down memory lane as we recalled the early days of the mission and all the young familiar faces who have now most certainly 'matured' over time! The highlight of the weekend was the launch of the ICPE Alumni - a new platform for all those who have been part of any initiative of the ICPE MIssion over the last 30 years and who wish to remain in close contact with the mission not only in receiving but also contributing in ways that seek to foster the bonds of friendship and unity. A special time allocated for sharing and communication proved to be fruitful as suggestions and ideas came pouring in through various groups discussions, thus enabling us to move forward with Alumni who would not only remain in contact with the mission but would also have possibility of serving the mission,participating in outreaches and several other means to bring the Good News to the world.

The feedback received last weekend of November clearly expressed what was in every body's hearts...that we are God's beloved whom He has chosen and set apart to do His will and as each of the alumni solemnly lit their little candles and then everyone prayed over the map of New Zealand, many words were spoken from the Lord about taking their little light back to their homes, work spot, parishes and cities. The day ended with the Holy Eucharist celebrated by three priests- Fr. Alliston, Fr. Francis and Fr. Carl.

We couldn't have asked for more on the following day- Sunday, the final day of the reunion! The Eucharist invited us to deepen our relationship with the Lord and with one another. People who attended the Mass from around Wellington mingled with all our weekend visitors and the sun smiled all through the day! No one leaves St. Gerard's without a taste of ICPE hospitality but last Sunday was even more special as snacks and goodies were served on the lawn outside the historic building -the sun,sea and the blue sky as a glorious backdrop!

Truly, a glorious way to end the reunion and for our visitors to take home with them memories of their time with ICPE and a new desire to fan the flame. For us who are full-timers in the mission, it was indeed a memorable day as well, as we renewed old friendships, made new ones and were encouraged to persevere in running the race to the very end!! Thanks be to God for His faithful love towards us!