Hundreds flock to mass to celebrate first anniversary of amalgamation
A special mass to mark the first anniversary of the amalgamation of three Catholic parishes in New Plymouth was held on Sunday.
In September 2015, the parishes of St Joseph's, St Philomena's and Our Lady Help of Christians became one, known as the Catholic Parish of New Plymouth.
The joining up of the three parishes was seen as a way to strengthen the Catholic faith in the city and Father Simon Story said Sunday's mass was a way to recognise that.
"It's a celebration of our unity," Story said.
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Held at the TSB Stadium, the mass attracted hundreds of parishioners from New Plymouth, Bell Block and Okato.
It also represented the largest mass Story had been involved in during his time in Taranaki.
Posted in New Plymouth for the past ten months, Story was previously a priest in Hastings for eight years.
Story said the numbers sitting in the church pews around Taranaki were bolstered by a growing multicultural dimension within the congregation.
He said a decade ago, parishes had a presence of mainly European people, but about one third of churchgoers now were either Filipino or Indian, a change which represented a "big shift" across the region.
"That's a blessing and a gift to the faith community," Story said.
But despite this, the numbers of people affiliated to the Catholic faith across New Zealand was fairly stagnant.
"The average Kiwi is not coming to, or participating in the life of the faith community like they used to," he said.