Catholics pray for dead teenager during large mass

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2013
mass
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

THE FAITHFUL: More than 1000 Catholics from around North Taranaki attended mass at the TSB stadium yesterday.

tdn niko stand
Nikolao Meafua

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Taranaki Catholics who gathered for a regional mass yesterday prayed for a New Plymouth teenager whose body was found last week.

More than 1000 people attended the mass at the TSB stadium in New Plymouth yesterday.

Believers from the north Taranaki dioceses had gathered together to celebrate what the Pope has deemed "the year of faith".

Father Craig Butler said it was usual during mass to pray for the sick or those who had died.

He said the congregation had prayed for New Plymouth Boys' High School student Nikolao Meafua, 16, whose body was found on the rocks at Kawaroa last week.

"Often if there has been something significant happen we will name the people involved, as we mentioned Niko."

He said Niko's family had been unable to attend as they were meeting extended family who were arriving for Niko's funeral.

Mr Butler said the mass was also an occasion for Catholics to meet one another, deepen their faith and give thanks.

"The eucharist is about thanksgiving. It's easy to give thanks for the good stuff, but we thank God for everything."

Visiting Palmerston North bishop Charles Drennan said yesterday's mass was the first of several regional masses to be held this year.

"It's also a time to recognise the contribution of the Christian community in the wider community," he said.

He said church organisations such as Vincent de Paul were active in Taranaki.

He also noted Taranaki had an unusually high number of people who chose to take the vocational route within the church.

"There are a large number of brothers and sisters in Taranaki."

But yesterday was also a special occasion for 22 young people who were confirmed during the ceremony.

Confirmation organiser and team leader Ellen Hall said the group of teenagers had been preparing to reaffirm their commitment to the religion since May 6.

The group had been meeting regularly to learn and talk about the ceremony and what it would mean.

They had also been on a three-day retreat at Topec.

"It was about team building and they did lots of activities."

Sacred Heart Girls' College student Anne-Sophie Issah, 15, was one of the young people confirming their faith yesterday.

"It was really good. It's good to get together with other people my age who are doing the sacrament because it's not really cool to express your faith."

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