Man in wetsuit steals the show at Easter service

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 21/04/2014
Taranaki Cathedral dean
BOB RICHARDS
EARLY START: Taranaki Cathedral dean Jamie Allen donned a wetsuit for a dawn service at Ngamotu Beach for Easter Sunday, during which six people were baptised.

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Dawn baptisms, an Easter egg hunt and messages of hope formed part of Taranaki-wide celebrations to mark the most important date on the Christian religious calendar.

For Taranaki Cathedral dean Jamie Allen Easter Sunday began in unique fashion, with a dawn service at Ngamotu Beach, complete with a driftwood cross. "It was an Easter morning first for us."

Six people were also baptised in the sea, accompanied by Allen dressed in a wetsuit.

"It was the most unusual gear I have ever worn to a church service," he said.

About 400 people attended the Sunday morning service held at the cathedral.

Allen said Easter often brought people together, including families, and going to church was an important part of that.

"They'll come and celebrate together."

Father Craig Butler, of St Joseph's New Plymouth, said Easter celebrations at all of Taranaki's Catholic parishes had been fully attended.

"It's gone very, very well," he said.

Celebrations for St Joseph's parishioners began on Thursday, with many of the faithful, as well as some new faces, attending different services.

Butler said he had also performed several baptisms as well as a wedding.

The numbers attending Easter services was "more than heartening" and highlighted the importance of this time of year in people's lives, he said.

Butler said the St Philomena's Brooklands congregation had been welcomed by both St Joseph's New Plymouth and members of Our Lady Help of Christians in Fitzroy over Easter.

In January, St Philomena's church was extensively damaged after a fire was intentionally lit at the site.

Butler said the parish members were still dealing with the fire's aftermath.

"For the people there is still a great sadness," he said.

Butler, who also presided over Easter Sunday mass at St Joseph's Waitara, said the story and message of Easter could be translated to non-believers as well.

"I think more than anything people need to have hope," he said.

New Plymouth's City West Church pastors, Pip and Steve Batten said about 150 people attended their Good Friday mass, which included a visit from a Hamilton pastor.

"We had a great night," she said.

About 230 people turned up for their morning mass yesterday.

"It's the most significant Sunday of the year," she said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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