A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Good Friday At Okarito

Fr Michael Mahoney sm

Fr Michael Mahoney sm

On Good Friday a group of people made a pilgrimage walk from the Okarito Domain next to the beach, to the trig.

It is a distance of about 1.8km each way and a height gain of 250 metres.

Okarito is a small settlement on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

It is famous for its scenic beauty.

Some years ago, someone divided the walk into twelve sections.

They marked each section with a large numbered stone inconspicuously set among palm fronds beside the path.

The idea was for the pilgrims to stop at each stone and have different people read a section of the Passion narrative from St. John’s gospel.

“Quite a challenge, but not so much that most people of all ages could not take part,” said Father Michael Mahoney, the parish priest of South Westland.

The walk was widely advertised in South Westland community newspapers and on bulletin boards in each town.About 25 people, from various age groups, nationalities and towns took part, including a father behind a pushchair containing his infant daughter.

It took a couple of hours to reach the top and return. Afterwards there were hot cross buns and soup at the 150 year old Donovan’s Hall.

“In spite of being Good Friday it was a most joyous occasion,” said Fr Michael.

“All enjoyed the time between each “station.”

“They spent the time getting to know their fellow walkers.”

“One of the challenges in modern Catholic life is to find activities that connect youth with the Church,” he said.

“On the West Coast of the South Island this is even more of a challenge.”

“Most Coast youth go away to study or look for employment either during or after secondary school.”

“And there are not many to start with!”

Michael says another challenge is presented by modern farming methods; there are less people working on farms.

“So less who take part in Church activities.”

“With this in mind, in the South Westland parish we tried to think of an activity during Holy Week that might appeal to people, including youth, who would not normally be involved with Church activities and who probably don’t belong to any Church and may not have any idea of why Christians celebrate Holy Week and Easter.”

“All voted it a good way of marking Good Friday morning, and without doubt we will repeat it,” he said.

Okarito pilgrimage walk - Good Friday

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