A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Tribute to Pā Maria

By Bridget Taumoepeau

By Bridget Taumoepeau

Pā Maria, the Marist Spirituality Centre, sits, some might say rather incongruously, in Hobson Street Thorndon, which, along with neighbouring streets, could be called the Embassy Quarter. Flags of various nations flutter outside grand homes marking them as their embassies.

Less conspicuously, down a drive, is Pā Maria – the safe stronghold of Mary – a haven of peace and contemplation in the city, despite overlooking the motorway, railway and ferry, although there are also views of the sea and the hills beyond.

While some of the neighbouring embassies look like fortresses and others display their often restrictive opening hours, Pā Maria greets you with flowers at the ever-open door. On occasions there may even be a priest awaiting you to welcome you in.

As we all know, embassies are representatives of foreign lands. They control with visas those who can come and go from their countries. They work for trade deals for their advantage and promote their own culture, as well as looking after their own citizens.

‘A place for quiet reflection ...’

‘A place for quiet reflection ...’

How different from Pā Maria. No screening required here, no police checks, no applications to make, no borders or categories. All are welcome. All are considered children of God, made in his image. All can belong, and all, regardless of where they come from, are looked after.

pa-maria-madonna-childSo what goes on within these walls? A wide variety of activities – retreats of all types; courses on spirituality; individual meetings; a venue for groups; interdenominational gatherings; spaces for prayer and contemplation for those of all faiths or none; the celebration of Mass; and even film evenings!

Pā Maria Chapel

Pā Maria Chapel

Pā Maria could indeed be seen as an embassy, but of a different ilk -- an embassy of God. And those that minister within it help us all to be ambassadors for Christ.

Deo gratias.

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary,

12 September 2016

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