21 December 2013


When Sue, Johnny, and I had that dramatic meeting with Mike (our minister) and Roel, I said definitely that I believed I had to become a Catholic - Sue and Johnny said they were not yet sure.

Perhaps I did not take this statement on Sue's part as seriously as I ought to have done (none who know me well will be surprised :-)).

Because Christmas falls in high summer in New Zealand, the country shuts down at this time even more than northern hemisphere countries do.  From Christmas until usually the week after New Year's, many of us are on holiday.  One Saturday evening - perhaps 7 January, 1995 - I suggested to Sue that we go to evening Mass at St Andrew's in Tuakau.  We were, after all, Catholics now; let's get to know some of the neighbouring parishes.

The assumption that 'we' were Catholics now was, if not premature, at least thoughtless.  Sue was, I perceived, not very happy that evening.  I didn't really know why that should be.  It was a pleasant, warm, summer evening - sunny until 8:30 or 9.  The parish is a pleasant 15-minute, 12 Km, drive from Pukekohe.  It is a fairly old (1950s??  pre-WW2??) wooden building, very nice, very Catholic.

I don't know when it was that Susan explained why she was so uncomfortable attending Mass there that evening.  When she told me, she said that what she had echoing in her mind was our minister's clear words to her from that meeting: "It is my duty to tell you that you are not to attend Mass anywhere, for any reason."

I think, believing what he believed, that this was exactly the right thing for him to say.  It is to Susan's credit that she took this seriously enough to be concerned.

Nevertheless, she went.  I think that at this time she was still uncertain about her own will.

Our three younger children, I am sure, were willing at that time to trust my judgement.  Eddie, it is true, had considerable interest in the Protestant-Catholic arguments, and he and I discussed the issues at considerable length.  The three of them had begun to make some friends at St Patrick's - and tolerating pretty well three church services a day (8AM Mass; 10:30AM Reformed Church morning worship; 5PM Reformed Church evening worship).

Johnny was definitely still on the 'undecided' list - and was, in fact, to depart for the United States in June of that year.

Susan's own settlement of mind was to involve a trip to the US of her own.

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