Significant People

Significant People

Bishop Edward Gaines 

Edward Russell Gaines was born in Whanganui on 3rd November 1926.
He was ordained a Catholic priest on 13th July 1950 by Archbishop James Liston at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Auckland.
Edward Gaines was very much a kiwi man and was a keen rugby player.  Although his Bishop didn’t like him playing rugby due to risk of injury, Edward found ways to play club rugby.
On 8th December 1976 he was ordained a Bishop by Bishop John Mackey and served as Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland until 1980.  On 19th June 1980 Gaines was appointed as first Bishop of the new Diocese of Hamilton.
Bishop Edward Gaines was known to be a stern man but a firm believer in being an active Christian.  In 1982, Bishop Gaines established the Catholic Care Foundation, to do what the Bible tells us to do- to love God and to love our neighbour. This foundation is still active today and supports the Caring Mission by making grants to groups providing essential services such as food, clothing, a place to sleep as well as comfort for anyone who needs it. The aim of this foundation is to care for the poor, the homeless, the hungry, for refugees, and for children and families in the area who need special love and care.
The deeds for the land on which our school now stands were signed by Bishop Gaines while he was in hospital.  He died on 6th September 1994 before the school opened in 1995.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop


Mary MacKillop was born in Victoria to Scottish immigrants on the 15th January 1842. She was the eldest of eight children and spent her early years working to support her family. At the age of 24 she dedicated her life to God and took on the name “Mary of the Cross”.
Along with Fr Julian Tenison-Woods, Mary opened a school in a disused stable in Penola, South Australia. Her vision was to provide education for underprivileged children. Many other women came to join her there, and Mary and Julian founded Australia’s first religious order: the Sisters of St Joseph (“the Brown Joes”).
Mary and the Sisters were committed to serving the poor – to going to where the need was and living amongst those in need. This took Mary all over Australia to many rural areas.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph first came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1880 to Whanganui.   In 1883 Mary MacKillop sent three sisters from Adelaide to Temuka to establish a school.  By 1894, the year of Mary MacKillop’s first visit to New Zealand, there were four communities in the North Island, (Remuera and Grey Lynn in Auckland; Meeanee near Napier; Matata in the Bay of Plenty) and four in the South Island (Temuka, Kerrytown and Waimate in South Canterbury and Rangiora in North Canterbury). By this time New Zealand women had joined the sisterhood. Mary MacKillop visited New Zealand four times between 1894 and 1902, travelling throughout the country to visit the sisters and encourage them in their work.
Mary faced fierce opposition throughout her life, which at one point culminated in her being excommunicated. In the face of trial, Mary was a model of forgiveness, insisting no ill be spoken of those who wronged her, while also remaining resolute in her convictions.
MacKillop died on 8 August 1909 at the Josephite convent in North Sydney.  She was buried at Gore Hill Cemetery and was exhumed in 1914 and laid to rest in a newly built memorial chapel in North Sydney.
MacKillop took a significant step towards sainthood in 1995, when she was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 17.  She was made a Saint and named St Mary of the Cross MacKillop on 17th October 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Mary was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. We need role models who inspire us to be compassionate, loving people. Mary’s life of heroic goodness demonstrates for all of us a way to live with a generous and forgiving heart.

Roncalli:  St John XXIII (1910-1943)

St John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on 10th August 1904.  He became Pope on 28th October 1958 after the death of Venerable Pius XII.  John XXIII was older when he was elected Pope and was only Pope for 5 years.  In those 5 years, John XXII called for great changes in the Church.  He is known as ‘the Good Pope’.
Whereas his predecessor was skinny and dignified, John was short, squat, less formal, and far more easygoing. He was largely humble, prayerful, and quick to make a joke to lighten the mood.
On January 25, 1959, he gave the announcement that he wanted to convene a church council, a decision that took the world, by surprise. This ultimately led to the start of the Second Vatican Council, better known as Vatican II, in October 1962. The Council, which would run several sessions and last until 1965, conducted important meetings that resulted in the Catholic Church updating many of its teachings, and taking a more conciliatory stance towards the modern world.
Pope John XXIII helped set the tone with his embracement of the idea of aggiornamento, Italian for ”updating” or ”modernizing,” so that the Church would be more positive and forward-looking than in previous decades.
While Vatican II was Pope John XXIII’s most important act as Pope, he also wrote an important encyclical, or teaching document, Pacem in terris (”Peace on Earth”) in 1963, which argued for nuclear non-proliferation, and urged nations to work towards world peace.
Pope John XXIII was exceptionally popular among both Catholics and non-Catholics, and, as a result, was named Time magazine’s ”Man of the Year” in 1962.
Pope John XXIII was canonised a Saint on 27th April 2014 by Pope Francis.
I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.
– St John XXIII

Pacelli:  Venerable Pius XII (1876-1958)

Venerable Pius XII was born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli on 2nd March 1876 in Rome.  He became Pope on 2nd March 1939 after the death of Pope Pius XI.  Pius XII was Pope during World War II.
His actions during World War II were heroic. Although the Vatican traditionally chose to take a neutral stance during times of conflict, he stood in defiance of the Nazis through his encyclicals (writings) and radio broadcasts.
He stopped the deportation of Jews from Rome. He set up a network through the Church in Eastern Europe which issued tens of thousands of baptismal certificates to Jews so they could avoid deportation to concentration camps. He then turned the Vatican and the Pope’s summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, into makeshift refugee centers for Jews he helped escape from Hitler’s grasp.
The Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide, one of the foremost authorities on the holocaust, estimates that Pius XII saved between 700,000 and 860,000 Jewish lives during the war.
Pius XII wanted to be known as a ‘Pope of Peace’.
Pius XII was declared Venerable on 19th December 2009
“To live without risk is to risk not living.”  – Pius XII

Francis Douglas 

Francis Vernon Douglas was born in Johnsonville near Wellington on 22nd May 1910.  He was the fifth child of eight to Kathleen Gaffney and her husband, George Charles Douglas, an Australian-born railway worker. His mother was a devout Catholic from County Sligo, Ireland, and his father became a Catholic in 1926.
Vernon, as he was often called by his family and friends, completed most of his schooling in Johnsonville and in February 1927 entered Holy Cross Seminary in Mosgiel.
Douglas was ordained priest at St Joseph’s Church, Wellington, on 29 October 1934 by Archbishop Thomas O’Shea. His eldest brother had already entered religious life by joining the Marist Brothers, and an elder sister was a nun at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Rose Bay, Sydney.
After his ordination, Douglas served in parishes in Johnsonville, Opunake and New Plymouth but he felt his mission was elsewhere.  In 1937, he joined the St Columban’s Foreign Mission Society, and was posted to Pililla, a small fishing town near Manila in the Philippines.
War broke in Europe in 1939 and in January 1942 Japan was occupying Manila.  The Japanese were at first somewhat tolerant of Christian missionaries, but became increasingly suspicious of them after the Japanese were attacked by allied forces in the Solomon Islands in August 1942.
Douglas reluctantly obeyed restrictive rules placed by the Japanese until July 1943 when he felt he needed to visit some American guerillas who said they required a priest to hear their confession.  On his arrival, Douglas found that they just wanted someone new to talk to.  The Japanese became very suspicious of this trip and on 24th July 1943 Douglas was arrested by the Japanese and taken for questioning.  For three days, Douglas was interrogated, tortured and beaten, and still he refused to share confessions made in confidence by the guerillas.  On 27th July 1943, Douglas was taken away and never seen again.
Francis Douglas has entered into the traditions of New Zealand Catholicism and is considered a martyr. He is honoured for his courage, steadfast beliefs and devotion to his religious duties.
“Think I’ve made a sound start but still so much to be done”  – Fr Francis Douglas

Pio Taofinu’u 

Pio Taofinu’u was born in Falealupo, a village on the island of Savai’i in Samoa on 8th December 1923.  He was ordained a priest for the Society of Mary (Marists) on his 31st birthday (8th December 1954) by Bishop Giovanni Battista Dieter. He made his profession in the Society of Mary on 8th September 1962.
Fr Taofinu’u attended the 2nd Vatican Council with the then Bishop of Apia, Bishop George Hamilton Pearce.
On 11th January 1968, Taofinu’u was named Bishop of Apia, becoming the first Polynesian bishop in history. He was consecrated as Bishop of Apia, Samoa by his former bishop George Pearce, who was the new Archbishop of Suva, Fiji. One of his first duties as the new spiritual leader of Samoa’s Catholic community was as one of the organisers of Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Samoan Islands on 30th November 1970,  – the first and, to date, the only visit by a Pope to the islands.
Taofinu’u was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI on 5th March 1973.
During his time as Bishop of Apia, Taofinu’u put a special focus on education throughout his diocese. More Catholic schools were built and a Theological College for Catechists and Deacons was established in an effort to evangelize the Faith to all the islands. Through this work, more young men were called to priesthood in Samoa.
As bishop, Taofinu’u was active in leading changes within the Catholic Church in Samoa.  Taofinu’u wanted to see Samoan culture enriching the church and the church enriching culture.  The liturgies in the archdiocese were vibrant, and became more meaningful to the people by making use of the signs and cultural symbols of the people of Samoa. A new hymn book mixing old and new hymns for the liturgy was also prepared and published for use through the diocese.
Taofinu’u died 19th January 2006.
Pio Taofinu’u is well respected and held in high regard in Samoa and neighbouring Pacific Islands. He is honoured for his desire to have a Church truly for the people, building community, and making ways for cultural tradition and Church tradition to become intertwined, enriching one another.
“At these times there is a different feeling to current Catholic worship when custom and Christianity were merged.  What has resulted is very attractive.”  – Cardinal Pio Taofinu’u

Max Takuira Mariu

Max Takuira Mariu (Ngati Tuwharetoa) was born on 12th August 1952 in Taumarunui.  He went to school at St Joseph’s Waihi Village, Lake Taupo, and Hato Paora Catholic Maori Boys College in Feilding.  He attended St Mary’s Seminary in Greenmeadows Napier.  On 30th April 1977, Mariu was ordained by Bishop Edward Gaines at Waihi Marae, Lake Taupo.  Following his ordination, Mariu served parishes in Napier and Whangarei and in Maori pastoral care in Pakipaki.  In 1980-1982, Mariu gave back to his secondary school, becoming a teacher at Hato Paora.
For 7 years from 1981, Te Hahi Katorika ki Aotearoa, the national Catholic body for Maori, asked the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference for a Maori Bishop.  Their idea was to have a Maori bishop with particular responsibility for all Catholic Maori.  On 30th January, Mariu was appointed by Pope John Paul II, Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Hamilton.  Mariu was consecrated Bishop at Te Papa o te Aroha Marae in Tokoroa on 19th May 1988.  1500 people were present at the marae for the occasion.  Mariu was the first Maori to be ordained a Catholic bishop.
Later in 1988, the new Bishop Max Mariu and Bishop Edward Gaines travelled together for an audience with Pope John Paul II.  The Pope called Mariu ‘Bambino Bishop’ because of his relative youth.  On the death of Bishop Gaines, Mariu administered the diocese until Bishop Denis Browne became Bishop of Hamilton.
Even though Mariu was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton, he was known across Aotearoa as ‘the Maori Bishop’ and respected and loved dearly in Catholic Maori communities.  He made frequent visits around the country.  Bishop Mariu said what he loved about his job was seeing the faces of parishioners and other people touched by the Church.  He said, “People is what Church is all about. “He believed a big issue for Catholicism today was understanding other cultures. He said the Church needed to better understand Maori culture.  Māriu spoke out on issues around Māori grievances in relation to the Treaty, and just prior to his death said how he worried particularly about young Māori, “…we’re losing them,” he said.
Bishop Mariu died 12th December 2005, while awaiting surgery.
Max Takuira Mariu was known for his humility, his sense of humour, and his wonderful way with families. He spoke of how battling a congenital heart condition had strengthened his appreciation of life.  Max Takuira Mariu is honoured for being a strong advocate for self-determination and respect, his lifelong commitment to Maori and teaching all people how to live life in glory of God.
“People is what church is all about.”  – Bishop Max Mariu

Suzanne Aubert

Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert was born on 19th June 1835 at St Symphorien-de-Lay, a small village not far from Lyon, France.  She came from a respectable, middle-class family and had three brothers.
When she was two, she fell through thin ice on a pond onto rocks and become blind and crippled.   Aubert got back the use of her limbs and most of her sight, other than a cast on one eye.
As was the custom, Aubert’s parents had arranged that she would marry the son of a family friend.  Aubert refused.  This upset her mother who went to seek advice from the parish priest, Jean Vianney (now known as St Jean Vianney).  He said Aubert had made the right decision; God had other designs for her, he said.
In 1859, Bishop Pompallier visited his hometown Lyon seeking people to join him in New Zealand.  Aubert happily accepted the invitation and in September 1860 Suzanne Aubert, along with 23 other missionaries set sail for New Zealand.
Aubert joined the Sisters of Mercy in forming the congregation of the Holy Family to educate Maori children.  Aubert became known as Sister Mary Joseph, or affectionately known as ‘Meri’ to the Maori people she worked with.
Aubert learnt Maori language, customs and medicines and went to any community in which her help was needed.  This led her to the Hawke’s Bay Marist Maori Mission in 1877, and then 60km up the Whanganui River in 1883, to a settlement called Jerusalem (Hiruharama).
 She cared for children and the sick by skilfully combining traditional Maori medicine and modern Science.  Aubert started a home for orphans and the underprivileged in Jerusalem, Whanganui River in 1885. She wrote books in Maori, English and French adding significantly in our cultural understanding and literary heritage.  Aubert founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion in 1892 and later started two hospitals in Wellington – the St Joseph’s Home for the Incurables in 1900, and Our Lady’s Home of Compassion in 1907.
On October 1, 1926, aged 91, Suzanne Aubert died. The country’s newspapers spread the word and crowds gathered to pay their last respects. Her funeral was widely reported to be the largest funeral ever accorded a woman in New Zealand.
In 2016, Mother Aubert was declared ‘venerable’ by Pope Francis, the first step to becoming a Saint.
Mother Aubert dedicated her life to serving others.  She is honoured for her dedicated and compassionate service to others.
“The merit of our actions does not depend on their importance or number, but on the degree of the love of God with which we perform them.”  – Mother Aubert