Jan 11, 2022
Tena tatou katoa - My hope is that Columban friends will share the joy.
In the New Year's Honours List, our friend and colleague, Chris Farrelly, was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Sir Christopher Farrelly - photo taken at the City Mission, Auckland
“Sir Christopher” served as Auckland City Missioner for five years of humanitarian service till retirement in 2021. During his tenure as CEO, he delivered significant change to the organisation, enabling the Mission to provide greater support to more people than ever before. His leadership and commitment to helping the most vulnerable people was truly inspiring. National and civic leaders today affirmed that his mana, prestige and integrity sprang from deep sensibility and sense of compassion.
My personal and enduring friendship goes back to a year spent in rural Korea between 1978 and 1979. Much was learned in Yongju. We reflected on the local, national and global changes, and the experiences that were impacting our lives. We identified the issues that opened us to fresh bold ways of being on mission. Needless to say, we gave a lot of thought to the manner of our presence, and to emerging hopeful outcomes.
For Chris, an early focus of interest and commitment related to the notion and practice of solidarity. He ran with the assured conviction that our best mission responses must be in favour of people most in need. Spiritual purposes aside, he had the temperament, determination and ability to get in touch with pressing needs. In a situation with urban poor in Seoul, Chris faced the task of integrating justice with pastoral care. He found teamwork as a valued and essential feature to make life in the shanty areas more endurable.
Assignments took us in different directions, but occasions arose to share experiences and insights from our cross-cultural journeys. We absorbed many fresh motivating concepts from Vatican II and worldwide mission: dignity, respect, rights, diversity, harmony, solidarity, and a whole lot more. Back in Aotearoa New Zealand, we found ourselves changed and enriched from overseas exposure in Asia. We found that our homeland was spirit-filled and hospitable, yet society was struggling with inclusion and tolerance.
The impulse remained in us to find the prophetic edge, and somehow to be relevant to the task on hand. Along the way, a few deliberate and life-changing choices added to the narrative. Over the past twenty-five years, Chris brought remarkable leadership and managerial skills to significant roles in the healthcare sector in Northland. His interest and involvements extended to indigenous and civic matters and advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable. His visionary and compassionate approach flourished in his recently completed role at Auckland City Mission. To the end, he worked in humble service of those most in need across the city of Auckland.
Nga mihi nui
Michael Gormly - Columban Mission, Lower Hutt, New Zealand.