A Small Branch In A Big Tree
Shalom Aleichem! and Welcome!
This web site celebrates the unbroken unity between the
ancient people Israel and the new people (Gentiles) grafted into it.
- There is an unbroken unity between the ancient people Israel and the new people grafted into it. “The Church (therefore) cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles. Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.” “Nostra Aetate”, Vatican Council 1965…
- Jews who become Christian help that olive tree become stronger by continuing to cherish and maintain their culture in the church, transformed in the light of Christ.
- “The faith witnessed in the Bible of the Jews, is for us not a different religion but the foundation of our own faith…” (Cardinal Ratzinger: Now Pope Benedict XVI)
The Hebrew Catholics in New Zealand feel privileged to be part of a relatively new apostolate in the Church. We are indeed a small country of just under 4.5 million people — the population of Greater Boston in the United States of America. Our density shows at an average of approximately 16 — 17 persons per square kilometre, though most of the country has only one or less person per square kilometre.
As a Branch of the Association of Hebrew Catholics we support the prophetic vision of the late Fr. Elias Friedman, O.C.D. who founded the Association. Likewise we are grateful to be associated with the international centre of AHC at St. Louis, and David Moss, President, together with all those who are connected in some way with this great work.
Starting Point in Auckland, New Zealand
In the Diocese of Auckland, a group of young, active Catholics, under the guidance of Sr. Mary of St. Joseph O.C.D. set up a havurah (a gathering; plural — havurot), thus preparing a space as they called it so beautifully, for Jewish or Hebrew Catholics. They have laid a wonderful foundation of prayer, study, and general spiritual formation.
About 4 years later one person of Jewish descent “came out of the woodwork”, completely overwhelmed by (a) the Church’s desire to provide graciously for the presence of a restored Israelite community within the Church! (Cardinal Raymond Burke), and (b) by this little havurah’s warmth, dynamism, spiritual strength, and sense of calling.
The workings of this havurah, indeed the New Zealand Branch, are true to the intentions and philosophy of the Founder, Fr. Elias Friedman O.C.D. which may be summarised as:—
— Working entirely within the Church;
— Helping Jews and preparing for any who might wish to enter the Catholic Church (other than by prosletysing);
— Participating in the general mobilisation of the new Evangelisation;
— Embracing non-Jewish Catholics who wish to join this movement as sons and daughters of Abraham (as described in the Torah), sons and daughters of God (as identified in St. John chapter 1: 12 — 13.) and thus as partners in the vision — fellow members in a restored presence within the Church, together learning and sharing Jewish / Catholic culture.
— Welcoming people of other religious backgrounds who wish to be associated with this movement of the Holy Spirit;
— Holding up the light of our Faith in the Church — which we see as rooted in Abraham’s response to God — his total obedience, loyalty and unwavering faith at a time when there were considered to be a lot of different deities and not just the One Creator.
(Sister Mary O.C.D.)
We encourage all who have any Jewish descent through either parent, whether they have documents to show it or not, to value this and build on it within the Church. The Catholic Church strongly endorses this restoration within its Body.
Other Cultural Heritage: A Matter of Partnership
(Pope Pius XI: “We are all Semites, spiritually”)
In our havurot (gatherings, groups) we welcome members of the Church who come from other than Jewish backgrounds and who wish to participate as equal partners in the building up of a Catholic Jewish culture and play an active role in its growth and apostolate. The AHC also welcomes people who are not Catholic but who also wish to participate in the work of AHC. To ensure we are fully inclusive, we assume no prior knowledge of Judaism (or for that matter, even Catholicism) and place no one under any obligation other than to support the aims of the havurah group, and to help make learning opportunities widely available.
Forming A Havurah
Our Branch will assist groups of any size throughout New Zealand — (or anywhere) to form a havurah. The first step would be to contact us and discuss the matter. We assure you of every encouragement and support we can reasonably provide. The AHC President’s paper, on the international AHC web site, “Purpose and Functions of a Havurah,” provides a brief overview of the role of a havurah.
Our Branch is involved in the preparation of resources for use among havurot, home groups, and other Christian communities. Our apostolate is expanding in such a way that we are hard pressed to attend immediately to everything we would wish. If you feel an inclination to be associated with us we assure you of a warm welcome.
We hope you will consider joining us in this very beautiful and exciting work of the Holy Spirit within the Church! Shalom.