A Position Statement
by Bill Hodge
Spring / Summer 2016
1. The Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC) began in New Zealand by Sister Mary
of St. Joseph, an Auckland Carmelite sister, organising (via a friend) a small interest
group to meet monthly and pray about the place of Jews in the Catholic Church.
2. A small group of highly motivated and well informed young people met monthly
at the Carmelite Monastery in Mt Albert, and together, explored things Jewish in the
context of the Church.
3. They used to advertise their monthly meetings in the “N Z Catholic” but had very
4. The group were involved in other apostolates and in fact this involvement led
them to all take up various pursuits as youth missioners in New Zealand and
overseas, or to enter religious orders.
5. When I came on the scene (in 2011) the members of the group were already in
transition to other causes.
6. Sister Mary of St. Joseph asked me to assume responsibility for the AHC in New
Zealand. I continued meeting with the small number of young people remaining,
until the last went overseas to a religious order. We advertised but received no sign
7. During the first year of my involvement, I corresponded frequently with
David Moss, the president of the AHC in St. Louis, U.S.A. He is the international
head of the Association. Despite our small numbers David Moss appointed me
President of the New Zealand Branch of AHC. David saw in our communications
the opportunity to do this as a first step towards mobilising interest in building
the AHC, as well as a better understanding among New Zealanders of the Hebrew
8. It became increasingly clear to me that any people of Jewish lineage, if they
entered the Catholic Church, tended to “play down” any Jewish links they had.
I understood this since I was frequently disturbed and embarrassed by the way
some of our people referred to Judaism and Jews, and how they misinterpreted
the Scriptures. One or two such examples were bordering on being anti-Semitic.
Any Jew or person of Jewish descent would quite reasonably shrink at this kind of
demeaning and demonising references to Jews and their Faith!
The people involved in these examples are amongst the finest one could ever
hope to meet — but their attitudes and perceptions of things and people Jewish
can be terribly hurtful and divisive. Our response to this is not to protest but
to offer our perspective in a culture of reflection, discussion and meditation. It is
the Hebrew way.
9. When I considered this in the context of attitudes towards Jews in the 1940’s
and 1950’s when I grew up, I could see that there was, among a large section of our
Church members, little appreciation of the immense contribution Jewish culture
has made to the life and liturgy of the Church.
10. I discussed this situation with a friend of mine, a Presbyterian Elder, who had
a deep interest in Hebrew Catholic culture, though choosing at the same time, to
remain committed to his own Faith community.
I decided that, with his help, I would try to do something positive and creative
about the lack of knowledge and appreciation of Judaism’s role in Salvation
History, by preparing a series of “Reflections” on the Gospel readings in the
Three Year Lectionary.
These modest Gospel Reading notes, with their Hebrew Catholic perspective, are
presented in a format to assist readers in home settings who wish to explore the
depths of the Scriptures in a Jewish approach to meditating on the Divine Word.
Complementary notes on meditation are also made available on our website.
11. The series of Gospel Reflections is, therefore, a response to the need to find a
starting point for AHC in New Zealand to commence an active apostolate. Our
approach can thus proceed from a positive and reasonably informed, truly Biblical
position. This “position” has shaped the contents of our website
At this point we would like to draw attention to our utmost loyalty to the Holy See,
and its prohibition regarding the proselytising of Jews. We are highly motivated
towards evangelisation, but our role is carried out within the Church — and it is
from this position we believe we can offer the greatest support to the Church in
these troubled times.
12. We have now reached a stage where we can review the role we might perform
and invite interested parties to participate in discerning how best we can move forward.
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective in New Zealand
A number of key points and principles emerged as significant features we want to
uphold and promote. These have guided a number of papers, tracts and articles we
have published on our website. We list some of those principles here:
1. To begin first with Jews who come to accept Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah and thus
become members of the Church. They need (and deserve) to find a welcoming,
warm and friendly fellowship which reflects aspects of their culture, and seeks to
draw from that culture insights which enhance our perception and understanding
of Jesus, and our relationship with Him. It is not enough just to invoke inspiring
documents and say the right things. We need to be “doing it on the ground”.
2. We believe it is critically important to understand that the Hebrew Catholic
apostolate is not just for Jews alone. It is part of a vast and beautiful stream of
Hebrew Catholic heritage which welcomes all who support our aims and wish to
participate. Regardless of one’s family lineage, we can all belong to this stream of
There is a wonderful feast of instruction in the teaching of the Blessed Apostle Paul
dealing with how Jews and Gentiles in the Church can all call upon Abraham as
“our father in the Faith” Thus we can celebrate our sharing something precious to God.
As Pope Pius XI said, “We are all Semites, spiritually“.
We have made provision for the establishment of a Fellowship to work within and /
or alongside the Association of Hebrew Catholics. This has been done to offer people
of quite different backgrounds a chance to participate in a wide variety of
systematically organised educational and devotional pursuits.
Our website presents the two sides of our work here in New Zealand.
There are some excellent and truly inspirational articles and statements published by
the Vatican and, more generally, an increasing array of Christian literature to help
readers benefit from the rediscovered treasury of Jewish Scriptural spirituality and
culture. Our articles offer links to some of this invaluable literature.
3. Why do we hold our Jewish heritage in the Church to be so precious?
Our third point is that the Hebrew Catholic “perspective” is not just a fascination with
the past. Rather, it is an intense desire to rediscover and share our recovery of a vital
part of our Christian “psyche”. This brings the real Jesus into focus in a world of
confusion and disintegration.
Jesus Christ (Messiah) is our King!
The real Jesus
is the real answer
to the real needs
of this world!
4. Another principle we hold dear is our focus on the family and their home. We are a
home-based apostolate. That certainly does not exclude Church or Synagogue
gatherings, but we are strongly family-focussed.
The Holy Family is our model.
YMY: Yeshua, Miriam and Yossef.
5. We direct much of our effort towards equipping and strengthening parents and
caregivers to conduct study and worship gatherings with other families, neighbours and
friends. We emphasise our belonging to Jesus Messiah — and His Body, the Church —
and therefore to one another.
We are family!
6. We have a strong sense of service to God and our communities — wherever we live.
As one example of how this can be expressed, we have adopted a sevenfold model of
service. Each phase in this is vital. A summary of this model is attached to this article.
7. Young people have a major contribution to make at every level of this model. In the
Hebrew tradition: from the time of their Confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they
are respected as young adults with essential and critically important roles to perform.
They are taught to listen: “Shema!” And they are also listened to.
These are some of our key values and principles of operation.
And So — Where To From Here?
The Association of Hebrew Catholics and its partner body, the “Hebrew Catholic
Fellowship” of the Household of God have been in a state of “pause”. This was not
a period of “just waiting for something to happen”. The skeletal “steering” party
have been working at the fastest rate of which they were capable, producing a basic
curriculum of Biblical materials (i.e. Gospel Reflections) to provide a platform from
which to build a basis for understanding the Hebrew Catholic perspective.
During 2017 and 2018 we would like to strengthen our steering group with others who
share our vision — or at least, would like to know more about it and become an
integral part of the unfolding vision.
A Little Extra Reading
You may like to peruse articles on our website www.hebrewcatholic.org.nz .
We recommend the following as an extension of what is written in this paper.
We consider them an essential and integral part of this presentation.
Thank you for reading this article. We wish you and your loved ones every blessing.
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Our Sevenfold Model of Service
This is an extract from:
“Hebrew Catholic Fellowship of the Household of God“
the Hebrew Catholic website paper page 28.
Seven candles giving light to the world
Welcoming and nurturing one another ― We are family.
Highlighting the dignity of being members of the Household of God, — building
a culture and atmosphere befitting such a Household; and welcoming any
genuine person who wishes to be associated with us.
Helping by prayer and action, any person in need, especially those experiencing
misfortune or suffering from some disability, injustice, social disadvantage or
By intercession, personal spirituality and various activities, fostering and
maintaining a spirit of inclusivity, belongingness, and unity among members,
as well as seeking the recovery, reconciliation and restoration of anyone who
has been separated from God in any way — offering them every assistance
within our reach.
Learning and Sharing ― We are disciples of Jesus Christ.
Providing appropriate learning experiences ranging from simple guided learning
to advanced leadership training and studies — thus equipping members and
interested persons who participate with Christ-focussed Biblical and spiritual
knowledge, skills and values.
Fostering the spiritual life of each member of our Fellowship and all who wish
to be associated in any way — thus strengthening their relationship with God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Pursuing a wide range of opportunities to communicate the living vitality of
our Lord Jesus to all in need of His love and care.
Celebrating and Worshipping ―
We are members of the Household of God.
Guiding private and public worship, meditation and contemplation, to help us
respond with love and gratitude to the awesome presence of God in the world,
in our communities, in our homes, and in our hearts, as we await the Glorious
Return of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of time.
Inviting all to celebrate the whole of Salvation History in a Hebrew Catholic
manner, centred in the Eucharist and to let it flow on into all aspects of life in
the Church: the Body of Christ.
Jesus Christ is our King!