The Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have chosen Te Ara a Maria: Mary’s Way as the name of the proposal to renew the country’s dedication to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven.

The name was suggested by Manuel Beazley, the Auckland Diocese Vicar for Māori and approved with acclaim last Friday by the bishops at a special meeting held to discuss the project.

“We needed a formal name for the renewal, and Manuel’s suggestion beautifully captures the role of Mary as the model of discipleship who leads us in the way of missionary discipleship,” said Bishop of Hamilton Stephen Lowe, Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.

The bishops also confirmed that the historic St Mary of the Angels church in central Wellington will become a national shrine to Mary. A hikoi of a new artwork of Mary and Jesus will take place around the country after a Mass at St Mary of the Angels renewing the dedication on Sunday 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption.

Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier dedicated the country to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven when he celebrated his first Mass here at Totara Point in the Hokianga on 13 January 1838.

August 15 is always a Holy Day of Obligation for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year it is also a Sunday. Parishes throughout the country will be invited to join in prayer for the renewal of the dedication.

Bishop Lowe said the bishops decided to renew the country’s dedication to Our Lady following requests from parishioners during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown last year. Rangiora artist Damien Walker has been commissioned to paint an image of Mary and Jesus that will be unveiled at St Mary of the Angels on 15 August, then taken on a hikoi around each of the country’s six Catholic dioceses.

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