Papakura District’s population is 45,800 (June 2013) and is estimated to be growing at fifteen times the rate of New Zealand as a whole and is predominantly European. Over 60% residents living in Papakura District belong to the European ethnic group and 36% belong to Maori and Pacific Islander group, the remainder includes some 49 different ethnic groups including, Filipino, Fijian Indian, Korean, Dutch being some of the bigger groups. The city council is planning for Papakura’s population to more than double by 2050. The Catholic population is around 3000.
The Sunday congregation presents a colourful mix of culture and age which helps to make the liturgies diverse and lively.The parish is a mix of both town and country, reaching out to Clevedon, Ardmore, Kawakawa Bay in the East, Karaka and Kingseat in the West, Drury, Hunua, Ararimu and Ramarama in the south and Takanini and Conifer Grove in the North.
There is one church centre, St Mary’s in central Papakura. The three weekend Masses, vigil at 5.00pm and Sundays at 8.30am and 10.30am account for a Mass attendance of around 700. Weekday Masses, 9am Monday – Friday mornings are well attended. A Mass in honour of Our Lady is celebrated on Saturday mornings at 8.30am.
A Samoan Mass is provided, third Sunday of the month, a Tongan Mass 2nd Sundayss (every 2nd month) and a Filipino Mass on the second Sunday. A Maori Mass is held at the neighbouring parish of Manurewa on the fourth Sunday of the month. Mass is celebrated at Clevedon on the First Sunday of the month in The Clevedon Presbyterian Church.The parish provides for a variety of lay ministries. Liturgical ministries are strong we have a musical director who trains church choir which is supported by competent musicians. The liturgies are well prepared and presented. Training courses for Ministers of the Word, Eucharistic Ministers are presented twice a year. Altar servers are also trained, male and female.
Sacramental programmes are in place, a Religious Education Class is held on Saturdays for primary school age children and Children’s Liturgy is held each Sunday at the 10.30am Mass.There are a number of others groups which function within the parish, RCIA, Prayer Groups, Scripture Study Group, Legion of Mary, Parish Council Pastoral and Financial, Liturgy Committee, Meditation Groups, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School PPTA and Board of Trustees, St Mary’s Playgroup, St Vincent de Paul, Speak English Classes and more.
The parish primary school is integrated, pupils of which 5% are non-Catholic. The Catholic Character of the school is strong with a dedicated teaching staff. The priests of the parish are involved in the school activities, school Masses are held and also occasional School Ministry Masses on Sundays in the Church.Reconciliation, Rite II is provided for each term. Class room visitation takes place each week. A secondary school is at the planning stage, projected opening date to be advised. The youth of the parish have a choice of six Catholic Colleges within easy reach to choose from. A small youth group is functioning with a view to grow next year. A youth representative is on the parish council. It is recognised that there is room for an increase in parish support for young people following Children’s worship to young adulthood.
Mass, with anointing for the sick, is celebrated four times a year on the First Friday of the month (which is always a 10am Mass). Visitation of the Parish is on-going. Evangelization and spiritual development of the parish also on-going. Within the parish boundaries are several rest homes, hospices, and a private hospital. Papakura Parish is part of the South Auckland Deanery which meets monthly. Each month, the ministers fraternal, covering the local churches of the Papakura area meets. Ecumenical activities annually include an ‘Advent Service’ and an ‘Ash Wednesday Service’ along with both the Anglican and Methodist churches of Papakura. ‘World day of Prayer’ is also celebrated. Ecumenical relations are strong and ongoing.A language school functions each Thursday of the week to assist recent arrivals from Korea, Cambodia and elsewhere. There are a number of dedicated and skilled teachers of various ethnic groups who do this work.The parish plant includes a large parish hall, well serviced, and a meeting room (Fr Tom Ryder Centre) with parish library (including books from Fr Tom Ryder’s library) – both rooms are available for hire. Video facilities also provided. The parish office functions Monday to Friday 9.30 – 3pm). Staff include a Pastoral Associate, Parish Secretary, Pastoral Worker.The parish is fortunate to have the priestly services of the Parish Priest, bringing strengths into the parish life of St Mary’s.
Parishioners are involved in a wide variety of organisations and activities within the town and throughout the area. The parish and church have a high profile in the town.