Dear Friend,

I have just moved office from Kaiwharawhara Rd in Wellington to the Presbytery of St Patrick Parish in Wainuiomata in the Hutt Valley two weeks ago. It surely was laborious, but I find myself in a more homely atmosphere now, and I am hoping I can work better with MissioNZ.

It is timely that I just finished a Christmas Newsletter to send you who are one of our beloved benefactors. You find this after this letter. I feel happy to produce this small publication to share with you some thoughts especially from the heart of our Office Patron, Pope Francis, our office being a Pontifical office. He surely serves as an inspiration, not only for Catholics but to all who strive to bring Peace on Earth – the outstanding primal message of the great Christmas Day when Jesus was born two millennia ago. You are part of making it happen since your prayers and financial gifts help in continuing the proclamation of that message of peace as translated through the efforts of Catholic Missionaries all over the world.

I feature the children of Syria and Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, Bishop of Aleppo in Syria, who struggle to regain their dignity as a people of faith. I also include the story of Maria, Yunan, Carlos and Brother Mauricio in Peru. New Zealand may be a long way from Syria and Peru, and yet the faith and compassion of benefactors bridge the distance to make a statement that they are not alone. In humble reflection we all are made aware that such faith-filled and caring hearts are “windows to the Heart of God”.

Since the first Christmas I spent as a missionary in Brazil way back in 1983, I have always been preaching at every start of the Christmas Season the truth that I believe in the Miracles of Christmas. A lady with 7 children who was abandoned by her husband for years taught me this. “If we who are so limited want to give a special gift to our beloved during Christmas, how much more will our loving Father in Heaven? I have requested God for things that money could not buy: health, respect, enough not to go destitute, will to persevere to struggle for my family, and even the return of my estranged husband. The Lord has not turned me down; even my husband came back one Christmas Eve, repentant, and firmly resolved to move on again with the family if forgiven.” Peace that is productive starts with forgiveness. Maybe this is why we call Jesus, our Redeemer – because he forgives. Forgiveness brings peace to all who believe in a better tomorrow. Missionaries believe in the Miracles of Christmas. Is there a miracle you want to see for real in your life this Christmas Season 2014? Pray sincerely from your heart.

May your Christmas Season be blessed. Remember to pray for peace.

Fr Bernard Espiritu, SVD

National Director – MissioNZ