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Eucharist in New Zealand

NZ Anglican Eucharist Requirements

Eucharist in New Zealand

I have been pressing the Anglican Church here to be upfront about the liturgical chaos in our province. I think there is huge confusion about what is required, allowed, and forbidden. And that alongside inadequate study, training, and formation in worship. General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2012 (GSTHW) received a motion from our diocese seeking movement on this, but it did not discuss that motion, passing it on to Standing Committee to address. As we near the next meeting of GSTHW, we have heard no more about it. So I am going to start by making my own reflections on this.

I think that the minimum requirements are totally inadequate to preserve and encourage common prayer** in a relatively small worshipping community. We are careful not to gather national statistics, but I am going to guess that around 30,000 will gather for the Eucharist in Anglican Churches in New Zealand this Sunday – that’s the size of a hearty diocese in some places and in the past.

The requirements are:

  • A priest [or bishop] leads The Great Thanksgiving.
  • The bread for the Eucharist should be a good quality bread; the wine for the Eucharist should be a good quality wine.
  • Any remaining consecrated bread and wine, unless reserved, is consumed.
  • There is a reading from a Gospel [It is unclear if that Gospel reading must be the one either in BCP, 2 Year Series, 3 Year Series, or RCL; or can just be a verse chosen by someone, for example.]
  • Any Eucharistic Prayer may be used that is approved by GSTHW, or equivalent, of any member church of the Anglican Communion.*

As far as I can see that’s it. Greetings, responses, singing, readings, movement, action, everything EVERYTHING! is possible. And nothing more is required. Let me put it more plainly for those who are skimming and take for granted their own experience – there is no requirement for collect, confession, blessing, any of the responses you experience, nothing that makes your church the same in anything whatsoever in the words said or sung as any other church in this land.

*and yes you did read that correctly: the only words required in the service need not be authorised here – we are perfectly happy to rely on others having authorised them in another country somewhere else. Even if those others forbid the use of their words for the normal Sunday Eucharist there – we can still use them for that here.

A case might be made that the only limitation (“what is forbidden”) would be anything that contradicts the formularies. Good luck with that!

I would love it if I am incorrect. If you aren’t sure, pass this post onto your diocesan lawyer (chancellor), bishop, GSTHW rep. Tell me where I have it wrong and why.

The surprise for some, beyond these shores, and possibly even within them, is that even with this unbelievable minimum requirement for our “common prayer”** many Anglicans on Sunday will flaunt this and do whatever they think is right in their own eyes. Each of the above 5 minimum points is broken in our province, without even much of a raised eyebrow.

**Do tell me what is held in common in this type of “common prayer”.

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42 thoughts on “NZ Anglican Eucharist Requirements”

  1. I am not sure, Bosco, that things are quite as chaotic as your post implies!

    Yes, by all means focus on ‘minimum requirements’, show how few those are, and then observe that even they are flouted. (Actually, are there more minimal requirements: aren’t wearing robes by the presiding priest also to be included?)

    Another way to enquire of our church is to ask what widespread practice consists of.

    (To take a few items, not a complete list) My experience is that widely: there is confession and absolution, a collect is said, one of the four main eucharistic prayers of our prayer book is used, and a dismissal is given. While certainly there are parishes following their own reading scheme (normally because they are reading through the Bible systematically on an ‘evangelical’ scheme) it is years since I have come across a ‘lectionary’ parish which is not following the RCL.

    In short, I would describe our church in its practice as:

    holding more in common than ‘minimal requirements’ might lead us to expect;

    yes, exploring many variations (as permitted), but not in a chaotic manner;

    including a set of churches working in an ‘evangelical’ mode re readings (but in doing so, continuing a long established practice in many evangelical parishes of not following the lectionary of the day).

    I am happy that we press for greater commonality (e.g. wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had one agreed-and-superb collect to say together each week?), but I wonder how we should try to pres forward? Through common desire or through more requirements?

    [Incidentally, to show that I am game-keeper as much as poacher, I went to use one of the recently published collects of our church – your post below – and found it quite unwieldy in length and structure. Not to worry, a line or two chopped out and it became unexpectedly ‘superb’ 🙂 ]

    1. Yes, to all that Peter.

      You are correct – the presiding priest [or presumably bishop] should be robed. I had thought about adding that originally, but thought it in a different category eg. there also is a holy table or altar. Also: the priest shall not celebrate alone. Let me know: I am very happy to update the post with the addition of robing, Peter, if you think it better fits with the categories in the original post, than with altar table & other environment requirements.

      I very much approach things, as you know, from a rubrics as descriptive rather than legalistically prescriptive approach. So might our rubrics not better reflect the positive practice that you so widely experience? I do not believe there is a single other Anglican province in the Communion that is so permissive. If you are saying that our concrete worship life is no different to theirs (and I would question that), this is unsupported by an undergirding of our rubrics, and may merely be the trajectory continuing with many clergy still having been formed in a less permissive context. Is the disconnect between rubric and practice, then, a warning towards a more chaotic, less common prayer, future?

      At heart, in this post, I want us (including GSTHW) to be honest with ourselves – this is where our rules are at. And then to ask ourselves – is this where we want the rules to be at? Is this useful?…

      I would love you to please add your revised collect as a comment to Monday’s post as well as forwarding your revision to the General Synod Office as requested.


      1. Hi Bosco
        I have no particular brief to support robing in all situations – I am just noting its mention in NZPB.

        Generally, I think rubrics should be descriptive of practice rather than prescriptive.

        There is certainly a need from that ‘descriptive’ perspective to update our rubrics.

        Whether we would move into greater chaos if we do not so revise (or, if we do revise!) I am not sure!

  2. It may be different where you are, but in the Church of England when clergy are ordained, and when they take up any new post in the Church of England, they are required to swear an oath of canonical obedience to the Bishop, which includes the statement that ‘in public prayer and administration of the sacraments I will use only the forms of service which are authorised or allowed by canon.’

  3. As in many other Communion bodies, one of the confusions and contentions, even here in Canada is the need for weekly Eucharist service. If the question is about the layout and presbyteries role that is well set out in Rubics and Canonical laws, by each body. I feel your comments are more about the actual substance and form of where a wine and body are used, whether it is subject to some limitation. I know of no definite convention to exact what would be out of bounds. I have shared Communion worship under even battle field situation. We all are Anglican in my view by a reason to attend a service, casual or formal, to read scripture in any portion which can be the heart of discussion, dialogue of some part, and share a peace of grace, so that a tradition of worship is best received by the persons two or more in present. I think we as a church catholic are making far too much about what, where and when. Our coming of the belief can never be so simple yet vital in how to be in faith, care for each other, and forgive us when we miss a step that allows us to like Christ, with Christ and salvation of a One Bread, Body and spirit of grace, mercy and thanks for what Christ taught us as the Great Commandment.

  4. Bosco,

    I don’t think that Common Prayer is done in common any longer, it is a reality of our society – we live in micro-communities. Perhaps the Church needs to move with the times and let go of antiquated ways of enforcing rules.

    I wonder if the reality you’ve described before as the ‘church of Or’ fits what seems to be the mantra of the ACANZP “unity in diversity” across every area from theology to furnishings. I won’t be elevating the bread or wine, but others are free to do so. I won’t be wearing a chasuble, but others are free to do so. Some will be sing responses, but I am free not to. I won’t be issuing any instruction to stand for the Gospel, but in some places this will be an important part of te Eucharistic service. I have to say at times I share your frustration Bosco, especially with using liturgy from other places which isn’t approved here.

    At the same time I fear that tightening up the rules would force me into even breaking more of them than I already do (I don’t consume the consecrated leftovers, or robe), because they simply will not fit a low Church approach to celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

    1. Thanks, Zane, for your helpful concrete illustrations.

      I would differ from you on one point: your “the Church needs to move with the times and let go of antiquated ways of enforcing rules”. I have not seen any evidence of these “antiquated ways” – I do not see any enforcing of the few rules we do have [which was the point in my last paragraph]. And you have acknowledged you break these (present continuous tense) – are you saying there are “enforcing” consequences for you?

      I think what I would like is an actual, official acknowledgement of the position you describe so well. Then we can more honestly have a discussion amongst ourselves about whether this is really where we want to be – and if so, fine. In this “unity in diversity” you call our “mantra” – what is our unity constituted by? Have we (formally) agreed that whatever you say it is, actually is our unity?


      1. Hi Bosco, you are spot on, we do not see any enforcing of the few rules we do have, which I break as a matter of conscience.

        This reality extends not only to our Liturgy, but to doctrine in general within the ACANZP. We have bishops who flout the canons re: ordination. We have parishes who publish requirements for a vicar which contravene the canons re: admittance to the Lord’s Supper! It seems the cry for via media, or unity in diversity, and our particular interpretation of it in these Isles (i.e anything goes bro)has left us in a place where we are bereft of any ability to enforce anything.

        I certainly haven’t been told off for not robing, not consuming the consecrated elements remaining, or using less that good quality bread or wine in a pinch! I think it is very difficult for someone to throw the first stone, and in any diocese you will see plenty of clergy knowingly, or unknowingly disobeying these requirements.

        I think the ACANZP has fooled itself into believing we exist in some kind of happy harmony, so no one rocks the boat.

        We do not have, or appreciate discipline. I think I draw a similar conclusion to you, this is largely due to poor training, and poor theology. I think those people appointed as canons have a responsibility here, as do our bishops, to practice some discipline and hold us togteher in unity around what we hold in common, but there’s the rub, I believe across the ACANZP we hold very little in common. So, what do we do about it? How do we hold different churchmanship, and theological positions together? Is it in robes, eating the leftovers, having a gospel reading, a presbyter reading the Great thanksgiving, using some province somewhere’s approved text and quality bread and wine? I’m not convinced that will do it. It makes me sad.

  5. “Each of the above 5 minimum points is broken in our province, without even much of a raised eyebrow”
    Really? That boggles the mind. Or at least mine.

      1. I am that presbyter mentioned above, who has attempted to be candid (open, honest, truthful, sincere) about the fact that I don’t often robe for services and don’t consume the uneaten consecrated bread and wine.

        I know clergy who describe themselves as being from other faiths (one even as neo-pagan), or who bless same-sex civil-unions, some lead non-Christian prayers or meditations in their churches, and there are plenty of others who deny the jesus had a bodily ressurection from the dead, or deny the miracles he performed – there is very little order within the ACANZP, if we can’t agree on first order Christian doctrine re: the divinity of Jesus Christ and his death and ressurection, how will we ever hold anything in common in our worship?

        1. May I ask what you do with consecrated bread and wine if it isn’t consumed?

          And what is your theological take on what consecrated bread and wine is? (I’m Catholic so for me it’s the Body and Blood of Christ – transubstantiation.)

          1. Thanks, Tess. I’m unsure if you are asking Zane specifically (you don’t mention him by name) or including Sr Sarah and I about Anglican practice generally. If the latter, Anglican reserving of the consecrated bread and wine would not be much different to Roman Catholic – in an aumbry, what RCs call a tabernacle and Orthodox an artophorion. Our formularies (official teaching) refer to the consecrated bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ, but there is no agreement how that is the case. That would get us into an endless, inconcludable discussion. When you say, “transubstantiation”, for example, are you really accepting the Aristotelian metaphysical understanding of that term. Most RCs would not – but just use “transubstantiation” as shorthand for the Real Presence. Anglicans, in general, would not accept Aristotle’s categories. You may be interested in the agreed joint Anglican-Roman Catholic statement on the Eucharist. Blessings.

          2. Hi Tess,
            I pour the wine into the garden and put the bread out for the birds.

            I believe these things to be symbols or emblems which remind us of the death and resurrection of Jesus but don’t believe in any real presence of Christ in the bread and wine, he indwells his people, not food items.

  6. The 1906 Royal commission on Ecclesiastical Disciple First said “the law of public worship in the Church of England is too narrow for the religious life of the present generation. It needlessly condemns much which a great section of Church people, including many of her most devoted members, value ; and modern thought and feeling are characterised by a care for ceremonial, a sense of dignity in worship, and an appreciation of the continuity of the Church, which were not similarly felt at the time when the law took its present shape”. At that period the movement was towards greater dignity in worship. The movement of our era has been in the other direction, but I’d suggest that ‘too narrow for the religious life of the present generation’ might still describe the situation of the law of public worship..
    On the other hand it seems to me that our Bishop have adequate powers and influence to bring into line anyone straying too far from the spirit of Anglicanism, ie that Bishops are able to insist on liturgical order where boundaries are pushed too far – eg issues like rebaptism; failure to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; eccentricities in the liturgy and so on.

    1. Thanks, Rhys.

      What in the above five requirements do you suggest is “‘too narrow for the religious life of the present generation’ [and] might still describe the situation of the law of public worship..”?

      I am, in this post, focusing on the Eucharist. Your points about baptism may very well be true – when we come to examining that. And we may also come to a post examining whether bishops are immune from “eccentricities in the liturgy and so on” or whether they themselves find the law of public worship that applies to them is too narrow for the religious life of the present generation.


  7. Bosco,

    Another seemingly off-topic question: I’ve seen a reference in Wikipedia’s discussion of Anglican Eucharist to the “Eucharistic Prayer, or ‘Great Thanksgiving'”. You seem to refer to them as different entities, and I’m obviously more familiar with the Roman Catholic liturgy than Anglican. Would you mind a brief explanation, please?

  8. The picture of Glynn Cardy at the top of your story gave me a bit of a chuckle.

    You’d think belief in God would be necessary for celebrants of the Eucharist, but evidently not in Anglican Churh in EnZed as people such as the man pictured happily deny that God is creator and God’s personhood from the pulpit on a regular basis.

    1. I am a bit wary of allowing your point on this thread, Jeremy. It is far removed from the thread’s point. I chose the image as it was one of the first to come up in a search (you note it comes from our church’s official site which I credit). 46% of Americans would say I deny God is creator because I accept the Big Bang and evolution and that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. As to God’s personhood – that cannot be the same usage as of humans. We do not refer to God as three people (unless you are Mormon). I have not been present at Glyn’s points you have heard from him from the pulpit. You have called yourself, on this site previously, orthodox Anglo-Catholic. In that case you will know that no, classically, the doubts and beliefs of the presider are not necessary for the validity of celebrating the Eucharist as your second sentence suggests. Blessings.

      1. Hi Bosco, thank you for allowing the conversation to address other matters relating to the requirements of the Eucharist.

        I would be surprised if 46% of Americans would deny that you believe God is creator – however it’s possible they would say you are gravely mistaken in your belief about how God creates. But that is beside the point, because I don’t think you have denied that God is creator from your pulpit, which is the issue. I have heard and read a number of Glynns sermons.

        Of course God’s personhood is completely other than how we regard human personhood.

        You refer to the donatist heresy – as the church has discerned, the moral failings of the priest do not invalidate their celebrations of the sacraments. However, as ordained and licensed priests, we are required to make oaths and declarations affirming the Catholic faith. It’s one thing to have doubts, and quite another to preach non-theism from the pulpit in clear contravention of these oaths. This is not so much an issue of sacramental validity, but of the ordaining and licensing of priests.

        Every blessing

  9. Re the Church of England – the list of permitted/approved forms of service is quite long and can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/churchlawlegis/canons/supplementary-material.aspx (as can all the Canons and the texts)
    In broad terms, Common Worship is the main service, and all forms can be found on-line. Where the word ‘may’ appears, there are optional choices. Otherwise the requirement is just that – required.
    So, the Greeting is required, the Prayer of Preparation is optional. Prayers of Penitence are required, but the Invitation to Confession is either the suggested text or ‘other suitable words’. The Gloria is optional, the Collect is required. A mininmum of one other reading to precede the Gospel, the Creed is also required. etc.
    “An authorised Eucharistic Prayer is used” – there are several to choose from, but it must be an ‘authorised’ prayer. Likewise, the Fraction and Invitation are required but a Prayer of Humble Access is optional. Authorised words must be used for distribution.
    There is quite a lot of flexibility within the mandatory framework. Further info at the CofE website (see previous link)

    1. Thanks, Helen. What you describe was certainly the case here at least into the early 1990s. I really should check the date when our church changed all that, but I do not know it off by heart. Blessings.

  10. Shouldn’t prayer and worship reflect the community of those praying and worshipping? (and any particular reason for choosing a photo of Glynn when he was still at St Matthew’s in the City?) The idea of a rigid and enforced liturgy seems contrary to much of the teaching of Jesus – but perhaps I am just uninformed. Does Luke 18:9-14 (The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector) not question (amongst other things) the relevance (to God) of formality in religious observation?

    1. So many questions, Chris.

      I’m not sure what you mean exactly by your first question. I wouldn’t want prayer to merely reflect the community. I think Christ draws us, as a community, into God – so we are given prayer.

      I explained above that in searching for an image Glynn’s came up as one of the first, and it is from our church’s official website.

      I also have no idea why you are bringing up “rigid and enforced liturgy”, nor again what you would understand that to mean. Jesus obviously would have followed the liturgical practices of his faith – is that “rigid and enforced”?


  11. ‘Rigid and enforced’ vs ‘anything goes’? It’s a debate that could last some time. In my opinion our worship reflects our beliefs and our liturgy teaches our doctrine. The great appeal of Anglicanism to me is the breadth, but there are those who wish to be outside our liturgical and doctrinal boundaries. I’d like to remain free to disagree, respectfully, with those whose interpretation of the spirit of God’s law differs from mine, and suggest that structure is not always a ‘bad thing’.

  12. “When you say, “transubstantiation”, for example, are you really accepting the Aristotelian metaphysical understanding of that term. Most RCs would not – but just use “transubstantiation” as shorthand for the Real Presence.”

    I mean that at the moment of consecration the substance of bread is replaced with the substance of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. The appearance (or accidents) of bread and wine remain.

    The Real Presence is a literal presence – Jesus is truly present, which is why it’s possibly to adore Jesus Christ in the Blessed Host in Eucharistic adoration.

    1. Thanks, Tess. Did you read the agreed joint Anglican-Roman Catholic statement on the Eucharist that I gave you a link to?

      I don’t really want to have a debate about this. The Anglican Church uses language like:

      Praise and glory to you creator Spirit of God; you make our bread Christ’s body to heal and reconcile and to make us the body of Christ. You make our wine Christ’s living sacrificial blood to redeem the world. (NZPB page 541)

      It does not bind people to a specific theory how this happens. If you think, with Aristotle, that everything has its own substance, and that the computer you read this on and mine on which I type this are the same substance, and the chairs we are sitting on are the same substance – cool. Many (most?) philosophers now would never think of such an idea. It was a useful model when philosophers did.

      Similarly with a “moment of consecration”. The problem with that theory is that the Vatican accepts a Eucharistic Prayer which does not have a “this is my body” text in it as validly consecrating – without a “moment of consecration”.

      The Anglican Church binds us to treat the consecrated bread and wine with reverence, either consuming it or reserving it, just like Roman Catholics and Orthodox and others.


  13. Zane – But what about scripture where Jesus tells us to eat His flesh and drink His blood? I mean in John 6 people freak out and desert Jesus because they were so disgusted with Him teaching that. Surely if it was all just a symbol Jesus would have called them back and cleared that up?

    And I agree, Jesus can not “indwell” in food items, which is why I believe that Jesus completely replaces bread and wine with Himself, keeping the appearance of bread and wine. Jesus is our spiritual food, and He nourishes us with the gift of His own Self.

    1. Tess, Zane has acknowledged himself that he is in breach of his vows as a priest. And does this to follow his conscience. So I want to be clear this is not a “Catholic-Anglican discussion” you are initiating, Tess. The discussion you are starting is not new – there is plenty available on protestant understandings of the Lord’s Supper. If you two want to continue this discussion on this thread, yes, I will allow it if continued respectfully. Blessings.

  14. To my surprise I inherited a practice of chucking the elements out after communion when I came to my present position. I banned it after my first week – to the surprise of some present. I will be reiterating that at a meeting tomorrow: with all respect to Zane, casting out the elements is to this liturgical black duck akin to flag burning: that which has become impregnated with the meaning of the gathered people’s hopes and dreams and backstory (whakapapa) should be treated with the ultimate expression of respect. Unless of course we effectively practice a liturgical theology of real absence – a misapplication of “he is not here he is risen” that was provocatively enshrined in the architecture of one evangelical theological college chapel in Australia.

    This however may need to be explained periodically to the people gathered, as it can look like an unholy swill, or “glug” as one of my concerned collegues expressed it.

    1. Thanks, Michael.

      To those reading this who do not know, Michael has just begun as Dean of Napier Cathedral. Yours, Michael, is not the only cathedral that has had this practice. Let alone other churches.

      For some, of course, such tossing out of the consecrated elements is the height of sacrilege. And as you suggest, it is pointedly, deliberately the polar-opposite of the catholic understanding. The Anglican approach has been to allow a variety and flexibility of interpretation, held together by a unity of practice. That has clearly now broken down in our province (my starting point in this post). With the breakdown of agreed practice in ordination, presiding, and eucharistic consecration, those who seek to continue to hold a more catholic approach (which would resonate with your comment) are only surviving by stretching ecclesia supplet towards breaking point.


  15. Bosco, you have, I think, misled by omission.

    Your five items at the start of your post are found on page 511 of A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Minihare o Aotearoa (ANZPB-HKMoA).

    The heading for the section starting on p 511 is “A form for Ordering the Eucharist”

    While these five items are very light for the main parish Eucharist on a Sunday it compares quite favourably with an “ordinary” weekday Mass from the new Roman Missal. Here the Gloria dn Creed are not normally used for a weekday mass, but may be “prescribed”.

    The section starting on page 511 continues on the following pages. In particular at page 515 are “Additional Directions for the Liturgies of the Eucharist”. It is here we learn
    “The bread … should be of a good quality …”
    “The presiding priest … should wear …”
    “Any remaining … is consumed at the end …”

    Zane may has proven your point about laxity and many (priests and bishops) having their own understanding of how these simple words are to be read and applied.

    Or is it their formation as eucharistic priests was lacking and so it is not their problem.

    1. Sorry, Alan, I cannot work out what your point is. Please tell us specifically what I have omitted in my list that you think is misleading? I am not just drawing from A form for Ordering the Eucharist, but from the total collection of formularies that our church has for the Eucharist. The weekday Mass from the Roman Missal presents specific responses, the collect and readings are fixed, the Eucharistic Prayers one may use are relatively limited in number (10?) – all quite different to the points in my post. Blessings.

  16. I wana KNow if there is an Anglican Rubburics for how to Set a Friggen Altar for Eucharist.
    At My Parish it seems we have all the Cyboriums, CHalices and Wine we can Muster all under the Viel. and Burse According to THe Peoples warden, that is the true ANGLICAN Way, Well BS I say, That just Crap. So is there A Rubrics and why the HEll do the Friggen Evangelicals Get to make up there own Flaming RUles. Not a Good Church attitude i say

  17. Hi
    I’d value understanding what the response after Bible readings is based on. My reason for asking is the number of archaic aspects of our liturgy, which may have meaning to some but largely meaningless to many of us!

    1. I’m not sure that I’m clear what you are asking, Ross – either which response you mean, or what you mean by “based on”? Do you mean the NZ Anglican, “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church”? That is based on the Book of Revelation where it occurs seven times. Blessings.

  18. Hi Fr Bosco,

    I have a question for you regarding the use of a authorised Great Thanksgiving. What would your understanding be on using just part of a Great Thanksgiving? For example, if a priest decided in the 404 to finish the Great Thanksgiving immediately after the Anamnesis? Would this still constitute an authorised Great Thanksgiving?

    Also, please do come up to St John’s and teach us on liturgy at some point. We are desperately in need of it and unfortunately it is the very last paper taught for the academic year. One might think liturgy, of all things, is the least important thing at our college

    1. No, sorry, Benjamin – praying only part of an authorised Eucharistic Prayer is not praying the Great Thanksgiving Prayer as authorised. Your description would also fail to understand the structure of such a prayer which I summarise as Praise – Proclaim – Petition – Praise. Your description would end after Praise – Proclaim. You are more agile than many, Benjamin, in at least being able to articulate the question – many of our clergy would not know what the anamnesis is.

      Liturgy, in my opinion – and that of a few others – is the source and summit of our Christian life.


      1. Thank you very much Father, I thought as much. I was actually in a service where this occurred and it has left me wondering about the legitimacy of it. This is indeed a very helpful response in finding a way forward.

        Me too, Father.

        Ngā mihi nui ki a koe.

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