Parish Priest: Father Seph Pijfers
Father Seph Pijfers took up residence in our parishes at 4:30pm on Wednesday 3 February 2016. Fr Seph has come from the parish of Otari (Karori-Wilton) in Wellington and we hope his time here will be a long and happy one, bearing much fruit for us all. He has met many parishioners and has made quite an impression already!
Fr Seph brings 11 years of priestly experience. Born in Nelson in the mid-1960s, he attended Nelson College where he played rugby. Later he worked as a civil servant for the Department of Social Welfare in Christchurch. Fr Seph answered the call to the priesthood while picking and packing apple in Golden Bay and playing for the Riwaka Rugby Club. He was a representative player for Nelson Bays and played rugby in Italy for 2 years. The captain of his side at the time he left to enter the seminary was Steve Hanson who coached the 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks side. All this sporting experience has well-shaped him for team ministry and to lead us toward amalgamation of the Richmond, Takaka and Motueka parishes.
Lay Pastoral Leader: Merrick Mitchell
Cardinal John Dew announced in January 2016, the appointment of Merrick Mitchell as Lay Pastoral Leader for the parishes of Richmond, Motueka and Takaka. Merrick will be formally installed in this role by Cardnal John on Sunday, 29 Januray 2017 at Richmond.
Merrick is married to Lucia. They have five daughters and three grandchildren. Born in South Africa, Merrick and Lucia emigrated in their 20’s and consider New Zealand as home. Their early years were strongly influenced by experiences as teenagers and young adults in a repressive society, yet one where faith was supportive. The compassion of Jesus was deeply formative at this time.
Merrick trained as a veterinarian, working in clinical practice and then in veterinary public health. In 2006 following a restructure and redundancy, he changed direction to work as a support worker with intellectually disabled people while continuing with animal disease control. He then started his own business as a consultant on best practice accreditation for medical practice systems and procedures.
These changes gave Merrick the opportunity for reflection, and acting upon a sense of calling to ministry. He was accepted into the Archdiocese’s Launch Out Formation Programme, starting in 2007 and finishing in 2015.
Besides an awareness that prayer and prayerful living underpins and supports everything we do as Christians, Merrick has an interest in ecumenical and inter-faith relationships. He also enjoys walking, tramping, reading and gardening and practices meditation and tai chi, all of which he considers to be good spiritual exercises! Merrick views his leadership role as one of ‘presence, empowerment/encouragement and support’.