Saint Michael & All Angels Parish, in Christchurch, New Zealand, aspires to the Anglo-Catholic way of worship inspired by the 19th century Oxford Movement in the Church of England. This movement aimed at restoring the High Church ideals of the 17th century, spurred on by the progressive decline of Church life, and the spread of a reform liberalism, which sought to erode the faith and practice of the early catholic and apostolic tradition. However, the mission of the parish has also been influenced by the exigencies of modern life. We have taken on board such 20th/21st century issues as:
- The ordination of women to the three orders of sacred ministry;
- The Gospel ministry of all the laity – through their Baptism into Christ;
- Acceptance of all people as bearers of God’s image and likeness – regardless of gender, race, religious affiliation, social or cultural background;
- The upholding of the catholic and apostolic fundamentals of the Christian faith as supported by the Anglican Church of Aotearoa / New Zealand, and adhered to by its 3 tikanga partners: Maori, Pakeha and Pacifica. We consider ourselves AFFIRMING CATHOLICS.
The fullness of the Anglo-Catholic tradition was introduced to the parish of St. Michael and All Angels by Father Burton, an English priest who began his ministry at St.Michael’s in 1910, having been influenced by the Oxford Movement. The previous Vicar of the parish had been the Revd Walter Averill, who later became Archbishop of New Zealand. He helped to steer the parish towards its eventual Anglo-Catholic ethos but it remained for Fr. Burton to introduce the more overt Anglo-Catholic liturgical practices that were to form the basis of St. Michael’s present-day faith and worship.
As in other New Zealand Anglican parishes aspiring to introduce the more catholic aspects of faith and devotion in their presentation of worship, the clergy of St. Michael’s experienced some difficulties in the early days – in the way of suspicion from some of the hierarchy and clergy of the diocese. However, the devoted care and teaching of members of the Community of the Sacred Name who staffed St. Michael’s School, which was part of the parish plant and outreach, helped to allay most of the criticism and eventually to dispel any doubts as to the credibility of the mission of the parish to the people of Christchurch.
The Daily Mass – in the Pilgrim Chapel – has long been an established tradition in the parish, and is presently maintained with the willing help of a team of dedicated (and honorary) retired clergy. With such a team of ordained people, and the assistance of a large team of servers, the Daily Mass and the Sunday solemn services exemplify the sacramental heart of our ministry to the Church and the World.
Sunday Worship consists of an 8am Mass from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) in the Lady Chapel. The 10am Solemn Sung Mass is celebrated at the Nave Altar, with president, deacon & sub-deacon.
At 7pm, there is Solemn Evensong & Benediction (see Activities page for daily services)
Celebration of Liturgy. St. Michael’s treasures its tradition of liturgical observance. The Sunday Mass and Evensong & Benediction – as well as special Solemn Celebrations on major Saints and Feast Days – set out to proclaim the glory of God with the use of incense, processional Cross and banners, robed choir, servers, lay as well as clergy ministry. We celebrate the complementarity of all God’s people in worship.
The Reserved Sacrament is housed in the carved wooden Wakahuia, the Maori version of the traditional hanging pyx, which helps to facilitate the Distribution of the Eucharist to the Sick and Housebound, and reminds visitors to the Church of our bi-cultural roots, and the Presence of Christ in our community.
A weekly Healing Service takes place at the 12.35 Mass on Thursdays, at which the Laying-on-of-Hands and Holy Unction are administered
A statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, carved locally and donated by a former parishioner, stands near the great West door, and is a focus of devotion to Our Lady. The standing candelabrum is available for votive candles, providing an opportunity for requesting intercessory prayers.
The Sacrament of Penance is available on request to any of the clergy.