Te Ahi Kaa o Mataūranga – The Hearth Place of Learning is the Diocesan Catholic Young Adult Community. Based in the Palmerston North CBD, this is where 20 – 35 year olds can spend a year focusing on prayer, hospitality, formation and service. In this article, current community members reflect on their experience thus far.
I came to Te Ahi Kaa o Mātauranga mostly because I want to to live in community and be more involved in the wider community. I know it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in my own life, hideaway from the world a bit, and become isolated from those around me. Living at Te Ahi Kaa is a sure fire way to disrupt this pattern, because it just won’t work if we don’t all live in a more communal way where we work together toward common goals. The common goals of providing a place and opportunities for young adults to feel welcome, build friendships, talk about the important things in life, and have a sense of community are what Te Ahi Kaa is about to me.
Te Ahi Kaa is also about reaching out to the wider community – getting involved in the church community, and hopefully, helping where is needed further afield too. Since arriving at Te Ahi Kaa, I have had the opportunity to meet, work with, and get to know some of the wonderful people in the church community that I’ve only ever known from a distance, or not at all. I look forward to continuing these relationships and getting to know more of the wonderful people I know are out there.
As part of my job at St. Peter’s College, Palmerston North I have been coaching a team of students for the Religious Questions event at O’Shea Shield. The document that the team and I have been studying is Christus Vivit: a document written by Pope Francis to young people in March 2019. In it, he talks about Christ being alive and wanting us to be alive. He also says “the Gospel calls us to cultivate meaningful relationships”.
Through living at Te Ahi Kaa o Matauranga, I have found a good place to make this happen. We have welcomed others in, to share in our hospitality and I have gotten to know new people, not only the two I am living with but others who have come to visit. Te Ahi Kaa is an intentional community where we try to put our faith into action. It has been a big commitment for me but I am starting to learn a bit more about myself and how I relate to others.
Pope Francis also talks about the importance of being ‘young at heart’: being joyful and open-minded. The community at Te Ahi Kaa certainly try to have these qualities.
It’s a delight for me living at Te Ahi Kaa o Mātauranga here in Palmy, in a city where I have yet to encounter an unfriendly face. For a Marist, Te Ahi Kaa is indeed the Fire in the hearth where the woman who said yes so willingly to her God welcomes the Word and sees to others’ needs at the same time. But Mary’s yes, and ours, is not without question, which is at the heart of learning; the kind of education and formation grown through connection, commitment and communion. Te Ahi Kaa is a community rather than a flat, and its goal is specific: to live the Christ life in a rhythm of prayer, work and service, with welcome at its hearth, a welcome to other young adults, and service to the wider community, in both church and society. It bubbles over into joy and laughter.
I have lived with like-minded young adults for many years now, which is both challenge and delight for me and perhaps also for them occasionally! I feel very privileged since, despite my balding pate and greying beard, they keep me young – my youth renewed like the eagle’s, as Psalm 103 has it.