A 400 strong crowd gathered on Saturday to celebrate the official opening of the Marist Challenge Centre at 1 Wanaka Street, Johnsonville. As the clouds parted, dignitaries who included the Prime Minister Rt. Hon Bill English, local MP’s Peter Dunne and Brett Hudson, the Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, Cardinal John Dew and Fr David Kennerley, Provincial of the Society of Mary arrived to bless and officially open our new premises.
This Centre will be a place for the people. After the plaque unveiling, Challenge staff and volunteers performed a powerful and emotionally charged haka composed by a Challenge staff member.
Commenting on the new premises Rt. Hon Bill English said, “Often when we look at the services which work with our most vulnerable they don’t show respect, they don’t look like places where we think we are putting people who are valued. And that’s what’s changing here.”
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester also acknowledged the commitment of Challenge 2000 to the capital city. “Challenge 2000 through their values of social justice, of the notion of love works, that if we put a tender arm around our young people, support them, celebrate them, we get them on the right path”, he said.
Cardinal John Dew gave thanks for the work of Challenge 2000 as it stands up for others, teaches, encourages and supports vulnerable youth and families. He prayed that Challenge 2000 would always be a light in the darkness.
Following the formalities, young and old, past and present staff and volunteers shared a lunch at the Johnsonville Community Centre, reliving memories of Challenge 2000 and celebrating what the future now holds for Challenge 2000 and the young people of Wellington and Aotearoa New Zealand. A big thank you to those that came to celebrate the Opening and for the many different ways you contribute to the work of Challenge 2000 over the past 30 years. Love works!
Dignity, Responsibility, Justice, Love