Paul and Hazel Heppleston come from the United Kingdom. They spent 20 years living in the Orkney Islands and have strong links with the Iona Community in Scotland. Married, with three grown-up daughters, their journeying and growth has reflected that of many people and they acknowledge how hard it is to feel really joyful all the time! During their 3-month visit to NZ they stayed with the Sisters of Compassion for a four weeks and during that time they shared their music and Celtic spirituality with young and old people, music groups, the Sisters and students, they also spent time with the guests at the Soup Kitchen and helped prepare the meals and visited the St Joseph’s Home of Compassion in Heretaunga and Alexandra Rest Homes in Newtown.

Some comments from them:

“We have been immensely grateful for all the love shown to us during our month in Island Bay. It has been life-changing in the sense that we can now no longer be the same people that left UK in August. We have worked with you, worshipped with you, made music [and bread] with you and have found a wonderfully strong bond of Christian unity – and Joy – amongst you. We cannot speak too highly of you – a group of sisters who are as unlike the traditional view of nuns as are kiwifruits to koala bears. To touch the world of Suzanne Aubert has been a real privilege and we “thank God for every remembrance of you”.

“132 Tory Street works on at least two levels. Firstly there’s the Nigel-led level of laughter, humour and that regular Monday-morning statement of ‘you’ll see me tomorrow if I don’t get a better offer’. Add to that Sr Bernadette of the ready smile, Peter of the 4a.m. start and speedy efficiency; throw in Sisters Mina, Carmel, Catherine and Margaret Mary (not literally) and you get a perfect working environment that brings out the best in bread-spreading, potato-peeling, egg-shelling, meal-serving, dishwashing, tea-pouring and bread-delivery volunteers like us.

Secondly there is the clear working out of the Sisters of Compassion commission and commitment to show a compassionate response to evident need with no questions asked. A Celtic saying begins with the lovely imagery of Christ in the face of every traveller whom we serve in any way. Whether they be stranger or known to us-

“I saw a stranger yestere’en and I put food in
the eating place and drink in the drinking place….”

Christ is in every single soup kitchen volunteer and staff member, but more importantly we were graced to see Him in the face of every guest whatever their state of dress, health or mind. It has been a real blessing to us to work amongst such a wonderful group of people.

Bless you all.

Paul and Hazel Heppleston – UK (September-October 2002)