Strong Jewish themes at Catholic convention

April 13, 2015 by Keren Cook
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The 22nd Eucharistic Convention held in Auckland has featured strong Jewish themes. 

Bob and Freda Narev

Bob and Freda Narev


This event is the largest lay-organised Catholic event in New Zealand, attracting up to 30,000 people and is held with Episcopal approval.

The weekend convention showcased a variety of dynamic guest speakers set for the Friday-Sunday retreat,

Eucharist Communications Spokesperson Bill Moore says this isn’t the first time Jewish themes are at the fore.

In 2010, Hungarian born Holocaust survivor Magda Brown spoke and was “incredible and well-loved by convention goers,” says Moore. Ms Brown is a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education centre.

Mr Moore says: “We always speak about our Jewish forebears as our fathers in faith – standing on our shoulders.”

This year, the guest speakers were an interesting line up of international and local speakers – including Jewish born American Roy Schoeman whose parents survived the Holocaust.

Bob with Roy Schoeman

John Porteous and Roy Schoeman

Schoeman was a devout Jew, receiving a Jewish education and later attended Harvard Business School. Midway through his Harvard teaching career, Schoeman had several supernatural experiences that eventually resulted in his conversion to Catholicism. He has since written 2 books including a surprising best seller, The Role of Judaism in Salvation History.

Initially, Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher was to speak this year, but due to an unforeseen event she couldn’t’ make it. Auckland residents Bob and Freda Narev accepted the invitation to replace Inge, and shared their survivor stories.

Unbeknown to each other – Ms Auerbacher was in the very same concentration camp as Mr Narev. Both survived the Nazi’s Theresienstadt concentration camp as children in Czechoslovakia.

Mrs Narev shared her experience hiding on a farm for three years, “living as a Catholic.” Eventually, her sister brought her to New Zealand to begin a new life.

Mr and Mrs Narev said there were about 500 people who attended their talk on Saturday morning and were “very well received”.

The Narev’s have received a QSM (Freda) and a NZOM (Bob) for their significant contribution to the Jewish and wider community.

Convention organizer John Porteous says: “Our Christian tradition grew out of Judaism, Jesus was a Jew. So was his Mother. The connection is enormously important to us.

“But we don’t have such a strong Jewish theme this year just because of the state the world is in. Our faith is outside of time, in that regard,” says Porteous.

In 2013, Pope Frances commemorated Kristallnacht at a mass in front of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, describing the Jewish people as the “big brothers” of his Roman Catholic flock.

The convention was held at Glendowie’s Sacred Heart College Auditorium in Auckland.


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