News Story

Mormons and Catholics Work Together

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church came together on Saturday [23 February 2013] to paint church buildings and spruce up a garden in the Auckland suburb of Beachhaven.

The meeting of faith groups was led by Father Ikenasio Vitaliano, fellow Catholic Mike O’Reilly, and Latter-day Saint John McLean. All three men live in Auckland, New Zealand.

Three weeks ago, Father Vitaliano, the new parish priest for the Maria Assumpta Catholic Church in Beachhaven, Auckland, asked Mike O’Reilly, a member of his congregation, to be in charge of the maintenance of the church’s buildings.

A week later, Mr. O’Reilly was looking around the outside of the church feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the maintenance task ahead of him, when he noticed a stranger approaching him in the car-park. 

That stranger was John McLean, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was searching for a project for the annual ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ community service day.  He asked if there was anything that he and his fellow Church members could do to help them.

“It was a miracle,” Mr. O’Reilly says.  Father Vitaliano approved the offer of help and Mike O’Reilly organized pre-painting preparation to be made in readiness for the Mormon Helping Hands volunteers.

The project quickly became a reality when on Saturday 23 February around 200 Latter-day Saints turned up with paintbrushes and gardening gear.  In just a few hours they painted the entire roof of the church hall and the roof and walls of a garage outbuilding. They also cleared large areas of overgrown gardens.

Father Vitaliano and Mr. O’Reilly expressed gratitude for the service rendered.  They reflected that at a Vatican meeting 50 years ago this year, the Pope had stated that Catholics and other Christians should reach out to each other.

“Mormon Helping Hands Day enables members and friends of the Church to give of their time and talents to make their communities better places in which to live,” says John McLean.  “It also helps us all, including our young people, to develop great pride in our community.”

Several similar Mormon Helping Hands activities took part in other parts of New Zealand last Saturday.  Mormon Helping Hands is a worldwide program that brings together members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their neighbours to provide community service.

The volunteers in their trademark yellow shirts help people whose lives have been affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. Mormon Helping Hands volunteers also partner with government and nonprofit organizations to support and improve the communities where they live. 


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.