Church leader snuffs out apparition claims

By Mike Dinsdale

Religious devotees need not flock to Kaikohe to see an image of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus in the town's Christmas lights - the Marian apparition doesn't exist, the head of the Catholic Church in the town says.

Earlier this week Pastor Mike Shaw, from the heart of the North Celebration Centre in Kaikohe, claimed that he and others saw an apparition - an image of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus - when the lights on the town's giant Christmas tree were switched on last Saturday.

"After we switched the lights on somebody came up and said they could see what looked like an image of the Madonna and Child in the lights. Everybody else who looked from the same spot agreed that it did look like the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus."

He said from a certain angle an image of a mother and child was clearly seen in the community Christmas tree lights and he suggested it may become an attraction for people, at least until the lights are removed after Christmas.

But Father Kerry Prendeville, from the Mid-north Catholic Church, said it definitely was not a Marian apparition, but he could understand why some people might think there was.

Father Prendeville said he had been to look at the lights from several different angles and he could not see what others purported to see in the lights.

"With a bit of imagination and a very devout background I can see that for some there may be an image there, but it's certainly not an apparition from my perspective and it's a misuse of the word to call it such," he said.

"I think it might be a case of people wanting to see something there. If your religious DNA is programmed that way you will see marvellous things in the the sky or clouds. It's just that this is not what others are saying it is."

Father Prendeville said he couldn't see devotees flocking to Kaikohe to see if they could see the image in the lights. "I'd really like to help Kaikohe, but I wouldn't go that far [by declaring a Marian apparition]. It's got to be realistic and an image that people can see, but when you turn the lights off there's nothing there. And lights can conjure up all types of images, if you want them to."

- Northern Advocate

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