On Sunday 23rd August in 1840 the newly arrived French settlers were led in a Mass on the foreshore of Akaroa harbour by Marist Missionaries Frs Jean-Baptist Comte and Jean Pezant. The 53 French and 9 Germans had come ashore on the 19th August. They had left France with the task of setting up a French colony in Akaroa but discovered on arrival in the Bay of Islands the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed and New Zealand was under the British flag. But it was agreed they continue south and become settlers in Akaroa.
Bishop Barry Jones DD led the Mass of Commemoration in the 150 year old St Patrick’s Church on Sunday 23rd August. Marist Provincial Fr David Kennerley sm preached to a full church. They were joined by concelebrants Fr Paul Shannahan sm PP and Fr Peter Conaghan sm who has spent his life time as a Maori Missionary. Parish chairperson Mrs Robin Jones led the social hour that followed the Mass noting with the pleasure the number Anglicans and Presbyterians who participated. The 1840 Mass was the first one to be celebrated in the South Island.