Archbishop's Homilies 2007

Mass for the Golden Jubilee of Sacred Heart Girls College

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Thursday, 31st May at 7.30am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady’s Visitation to her cousin Saint Elizabeth and are inspired by the charism of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions and their love of Jesus and Mary, I welcome you to Saint Patrick’s for this Golden Jubilee Mass.

Fifty years is a time of wonderful thanksgiving and we are united with your Principal, Mr. Chris Dalton, Sister Catherine Brabender, the Province Leader of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions who founded the College, and so many friends, as we thank God for his blessings over these fifty years and renew our commitment to the education of young women.

That we may live in the light of the Gospel, let us call to mind our sins.


“Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed for the Almighty has done great things to me.” (Luke 1:48-49)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words taken from the Gospel, as Mary’s response to the acknowledgement by Elizabeth of her special role in the story of salvation, illustrate the motives of thanksgiving and purpose for the future, which are at the very heart of Sacred Heart College.

Your College Motto, “Semper Superne Nitens – Always Striving Upward”, is a reminder that God has given so much to this College, to its staff and young people, that we are invited in return to give of our best to family, to furthering our education and to the society in which we live.  All of this because, as Mary says, the Almighty has done great things for me and because it is the Lord Jesus who loved us first and has invited us into the circle of love coming from his heart. 

It is fitting today that we are one with Father John Quinn, the Chairman of Canonical Administrators, Mr. Chris Dalton, your Principal, and Sister Catherine Brabender, the Province Leader of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.

Discussions about the College had ensued from 1953 and with the purchase of a small site in 1955 from Sacred Heart Parish, Oakleigh, the College opened as a reality in February 1957 with 95 students from Years 7 to 10.  The Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions are working today in twenty-one countries and have done so gradually since their foundation in 1861 in Lyons, France.  They specialise mostly in educating and training young women and their pioneering role in education here is something which the Archdiocese will never forget. 

The charism of Mother Euphrasie Barbier shows deep love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and affection for his Mother, Mary, in this work of education.  The motto, “Always Striving Upwards”, leads towards the twin goals of virtue and knowledge. 

It was Archbishop Mannix who turned the first sod at the College in 1955 and laid the foundation stone dedicating the building to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The architects, Grounds, Romberg and Boyd, were notable because Roy Grounds later went on to design the Victorian Arts Centre in 1959 and Robin Boyd was a member of the prominent family of artists and writers.

Despite the restrictions of site, Sacred Heart has gradually expanded.  During the 70s relocatable classrooms were added and for four years Year 12 students joined classes at Salesian College, Chadstone.  From 1979 until a fire in 1982 destroyed the property, a junior campus was set up at Chadstone with the completion of new classrooms.  In 1983, all students were reunited at Oakleigh.  There was further expansion and in 1999 a sixth stream was introduced swelling the body of students to 900.  A master plan developed in 1998 and a whole school review in 1999 has meant that greatly expanded physical facilities have been accompanied by strengthening of the curriculum to educate over 1,000 young people.

The purpose of Catholic education primarily is to prepare young people for life with a love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, a faith which is the faith of the Church, both intellectually accepted and strongly practised, and the acceptance of a mission which invites excellence in all of the areas of study – academic, sporting, artistic, collaboration in promoting the ideals of the school, the twin goals of virtue and knowledge, so that as young women the service they will render to society will be identical with and exemplifying the faith of the Church.

Jesus Christ has loved us first and in the words of his Mother, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.”  (Luke 1:46)  Knowing and living the faith of the Church which comes from Jesus Christ is the essence of all that is done in Sacred Heart.  As his love and gifts were perfect, so we strive for the higher virtues – “because the Lord is in our midst we have no more to fear”.  (Zephaniah 3:15)

As with full hearts and memories of education, friendships, gifted teachers, the strong Catholic atmosphere of Sacred Heart, we go into the future to offer the consequences of calling Mary Blessed because we too have received so much.  The Almighty has done great things to us through the work of our teachers and leaders, through our friends in schooldays, and he invites us to witness to him in the life of everyday and in our chosen career.  What we have received at Sacred Heart from the Sisters, the teachers and so many others is indeed the knowledge that Jesus, who loved us first, invites our giftedness and thanksgiving in response, as we too pray Mary’s song of thanksgiving for all that the Lord has given us.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.