Mass for Migrant Chaplains at the Croatian Catholic Church, Ardeer
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE CROATIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, ARDEER, FOR THE MIGRANT CHAPLAINS, ON TUESDAY 2 DECEMBER 2008 AT 10AM.
My dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
As we continue the work of renewal, which is Advent, we are strongly reminded that the justice, which comes from Jesus Christ, is light and love for our world.
As Archbishop, I thank each of the Chaplains to migrant communities for all that you continue to do to enrich and build up the Church in this Archdiocese and beyond. Many in older communities have many funerals and farewells. Others in newer communities are facing with their young people the challenges of secularism.
Let us remember that if we live the life of faith, then it is Christ who guides our way. Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever. Let us call to mind our sins.
My dear brothers and friends in the priesthood,
In today’s Gospel Jesus thanks God for the mission that he has given and reminds us that it is loving the Father as he the Son does, which is our challenge.
In the priesthood we have been given a singular gift of sharing in the knowledge and vision of Christ, not given to many other people. Sometimes the challenge of being a migrant chaplain is to present a Christ-like and priestly vision to people who are tremendously challenged after their arrival in a new country, the learning of a new language, the dislocation from the customs and security of home. Your priestly ministry is always exercised in a way which makes you the initial witnesses of the Church in the world of today.
I thank you for your witness, for your priestly goodness and perseverance and I want to assure you that you are valued members of this Archdiocese and the work that you do is absolutely essential.
In his address at the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on 5th October, Pope Benedict addressed in a particular way the world in which we live. He picks out the modern phenomenon that God is often declared dead and eliminated from the human horizon. He asks the question: “When man eliminates God is he really happy? Does he really become freer? When men proclaim themselves the absolute proprietors of themselves and sole masters of creation, can they truly build a society where freedom, justice and peace prevail? Doesn’t it happen, as daily news amply illustrates, that arbitrary power, selfish interests, injustice an exploitation and violence are extended? And in the end man reaches the point of finding himself lonelier and society is more divided and bewildered.”
It is in this kind of society that your ministry is conducted. The same society that in the parable of the vineyard killed the son of the owner. The same society that killed Jesus, our Redeemer. The same society that is reminded, as we are, that evil and death do not have the last word, but it is always Christ who wins in the end.
In our own reflection and prayer the Pope has reminded us that the Word of God can alone profoundly change man’s heart and we are invited to enter into an ever increasing intimacy with the Word. Indeed the Pope says that to draw nourishment from the Word of God is our first and fundamental task.
I would stress for every one of our priests that the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the pondering of the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Hours is the absolute basis of the priesthood and provides the life giving, challenging encounter with Jesus Christ, which is indispensable for the ministry which we perform.
Lastly, I would like to thank you specifically for all that you did in preparation for the World Youth Day. There was a magnificent response, particularly noticeable among the migrant communities which demonstrated the rich calibre of faith which you have and with which you enrich this Diocese. I do regret that I was ill on the Sunday of the Migrant Communities Mass because I always consider this an important celebration.
We have now with our young people to look forward to nourishing the faith and spiritual life, which has been so encouraged by being part of the huge crowds of faithful in Sydney, who walked the Way of the Cross, celebrated the Eucharist, and went on pilgrimage to find Jesus Christ. I have asked our Catholic Youth Office to be available and ready to provide three or four major events each year and assist the training of leaders so that our young people will be able to move forward in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, confident that they are not alone, responding generously as Christians in our modern society, unafraid of the challenges, strong and confident in the witness to faith.
I thank you for all that you continue to do and for the leadership that you provide. It is not a matter of one size fitting all. There are many ways and many opportunities and I encourage you to keep on walking with your young people, encouraging them, leading them to holiness and to witness to our faith in the community. It a source of great confidence to me as Archbishop that it is in the migrant communities that some of the strongest witness to faith is given. This, I believe, will challenge and eventually save our country, Australia.
As we continue this Mass with vigilance and love we show to the world the reason for the hope that we share and for the common experience of Jesus Christ given us in the gift of priesthood. May it remain with us to inspire and guide our journey.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne