Archbishop's Homilies 2010

Mass of Closure St Joseph's College Melbourne



Dear Christian Brothers, Teachers and Alumni, and present Students of Saint Joseph’s College, Melbourne.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, who was totally preserved free from sin to fulfil her mission for God from the first moment of her conception.

Her dedication and openness to God throws light on the noble objectives that have always existed in Saint Joseph’s College, Melbourne, as we come to thank God for all that has been achieved through this historic and wonderful College.

Tonight we remember a distinguished educator, Brother Camillus Naughton who died today.   

As Archbishop I am privileged to be with you as we begin this Mass asking that in our future service we may be free from sin and dedicated always to the Lord as Mary was, faithful and generous in our witness in society.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel we have just read highlights the total consecration of Our Lady to the mission given her by God.  She was assured ‘the Lord is with you’; ‘do not be afraid’, ‘you are to conceive and bear a Son’, and ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you’.  This mission spoken by the divine messenger was to bring this world its Saviour.

Since 1903 Christian Brothers’ College, North Melbourne, which in 2000 became Saint Joseph’s College, Melbourne, has had a similar mission to announce the Saviour and to prepare young men of Catholic faith to take their place in society.

The publications of Saint Joseph’s College, North Melbourne, are given the title ‘Cynosura’, a star near the North Pole, which on account of its constant position in the heavens is a guiding star for travellers to which they instinctively turn.  The use of this name in publications and in drawing attention to Saint Joseph’s College is intended that all who have passed through this College in 107 years should see the education that they have received as a reference point for the rest of their life. 

Mary did not reject the message of the angel; so too the alumni of Saint Joseph’s College are encouraged to see the parallel between the invitation given to Mary to bring the Saviour, and the preparation of her mind and heart and body for that mission; and the inspiration given to them to live the faith that has been entrusted to them.

Over the last 107 years much sacrifice has been involved in establishing and sustaining this school, in often difficult economic times and without funding.  Huge efforts were made by parents to send their sons to North Melbourne.  The trust shown has been richly rewarded by the magnificent work of the Christian Brothers and their collaborators in providing the gifted education for which Saint Joseph’s is known.      The College is owned by the Christian Brothers and the closure, of which I was informed, was their decision in order to address different circumstances of modern society.
In his 2000 publication ‘The Spirit of North’ my friend, Brother Ron Stewart has spoken eloquently of the history of Saint Joseph’s North Melbourne and Pascoe Vale.  My prayer is that what he has written will be a much more eloquent testimony to the dynamic which has operated in Saint Joseph’s over all these years.

By 2nd July 1901 the Provincial, Brother Mullen, had agreed to provide a community of three Brothers, to be increased to a group of four.  The conditions in the original foundation were certainly challenging, as Brother Hogan wrote to the Provincial, Brother Treacy, in Ireland.  “Now as regards Saint Mary’s we are teaching in the old church, where Larry Egan taught.  The aisles are partitioned off, one aisle forming the junior room where Brother Baptist Le Breton had 130 youngsters.  The other aisle is divided into two rooms, one being taught by Brother Ambrose Fitzgerald and the other by your humble servant.  Brother Ambrose has 80 and I have 70.  We have two assistants.  The body of the old church is used for meetings, concerts, etc.  The playground is very small and there is no chance of enlarging it.”  (The Spirit of North, p. 11)

Many of you will remember a number of the people in the story listed among captains, duxes, leaders, sport captains, cadet leaders, other past students in the priesthood, in the brothers, in public life and the magnificent support provided by parent organisations, teaching and administrative staff.  These provide a continuing narrative of young men inspired by the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, reverence for his Blessed Mother, and the care of Saint Joseph, who have been formed as exemplary Christian young men by Brothers and longstanding lay teachers.

It can be said that today is a moment of thanksgiving, highlighting so much striving and achievement with precious memories and a commitment to the full breadth of education. 

As Archbishop I commend to each of you the memories you have of Saint Joseph’s C.B.C.  I publicly thank the Brothers and the teachers and all those who work at Saint Joseph’s College, Melbourne.  To those who are present pupils who are finishing this year, as well as to all of us, I remind us that our life is not finished because our College is being devoted to other purposes.

With precious memories and esteem, with thankfulness for what we have achieved, we too are invited to go forward knowing that we can make a difference in society because of our Catholic faith, because of our unique vision of the dignity of each human person and because of our capacity to contribute to the Melbourne of our time.

May the gifts taught, developed and used here be always carried forward under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, as did Our Lady’s life from the moment of her conception because she walked with God in the mission given to her.  May each of us be faithful to the mission we have received and to the gifts that are recognised in us.

+ Denis J. Hart,