MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HARTFOR THE CENTENARY OF ST PATRICK’S SCHOOL, GEELONG WEST,ON SUNDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2011 AT 2.30PM
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Sunday when we welcome the fact that the Lord is near, we seek to live in the joy that comes from his promises; a joy which is not mere human happiness, but a joy that God is near to us in our lives and his promises will be fulfilled in us.
I am delighted to be with Fr Gerard Keith, Fr Mick Fitzpatrick, your Principal Basil Flynn, your teachers and pupils and so many friends, spanning the one hundred year history of Saint Patrick’s School.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
The voice of John the Baptist inviting us to prepare a way for the Lord is the watchword of Saint Patrick’s as we celebrate one hundred years. Like the best of teachers here at Saint Patrick’s God is being patient over many, many years to see us grow into the people he has called us to be. A God who offers to comfort us and speak to our heart and to show us that the sole purpose of Saint Patrick’s school is to show that God is near, to make us turn to the Lord, as we said last Sunday, to see his kindness and to know that we will be saved.
This is the difference between joy and happiness. Joy in what we have been given by God, in leading our life under the promise of God and in knowing that unlike happiness, which passes sometimes to sadness, joy endures through all the circumstances of life because God is near to his people and he will call us home at our death on the last day. This vision of God, life, school as a preparation for life and death, reminds us that God is at the centre of every Catholic school.
This is what Saint Patrick lived and died for as the great apostle of Ireland. This is what we have inherited from him and from his countrymen a hundred years ago here at Saint Patrick’s. This is the difference between a Catholic school where God, prayer, preparation for life and our ultimate destiny are the focus of what we seek to give our children as things which will not pass away.
Dear friends, I know that the history of your hundred years, summed up as a century of perseverance, a history of achievement, is something of preparing young people for their future. The words of Saint Augustine: “Our hearts were made for you O God and they will never rest until they rest in you”, show us that the preparation for life offered in a Catholic school has its primary focus upon God, upon prayer and Sunday Mass, and upon leading children and families to being active in sharing with others the values and the skills they have received.
On your website I read of all of the wide range of items in your curriculum. The provision for sport and adventure programme, the vegetable garden, the mural and stained glass windows; all of these things God, art, sport, practical learning, prepare the life of the young believers of the future that Jesus Christ will be at the centre of all that they have and do.
I wish to thank and congratulate Mr. Flynn and the present staff of Saint Patrick’s, together with Fr Keith and Fr Fitzpatrick and others who have been part of the school’s long history. It is a story of which we can be justly proud. However, we must remember that the invitation is not merely to look at the past, but rather to see the past and the present as constructing a wonderful future, of which every one of us here can be part; pupils, teachers, parents, grandparents.
A future which is summed up in the wonderful words of Saint Patrick: “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” God bless Saint Patrick’s and congratulations as we move into the second hundred years.
+ Denis J. Hart,ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.