Over five days from 15 -19 August Genazzano FCJ College, and people from all around the Melbourne Archdiocese, came together to explore the themes of this Year of Grace and celebrate the graces in our community. We contemplated the face of Christ and the meaning of ‘grace’ in prayer, social justice and popular culture.
Gracefest began with an opening Mass held on Wednesday 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption. Principal celebrant Archbishop Denis Hart celebrated the Mass with Oscar Andres Cardinal Rodriguez SDB and Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, with Mgr Greg Bennet, Fr John Salavano, Fr Paul Murray OP, priests of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and orders concelebrating.
It was a cold and rainy Melbourne night, but along with over 1700 other keen Catholics we felt warm as we prayed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The power of prayer during the mass was very strong and overwhelming. When we carried the College banner during the entrance procession we felt very proud representing the College in both a public and spiritual way. The Cathedral shone brightly aglow for the Feast of the Assumption. Cardinal Rodriguez commented in his homily that it was only fitting to start Gracefest on this feast as throughout her life Mary displayed an abundance of grace and Mary is also full of grace.
Various workshops and keynote presentations were held over the five days. They all focused on the prominent role that ‘grace’ plays within our lives and community. We particularly enjoyed the St Vincent de Paul Society workshop – Grace through Works. We listened to stories where Catholic faith is put into action. We heard how practical work promotes social justice in so many ways - among individuals, communities and developing countries.
Throughout our time at Gracefest we also had the opportunity to meet Mr Stephen Elder, the Director of the Melbourne Catholic Education Office and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez SDB, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras). He is also the President of Caritas Internationalis. Both of these people play a significant role in spreading the Catholic faith. Archbishop Rodruigez's speech on wearing 'spiritual glasses' was fantastic and I found it amusing because I wear glasses. He is such a dear gentleman and meeting him was an honour. Overall we enjoyed what was both a valuable and spiritually rewarding experience.
Photos by Mary Udovicic/Genazzano FCJ College. Copyright 2012