60th anniversary of the Cistercian Monastery at Tarrawarra, Yarra Glen - Saturday 8 November 2014

'The seed is the Word of God, Christ is the sower.  All who come to him will live forever.' 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today after sixty years we come to rejoice in God’s providence in bringing the spiritual force of prayer, contemplation and monastic example into our Archdiocese, unique in the story of Australia.

Ten years ago I mentioned the living history of the spread of the kingdom.  From Roscrea in County Tipperary where Saint Carthage met Saint Cronan and advised him to move to Roscrea as part of the rich development from the foundation of the Cistercian Order in 1098 by Saint Robert of Molesme, to the Irish foundation of Roscrea in 1878, and in the last century to the new world.

Archbishop Mannix frequently expressed a desire going back forty years prior to 1954 to have a monastic foundation.  At the first Mass on 6th November 1954 he spoke of his dream over half a century to bring the Cistercians to Australia and may have had a little wicked enjoyment that despite Cardinal Gilroy’s going to Roscrae in June 1952 the suitable property was found here in the Archdiocese.  His Irish sense of humour would have been tickled by that.

It is indeed fortunate that after eight months searching for a suitable property in New South Wales, Father Eugene Boylan came south to Victoria.  In August 1954 Dom Camillus arrived to assist in the process and was accompanied by Father Carthage, whom we are honoured to have with us today.

Archbishop Mannix saw the value of work and prayer.  Archbishop Little at the silver jubilee spoke of how contemplation responds to the deepest yearnings of the human heart.  Humbly, I echo their sentiments and leadership that the seed sown sixty years ago is flowering and maturing.

I pay personal tribute to the example and support of the monks of Tarrawarra in my own life and also to the increasing relationship through prayer activity, retreat, teaching, spiritual direction and so many other means, which Tarrawarra has demonstrated to the religious and people of the Archdiocese.

You will all know that Pope Francis is challenging us to have a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ each day (E.G. 3), reminding us that whenever we take a step towards Jesus we come to realise that he is already waiting for us with open arms, that he never tires of forgiving us, making us experience joy as a response to the loving invitation of God; the joy which permeates Tarrawarra amid the trials of hard work and aging, amid the challenges of engaging the Word of God constantly and praying the Liturgy of the Hours as the context of the praise of God in which all creation carries out its mission.

When Saint John Paul II said to the bishops of Oceania:  'All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion', I am reminded that the mission of prayer and contemplation is the life blood of everything that we do in the Church, as the fountain from which all her power flows.

Tarrawarra has never been turned in on itself.  Various members of the community have undertaken study and monastic renewal elsewhere.  They have contributed to the spiritual life of other members of the Benedictine Union and at both national and international level have been involved in formation and writing.  Significantly too I mention the assistance given to the daughter Abbey of Kurisumala in Kerala, which has just elected its first Abbot.

Meanwhile, the ceaseless praise of the wonder of God continues here in this sacred place.  It draws people from a wide range of backgrounds to ponder and contemplate their own vocation and to draw strength for their own mission in the Church.  In the broadest possible way the seed planted by God’s grace sprouts and flourishes, nourished and sown by Christ, supported by the prayer, study, reflection and work of the community of Tarrawarra.

Melbourne is indeed fortunate to have among us the monks of this monastery.  It is a powerhouse of grace and prayer and as Archbishop I do extend a strong invitation to young men to come and look and see the contemplative life in the authentic style of the Cistercians, with which our Diocese and country have been enriched for the past sixty years.

I conclude with a prayer to the provident God that his blessings through this community will continue to redound upon the people of our country in times which are challenging and secular, but which are all the more open to the grace and power of God, begged so effectively upon us all by the community of Tarrawarra.  Ad multos annos.

+ Denis J. Hart,


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