MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE SCHOOL PRINCIPALS’ MASS AND DINNER AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL MELBOURNE ON TUESDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2009 AT 5 P.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tonight we gather on the feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, who In her short life was exemplary in her charity to the poor and in her readiness to see Christ present and suffering in those to whom she ministered.
As we thank God for the work of another year and place our important task of education under the gentle care of the Spirit of God, let us remember that we are but servants called to a wonderful participation in designs of Christ that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel we have just read speaks of the practical charity which distinguishes the followers of Jesus Christ meeting whatever they need. Our particular task as Principals and Catholic leaders is to have a vital part in the mission of the Church.
In this Mass I join you in thanking God for the achievements of the past year and I encourage you to be generous and constant in the engagement that you undertake with our young people to form them to the mind of Jesus Christ.
More than thirty years ago Pope Paul VI spoke of the need to attract people to the Gospel in a way that will touch and challenge their lives. In 1983 in his Encyclical Letter, “Mission of the Redeemer”, Pope John Paul II said these words: “The moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a New Evangelisation and to the mission to all people. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”
In the midst of our many educational demands, of the burdens of administration, the caring social work that you do with families who are needing special attention and help, this encouraging people to encounter the Gospel has to be the very basis of all that we do.
The Church exists and we as leaders exist in order to draw people to know and love the Gospel. Let me put to you six things.
1. This evangelisation is Christocentric.
2. It is the responsibility of the entire people of God.
3. It is not just for the foreign missions.
4. It is directed to individuals and whole cultures.
5. It is not limited to the presentation of the basic Gospel message, but is a comprehensive process of Christianisation.
6. It calls for a missionary spirituality.
The most essential characteristic is that our desire to share the Gospel comes from our own deep personal encounter with Christ. Pope John Paul says: “Evangelisation will always contain a clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ salvation is offered to all as a gift of God’s grace and mercy. The New Evangelisation is not a matter of merely passing on doctrine, but rather of a personal and profound meeting with the Saviour. All of us are involved in that and the example that we give is vital.”
Pope John Paul speaks of three situations:
1. Of those who have never heard of Jesus Christ.
2. Of strong Christian communities which need sustenance and building up, and
3. Of Christian communities where many adults and adolescents have drifted away from the Gospel.
The challenges that are very clear in our Diocese are that people need their faith to be renewed and enlivened. Others have had little or no training in the Christian faith and need to be given the basic Gospel and to receive formation in faith.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for all of us is that we have a deep personal experience of Jesus Christ and undergo a personal conversion to him. Because of this we see the Gospel as Good News and we seek to share it with othe