Mass celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at Saint Philip’s Church, Blackburn North

Friday, 1st April 2016

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Philip’s,

On this Friday in the Easter Octave I rejoice at coming to celebrate with you the foundation of Saint Philip’s Parish on this day fifty years ago.

Because Christ is risen our life has changed. Saint Philip’s has witnessed in school and parish to the risen life of Christ offered to people to reshape their lives for fifty years.

With wonder and thanks to God we offer this Mass, rejoicing in the victory of Christ over sin and evil and committing ourselves to the proclamation and living of his Gospel in the future.

“By what power and by whose name have you men done this?”
(Acts 4:7)

As we look back on the inauguration of our parish fifty years ago and its ongoing mission with the help of successive pastors, including the loved Father Frank Arnold and now Father Nicholas Dillon, we are challenged to see that a parish, its school, its parishioners, its living of the Christian life, is an exercise in the mission which Jesus gave to the Apostles.

When we are asked by non-believers, ‘by what power and by whose name do we proclaim the doctrine of the resurrection’, we acknowledge that Jesus is the centre of our life and of everything we do in the parish. He indeed is the stone that was rejected by the Jews, the builder, but became the cornerstone of our faith through his passion, death and resurrection.

Each Easter is a step nearer to our final destiny, each Sunday is a little Easter, reminding us of the power of Jesus in human lives. We can marvel at the work of the Lord in our parish and school, just as we remember that all time is under Christ’s power, made by the Lord to fill us with joy and hope.

The Gospel story where Jesus reassures the disciples and enables them to catch so many fish is a reminder of the power of Jesus in our human lives and of the challenge given to the parish. Is everything we do speaking clearly of Jesus? Are we allowing him to change our lives? Do we offer our lives to him?

The challenge for the school, of course, is that in preparation for life the preeminent thing that young people learn and live is Jesus. Like the Apostles we as teachers and leaders have to lead our young people to say it is the Lord, to recognise that with Jesus leading our life nothing else matters because he has the answer. As Jesus showed himself to his disciples on the shore, so tonight in the marvel of the Eucharist he shows himself to us to nourish us on our journey.

We will look back with thanksgiving, but unless we take the challenge and invitation and gift which he gives us, then what we do will not be yet the fulfilment of our recognition that it is the Lord. Let us ask ourselves, who is Jesus Christ to us, what will he achieve, how will he lead us?

Congratulations Saint Philip’s. May the living and announcing of Jesus Christ be your watchword more and more strongly every day.

+ Denis J. Hart,
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