Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to Saint John's Church East Melbourne where I, as Archbishop, recognise the gifts that you have and encourage you to use them in bringing our young people to their full potential in Jesus Christ.
I thank you for your generosity and skill and I look forward to supporting you on your journey as Catholic teachers.
I want to thank you for coming to join us in Catholic education and bringing your enthusiasm and great gifts to assist our schools. I hope that these weeks and the early part of the year have been rewarding, if not a little challenging. I am sure you will have found that the atmosphere in our schools is one of the greatest love and respect for our young people and we never cease to be inspired by the beauty of our families and of the young people who are entrusted to our care.
As Catholic teachers you share in my mission to teach the Catholic faith to our children and to prepare them for life. I hope that you will meet with the example and dedication of experienced teachers and their awareness of the richness of our Catholic faith so that you can grow in your own faith understanding and share it with others.
You have spent three years or more studying so that you will be equipped to be good and faith-filled teachers. I hope that what you have learned at University will prepare you well for the special mission which you have.
Saint Paul spoke to his followers and expressed the hope that they would be formed in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. Our Catholic faith is above all an awareness of a person. In our teaching, as in our personal life, we are invited always to conversion, to start afresh with Jesus Christ. Saint Peter even said that Catholic teaching is showing to the world the hope that is in us.
You are entrusted with the joy and responsibility of sharing your own faith and professional competence with others. It may be that this first year of teaching will be a time of special growth, along with your new responsibilities. I say this because to know and love Jesus Christ is the essence of our common sharing of a true vision of the human person, of the things that are important in life and of our destiny. It is a wonderful gift of the Catholic heritage which we have received. Catholic faith is a knowledge of a person, a following of a person in love and when we love all is transformed.
Above all, I would urge you to believe in your gifts, to not be afraid of new challenges and new things in which you can develop, of being ready to learn even more and not to think that your University course has completed your learning. Secondly, it is most important that you not be afraid to make a few mistakes and to learn from them. This is a sign of growth and we should not be petrified if others of more experience have the opportunity to point out the fruit of that experience.
As Catholic teachers you share in my mission to go and teach all nations, to bring the love, truth and message of Christ to all with whom you come into contact and to do that with your unique gifts of personality, skill and learning. This can be a wonderful area of growth as you start to pray with your pupils. This will develop your unity with God and challenge you about your relationship with him and help you to see the fundamental importance of the Eucharist as the lifeblood of the Church, both on school occasions and on Sunday with the parish community. These are absolutely vital.
Above all, I am heartened and encouraged and delighted by your presence and your openness and readiness to take on the challenge of teaching, whether it is easy or hard, whether what you are being asked to teach is new or something that you have long known. I pray that this early year of teaching may be a wonderful reward, not merely to you, but through you to your pupils. You can emphasise with them that the Archbishop as the chief teacher in all the Catholic schools in Melbourne has a deep regard for you, a wonderful gratitude for your dedication, and an admiration of the Christlike spirit which exists in your dealings with others in your school.
May Jesus Christ be with you now and always as you continue your journey with joy and hope.
+ Denis J Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE