My dear brothers and friends in the priesthood,
In today’s Gospel Jesus thanks God for the mission that he
has given and reminds us that it is loving the Father as he the Son does, which
is our challenge.
In the priesthood we have been given a singular gift of
sharing in the knowledge and vision of Christ, not given to many other
people. Sometimes the challenge of being
a migrant chaplain is to present a Christ-like and priestly vision to people
who are tremendously challenged after their arrival in a new country, the
learning of a new language, the dislocation from the customs and security of
home. Your priestly ministry is always
exercised in a way which makes you the initial witnesses of the Church in the
world of today.
I thank you for your witness, for your priestly goodness and
perseverance and I want to assure you that you are valued members of this
Archdiocese and the work that you do is absolutely essential.
In the world in which we live it seems a modern phenomenon
that God is often declared dead and eliminated from the human horizon. When man eliminates God is he really
happy? Does he really become freer? When men proclaim themselves the absolute
proprietors of themselves and sole masters of creation, can they truly build a
society where freedom, justice and peace prevail? Doesn’t it happen, as daily news amply
illustrates, that arbitrary power, selfish interests, injustice an exploitation
and violence are extended? And in the
end man reaches the point of finding himself lonelier and society is more divided
It is in this kind of society that your ministry is
conducted. The same society that in the
parable of the vineyard killed the son of the owner. The same society that killed Jesus, our
Redeemer. The same society that is
reminded, as we are, that evil and death do not have the last word, but it is
always Christ who wins in the end.
The Word of God can alone profoundly change man’s heart and
we are invited to enter into an ever increasing intimacy with the Word. Indeed the Pope says that to draw nourishment
from the Word of God is our first and fundamental task.
I would stress for every one of our priests that the daily
celebration of the Eucharist, the pondering of the Word of God in the Liturgy
of the Hours is the absolute basis of the priesthood and provides the life giving,
challenging encounter with Jesus Christ, which is indispensable for the
ministry which we perform.
I thank you for all that you continue to do and for the
leadership that you provide. It is not a
matter of one size fitting all. There
are many ways and many opportunities and I encourage you to keep on walking
with your young people, encouraging them, leading them to holiness and to
witness to our faith in the community.
It a source of great confidence to me as Archbishop that it is in the
migrant communities that some of the strongest witness to faith is given. This, I believe, will challenge and
eventually save our country, Australia.
As we continue this Mass with vigilance and love we show to
the world the reason for the hope that we share and for the common experience
of Jesus Christ given us in the gift of priesthood. May it remain with us to inspire and guide
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.