Homilies

Mass for 40th anniversary of the victorian catholic secondary principals association

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORIAN CATHOLIC SECONDARY PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON FRIDAY, 13TH SEPTEMBER 2013 AT 5.30 P.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Today’s forty year celebration is a particular moment of significance as we reflect not only on the great transition which has taken place in our secondary colleges in that time, but also in the development and use of gifts which it indicates.
 
At the beginning of your Association it would be quite clear that the majority of the leadership were priests or religious, who have immeasurably enriched our educational scene and who gradually have handed on the baton to gifted lay people.
 
I am deeply grateful as Archbishop and as Metropolitan of the State of Victoria to each of you for the tremendous investment of your talent and time and goodness, which has brought you to be Principal of a secondary college.  Your work above all is a sharing in the mission of the Catholic Church to bring the truth of Christ to all, to inspire your young people to respond to the love of Christ, to live within the Church and to develop and hone their talents so that they offer their gifts in service for society in a way that our society is enriched, is brought to its foundation on Christian principles and is inspired to respect and develop the dignity of each human person.
 
Tonight, and indeed when I gather with the Principals of the Archdiocese at the end of the year, I am tremendously proud of the leadership which you show.  A Principal of a school is a gifted educational leader.  He or she is a sharer in the mission of the Church and a visionary who can inspire young people who are loved and respected with their various abilities to develop those abilities and go forward confidently in society. 
 
Apart from your obvious professional competence, a great inspiration to me is the experience of being married people and dealing with your own children, which you then bring to your career as a Principal.  Others who are not married will have other important gifts which they will bring.
 
In this particular time when it is quite possible for us to be overwhelmed by the regularity demands of government, the challenges of funding and management, the ever-increasing demands made upon us in professional training and behaviour and the aggressive legal framework which sometimes impacts on us to become cast down or simply fighting a war in which we are determined to do our very best.
 
The basis, however, of our role as Catholic secondary leaders is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Along with and giving life to our professional competence, our personal faith, our practise of it, our prayer and our leadership as a Christian and Catholic leader has to be at the very centre of all that we do.  We must be unashamed to speak of our faith, warm in our leadership of prayer and ready amid the many demands of daily life to show the reason for the real hope which exists in us and in our life. 
 
It is so important, therefore, that it is our faith that gives nourishment and light to all that we do and that we see our particular college in its proper relationships with the families for whom we care, with the parishes in which we are located and with the Church of which we are part.  I mention these three relationships because amid the many demands it can be easy, particularly when things are going well, to create a paradigm whereby the life of your college is something independent of all other influences.  Yet as Catholic secondary colleges we have to draw life from and contribute to our parishes and for this reason I do encourage you to find ways of strengthening the links between your relevant parishes as well as your school families.
 
 Your schools too are part of a diocese.  You can help us very much by providing that vision of being part of parish and diocese to help your young people to see that they are not merely part of a particular family, a particular school community or parish or country, but that in the vision of the Church the basic unit is in fact the diocese. 
 
To be Catholic means we have a broad faith that is unified, geared to holiness, linked to all people of every race and nation and culture (and this has questions for the cultural integration within our college) and apostolic, both a faith that comes from the apostles is unified with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and with all people of all times who have professed the knowledge and love of God that we have received.
 
The relationship of secondary colleges, be they run by religious orders or by a group of canonical administrators, with the diocese and its parishes is critical lest we be seen as an island and present a limited vision.
 
I want to thank you for your work with me and with your respective bishops in keeping that broader focus and keeping your policies and activities and teachings and vision in line with that of the Universal Church and of your respective bishops.  Your ability to be one with us, the standards of education which you ensure, the vision which you provide when one with me and my brother bishops is something which is a tremendous enrichment and a visionary contribution to the Church here in the Province of Melbourne always in union with the Universal Church. 
 
Thank you for your leadership, your vision, your collaboration and all that has happened in this tremendous shift of leadership from religious to lay and the collaboration which you have given to the bishops, to me and to so many others.
 
I am in high admiration of all that you are doing.  Keep your hope firm, offer it to others, keep your vision clear and Catholic and the Lord will give you the courage and grace to carry things forward.  May Jesus live in your hearts forever.
 
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE
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