Mass for schools to honour the Feast of Saint Patrick, in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Friday 17 March 2017

My dear young friends,

Patrick was born in Roman Britain, the son of a city councillor, who had a country farm. At sixteen Irish pirates came and sold him as a slave. For six years he had to be a shepherd, living with the sheep in wind and rain. Encouraged by a voice that he heard in his sleep, he escaped and found a ship and eventually got back to Roman Britain.

This voice and the prayer and solitude he had known changed him and he converted to Jesus. His knowledge and love of Jesus was so strong that once in a dream he heard the voice of the Irish people calling him back. He then went to France to study for the priesthood and later went back to work converting the Irish people. He took others with him; people who would build and craft churches and teach others in the faith. Everywhere he went he left a church where people knew their faith, loved God and knew Jesus Christ as Lord.

Patrick was the second bishop in Ireland and he concentrated on the north and the west. Going about there was constant danger. Some of the clergy and some of the Irish people opposed him. Yet, as an old man he wrote his confession or summary of the faith: “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, the three in one and one in three.” This is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Patrick was noted for his courage and his love of Jesus Christ. He was a man of prayer, he did not waste time, and he listened to God when he prayed.

Patrick can give us courage:-

1. To know what God wants of us and to do what is right;
2. To be faithful to prayer;
3. To be people of the truth that God has given us. Our education in Catholic schools is precisely for this that we persevere, that we pray, that we learn the truth that will prepare us for life.
4. Our obedience and respect for God, our parents and teachers, who stand in God’s place to lead and guide us. This helps us make ready for a generous life when we are “givers” for family, friends and those we meet.

Jesus chose Patrick to show people how to live. We learn from the events of every day to be obedient – not giving up – and doing our best. This is how we give ourself!

We Catholics have something special to offer our families and the people round about us. It is knowing that Jesus values each person, trusts us to try and understand them, and wants us to give them hope. Saint Patrick’s own words show us how important it is to love and follow Jesus by prayer, Sunday Mass, and by our words and deeds. He says: “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.”

May we learn and practise Patrick’s lesson – everything we do, Jesus sees – in everything we do we respond to him.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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