Mass for the graduate teachers of the Archdiocese at St John’s Church, East Melbourne - Thursday 23 April 2015

My dear Friends,

Often near to my office in East Melbourne I pass at the traffic lights groups of young people moving from their lectures at Australian Catholic University. I see the involvement and interest. At other times when I am visiting parishes I see a student teacher and often have a little conversation with them about how exciting it is to be actually involved with young people and to see their response.

I believe that one of the great strengths of the Church in our country and city is our Catholic education system, with the competence, personal skill and dedication of young people like yourselves, who grow into experienced teachers and educational and spiritual leaders in our parishes and communities. In Melbourne we have 331 schools in 214 parishes; we educate something like 150,000 young people.

Today’s Mass underlines our relationship with God because he is the giver of all the gifts that we have and particularly of the gifts which have been developed in your preparation to be a teacher. You are not merely showing the hope that God has given you, but you are exercising your gifts and learning as you go. Thank you for undertaking the commitment to be a teacher in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Thank you for the unique special gifts which you bring to this work. Be sure that I pray for you and I encourage you in what you do.

First, let us remember our own faith. God through your parents has loved you from all time and he invites you into a special friendship as a Catholic teacher. This means to know that God has given us everything, that coming to Catholic teaching is a special showing of his love and guidance through you for the people for whom you will care. It is important to entrust yourself to God. It is important to try and pray to him and listen to him speaking in your times of silence. It is important then to see his love shining in the eyes and hearts of the young people for whom you care. Do not be afraid to talk about your relationship with God or to try and pray with your children. This is the leadership that you are exercising and I want you to know that as you gradually develop you will become more and more confident.

Try and make some time for prayer in your life. The Mass of course is the great prayer and it is important for us to see Mass on Saturday night or Sunday as an important goal, because flowing from this contact with Jesus and God’s Word will come a great unity of purpose in what you are able to do for your young children. I always think that from prayer and from the Mass comes a greater vision and a greater strength.

Second, value and remember the professional formation which you have received and go on learning in each situation. If you make mistakes be ready to grow from them, do not be afraid of them. If there are things you need to develop, seek the opportunities to develop those gifts.

Thirdly, remember the transition from study to classroom is a wonderful opportunity for growth. I speak to my priests and I tell them that good people make good priests better. I am sure that the young people you are dealing with, their families and your colleagues will bring out anew the gifts that God has given you. Do not be afraid of those gifts. I want you to know that if you are open with God then his gifts will shine forth in you and will carry you forward forever.

So, today, I thank God for you. I look forward to meeting you as you embark on a most wonderful journey with our young people, to whom I entrust you, knowing that you will show love and care.

May Jesus live in our hearts forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,
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