The Final Word
One of the joys of my ministry as Archbishop is visiting our parishes. It is always so consoling to be reminded of how central parishes are to the flourishing of faith, community and mission for our lives.
Of course, we older Catholics who been around for a while very much understand our debt to the parish in our lives. We have been deeply formed by the nurturing experiences of our early years—when in the parish we were initiated into the Sacraments and the family of God.
In a place as big as Melbourne, of course, parishes vary in all
sorts of ways. But we are certainly not Congregationalists! It is
true for us Catholics there is no ‘one’ model. However, the life
of a Catholic parish should be a blend of what is foundational
and universal in the Church, with what is custom and the particular
expression of a particular people in a particular place at
a particular time.
Given the mobility of our age and the dominant belief in
individual choice, we need to be especially aware of the
temptation of parishes to simply gather people of ‘like-mind’.
We Catholics are a diverse lot and this has been true since the
birth of the Church at Pentecost. I rejoice when I see the great
diversity of our multicultural parishes and the wonderful gifts
so many groups bring when they come together in unity at the
celebration of the Sunday Mass.
Can I again encourage our Melbourne Archdiocesan parish
communities, whether in the west, north, south or east,
to especially foster a deep sense of prayer in the celebration
of the sacrifice of the Mass?
And let’s not forget the value of prayer and adoration before the
Blessed Sacrament which can only build up and strengthen our
wonderful parishes. It gives us ‘sinners’ the energy to go out and
serve the poor and all those in need of the mercy of God in our
The late Cardinal Hume OSB was so right when he wrote
shortly before his death that: ‘We need in the Church today
to recapture our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in our
parishes. It is a wonderful practice just to sit or kneel in the
presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and in a marvellous way
a kind of “presence” begins to reveal itself to us—just being
in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, mind open, heart
open, trying to experience something which is unique and which
lies beyond our capacity to explain or understand. It requires us
to admit our own deficiencies and limitations, to be able to say
in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament: “I do
believe. Help thou my unbelief.” It does work.’
Parish the thought. Where would we be without them in the
life of the Church? Yes, thank God for the parishes of our
Archdiocese of Melbourne!