Media and Communications Office
At Villa Maria Catholic Homes aged care residence St Catherine’s, in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn, Melbourne auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards and Fr Joe Caddy, the episcopal vicar for social services, joined residents and invited guests alike for a liturgy, followed by Fr Joe Caddy’s official launch of ‘A place at the table: social justice in an ageing society’, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice statement for 2016-17.
Michelle Willison from St Catherine’s Aged Care welcomed Bishop Edwards and Fr Caddy, while Mark Clarke from the Melbourne Office for Justice and Peace conveyed the official greeting and the acknowledgement of country.
Joining the hymns and liturgy, six children from nearby St Bridget’s Primary School, Alessandra, Victoria, Chloe, Mia, Logan and Mitchell, read the Prayers of the Faithful.
St Catherine’s residents Des Dyson (father of 11) and Patricia Barrett were selected to present the readings and responsorial psalms.
Bishop Mark Edwards, after the gospel reading from Luke, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, highlighted the necessity for an all-embracing, non-discriminatory life of service to others, particularly the elderly, pointing to the newly canonised Mother Teresa as the perfect example of Christ’s love in action.
Following the liturgy, it was Fr Joe Caddy’s turn to highlight the anomalies in our society, as he launched the Bishops’ Social Justice statement, a statement which, he said, ‘celebrates the value, dignity and significant contributions of older people to the community.’
Fr Joe pointed out that older people have a rightful place in the heart of community life, and pointedly referred to the throwaway culture of today, which seems, he said, only to value people for what they produce and contribute economically.
In a society in which older people are being asked to work well beyond the traditional retirement age,’ said Fr Joe, ‘Australia’s bishops are calling for the benefits of work to be shared equitably.
‘The Bishops urge communities of mercy and love, where people reach out and minister to vulnerable older people, where bonds are built up, and where no one is cast as being a burden or as rivals to younger generations,’ concluded Father Caddy.
Villa Maria Catholic Homes Board Chairman Bill Scales says the justice statement contains some important messages.
‘It's a timely message, it's an important message and I'm so pleased that it happened here at St Catherine's,’ Mr Scales said after the launch.
‘It's critically important that we understand that everybody in society has a role to play, everybody has a dignified life to lead and what the church is reminding everybody, both those in the secular community as well in the religions community is about the human dignity of people as they're ageing.’
VMCH Acting CEO Michael Dillon has also applauded the Bishops’ decision to highlight older Australians in this year’s statement.
‘We welcome the Bishops’ emphasis on older people, and the statement’s recognition of the increasing aged population, the role they have to play in Australian life either through employment or engagement at a community level and the need to support them during hardship,’ he said.
Read the Bishops' statement in full