Diocese of Broken Bay
I’m Peter Comensoli, the new Archbishop of Melbourne, and I thought I might introduce myself to you today.
Firstly, I want to say how delighted I am to be able to come among you. I feel a bit like St Paul, I suppose. St Paul, when he came to Rome, didn’t know the people of Rome, but he wrote to them and introduced himself. Well, I won’t write to you, but I’d like to just say hello to you and to assure you that you’re already in my prayers and I’m looking forward to coming among you to be your bishop and, most particularly, together we will walk the journey of faith with others.
I’ve just come from celebrating confirmations in a little school nearby here for disabled children. It was a lovely occasion—just six children were confirmed—but at this particular school it’s chaotic, it just happens, you get on with it, including running around the room trying to get a child to stay still long enough to be able to get the oil of Chrism on them. And it’s a good image, I think, of how the Holy Spirit can chase us, and to urge us on by his chasing and finding us. I hope he finds me, and I hope he finds you in our journey together over the years ahead.
I’ve got lots to learn and lots of listening to do. I don’t know Melbourne and so it’s a new experience for me entirely. But I know that I’m sure you will help me in making that journey with you and to eagerly pursuing the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I do come with a few things I suppose; most particularly I come with a love for our young people, who are such a hope and a gift in our church today. And I want to encourage them and through us also to encourage them. I have a love for families and family life and all their mixtures, so many circumstances, they are so very, very different, every family is unique and has its own particular circumstances. But I have a love of trying to bring the reality of family life to the gift of faith.
And we of course, we have all our local communities of grace; I like to call them neighbourhoods of grace. That is, our parishes and faith communities, our schools, and so many other ways in which people give expression to their faith. All of that I’m coming to learn and to immerse myself in.
Really, I think this is a journey of faith friendship with the Lord. So that journey I now want to make with you and promise that I will pray with you and be with you. I know this little video might be shown in all sorts of circumstances. So just gently, I just want to offer my sense of recognition of the pain and the wounds that many, many have experienced. You know what I’m talking about at this point, but I also want to assure you that we have, I think, a common cause to work towards healing and to build our faith communities as communities of trust and safety and care.
The Gospel, as St Paul would suggest, is a Gospel that is built on faith, hope and love. That faith, the gift of faith, is really a trust. And so I entrust myself and you to our Lord at this moment. When we have hope in our hearts, there is an encouragement that comes with that. So may I encourage you at this time to make that journey with the Holy Spirit. And, of course, over all of these is the gift of love, the greatest gift that we have. The Lord has given it to us; he’s given it to you and me. May that love that the Lord has offered, be a love of tenderness in our lives, in the realities of our lives. So ‘trust’, ‘encouragement’ and ‘tenderness’—may these be three words that we together might be able to share as I come to Melbourne.
One last thing, I think I need a footy team. I’m a northerner; I’m afraid I don’t know this marvellous mystery of AFL, so you are going to have to help me on this one folks! But I’m looking forward to getting in there, getting myself into a Melbourne way and together bringing Christ to our people. See you soon.