Fourth Sunday of Lent

Fourth Sunday of Lent

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 22 MARCH 2009 AT 11AM. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today’s Gospel shows the hesitancy of Nicodemus to making the leap of faith which opens himself to the gift of God. It is the Son of God raised up on a cross which enables us to discover what he came to reveal – God’s love for the world of which the cross is the most vivid sign. Let us call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for his merciful forgiveness. HOMILY Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Readings we have just read give a...

Blessing and Extensions to St Finbar's School, Brighton



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with Father Lou Heriot, Mrs. Grace Beech, your Principal, the builder and architect and so many friends as we celebrate the Opening of the renovations to Saint Finbar’s Church, East Brighton.

This has been a monumental project, which has brought new and upgraded facilities to the people of Brighton, who have a clear vision of the importance of Christian education and of high standards in preparing their young people for life.

Especially in this area it is most important that our facilities be well-equipped and that our Principal and teachers be imbued with the highest standards of Christian faith and of commitment to the Gospel as the primary part of Christian preparation for life.  This vision needs to resound through teaching in all the other subjects so that our young people, as they grow to be adults, will be ready and enthusiastic to add as a service to the community the particularly Christian and family vision which is so important for the modern world.  Because our school provides an insight of the fullness of faith and life, let us proceed to the blessing by listening to the Word of God.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The work at Saint Finbar’s indicates how the skyline has changed as you come along the Nepean Highway.  I am very pleased that with Father Heriot you have constructed new facilities for your school because, although parents have the responsibility of being the first and best teachers of their children in the ways of faith, the teachers and staff members act in the place of parents when young people come to school, so that a truly Catholic school is a place where young people learn of the God who holds all of our lives in his loving hand. 

With the vision which Jesus entrusted to the Church, young people are prepared for life in the community by developing a lasting, permanent vision of truth and by being guided to integrate the secular subjects which they study so that we produce faith-filled young people, excited and ready to take their place in the community and to remember the injunction of Saint Peter:  “Show to the world the reason for the hope that is in you.”

It is highly significant that Saint Finbar was the Bishop of Cork in Ireland, a man of prayer and learning, a fitting patron for those who study at this school.  His name is a reminder of the Irish heritage which has founded and nurtured Catholicism, especially here in Melbourne. 

Together with parents, the teachers here at Saint Finbar’s, your parish priest, Father Heriot, and all of the parish community are wanting to provide the same facilities and to look at the exciting possibility that we as Catholics have of being nourished by God’s love through prayer, of sometimes feeling challenged to worship regularly with the parish community on Sundays, always so that we will know that our God is near and he has a personal love of each one of us.  It is this love, this broad-based preparation and respect for each other and the dignity of the human person that we inculcate here at Saint Finbar’s.

As Archbishop I would like to pay particular tribute to all who have worked so hard with Father Heriot to make this school a reality.  With all the new facilities I am so pleased that you are here looking forward to the future.  I would ask you as families to remember that the effectiveness of Saint Finbar’s will be as strong or weak as you are committed to the great possibilities of faith, life and love, which are nurtured here. 

It is most important for every parent and every child to realise that your contribution is valuable and, although your time is precious, what you can give to the school will be repaid one hundredfold i

Mass for the 50th anniversary of St Joseph's Church, West Brunswick



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to join my friends at Saint Joseph’s as we thank God for the fifty years of completion of our new church here at Saint Joseph’s.  Jesus challenges Nicodemus in the Gospel today to open his heart in faith to the gift of God.

We thank God for the many times he has come to meet us as his people in this church and we praise him for his constant nearness to the people of West Brunswick.  Unlike Nicodemus we go forward with firm faith and trust in his ability to make us new, as we call to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus has promised us that when the Son of Man was lifted up he would draw all people to himself.  We know through the work of our parish church that God has loved us so much that all who believe in him are offered eternal life.  For fifty years in this church people have been offered the meetings with Christ in the Mass and the Sacraments which not only offer but pledge eternal life.

As we thank God together for this great gift, let us remember his constant forgiveness and his constant invitation to belief and entrusting ourselves to Jesus.  Nicodemus was hesitant.  The Jews in the Old Testament were fickle.  We come with new faith because Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.

Our patron, Saint Joseph, whose feast we celebrated on Thursday was the guardian of the Holy Family.  He did not doubt God’s power to be betrothed to Mary, to accompany her to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus and back to his home, to protect them in the flight to Egypt, and now I am certain that he protects the people of Saint Joseph’s with the same loving care that he provided for Jesus and Mary.

The history of Saint Joseph’s is a proud one since its establishment in 1913.  The first baptism recorded in the register is 23rd March 1913.  Archbishop Carr laid the foundation stone of the presbytery on 13th September 1913 and Archbishop Mannix laid the foundation stone of the old church on 9th November, 1918.

Work on the first section of the new church (the sanctuary, sacristies and transepts and nave as far as half way) was begun in September 1949.  After this section was completed the smaller first church was demolished so that the existing church could be extended to its present dimensions.  The church was blessed by Bishop Arthur Fox on Palm Sunday, 22nd March 1959.  The altar facing the people, together with the two side altars and the tabernacle, were constructed in late 1967.  The organ, which is now in the church at Keilor Downs, was installed at the same time in 1967.

Bishop Joseph O’Connell consecrated the church on 31st October 1991, consecrating the main altar and the two side altars and enclosing in it the relics of Saint Valerius, martyr, Saint Francis Borgia, religious, and Saint Pius X, pope.

I have long come to admire the simplicity, spaciousness and beautiful sanctuary of Saint Joseph’s and I enjoyed the time that I spent here with you.  In the words of Father John McDonnell: “This building was a most worthy house of prayer and temple of worship, a home in which God’s people are nourished by Word and Sacraments.”

This Mass of Thanksgiving is a tremendously encouraging moment, when we reach out to our God asking that his protection and light will be with us, with our present parish priest, Father Pat Harvey, and will bless and strengthen the wonderful goodness of the people of Saint Joseph’s.  You are renowned for love and constancy of faith.

May the Lord, whom Saint Joseph protected so ably in his earthly life, guide you on your earthly journey to the day when we will be reunited in the kingdom of heaven.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbo

Consecration of St Joseph's Church and Altar, Chelsea



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I know you have suffered much since the burning of your church.  I am deeply grateful to Father Pritchard and to all of you for the work of renewal which has taken place here, as I proceed to bless water and to consecrate your church.

May the Lord in whose presence we are guide us now and always.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We were all horrified to hear of the burning of Saint Joseph’s Church.  Your parish, which has existed since 1951, and your church which has gone through a number of permutations, is now ready to be consecrated as the house of God and the gate of heaven.  My prayer is that it will be a place always of silence and worship, of constant personal, vocal and communal prayer, set apart for the worship of God, a place of awe and wonder for all who enter here.

This church of Saint Joseph is set apart as a place of wonder.  The dedication indicates that it is permanently endowed with beauty and skill, renewed and prepared for this permanent celebration.  It will be a constant and beautiful reminder of the presence and love of God among his people.

Already remarkable faith has been dedicated to the diversity and energy of this community, nourished by successive parish priests up to the present care of Father Pritchard, and is something for which we thank God.

Vocations to priesthood and to the religious life have come from this community for the service of the Church.  Truly it can be said that this church is the house of God and the gate of heaven, the place where God is worshipped, his Word is preached, his Sacraments ministered, and where God’s holy people can humbly come to worship him, united with the prayers of our Blessed Mother, Mary, and of the saints.


Already we have sprinkled the people and the church with holy water.  Each of us is a temple of God and immediately after this homily we will profess our faith and call upon the saints.  This reminds us that the Church is people.

We gather in this church under our parish priest, Father Pritchard, and we thank God for what has been achieved in the construction and renewal of this church, bringing it to the point of consecration.  I ask you to watch carefully during the Consecration Ceremony because it spells out that this church is “filled with the presence of the Lord, who will extend his hand to all who call upon him.”  (The Opening Prayer) 

After the Litany we will pray, “May this building be a house of salvation and grace where Christians gathered in fellowship may worship you in spirit and truth and grow together in love.”

Relics of the saints are placed in the altar because it is in the united tradition of love and service of God shown by the saints that we are called to follow.

The long Prayer of Consecration reminds us that God is “source of holiness and true purpose”, as we dedicate this church to his service.  The Church, the people of God, are meant to be the instrument of holiness; from the tree of the cross to be the instrument of grace, to be the place where God lives on earth, to be a light to the whole world.

We ask the Lord, “Send your Spirit from heaven to make this church an ever holy place.”  It is through coming to Baptism that we become members, through gathering at the altar that we are fed at the table of Christ’s Word and his Body, through prayer God is begged for the world’s salvation and peace is given.

The anointing of the altar and the walls of the church with the Oil of Chrism used in our Confirmation are reminders that just as we are God’s holy people, so this place i

Mass at St Jospeh's Home, Northcote



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to be with Sister Lucy, the Sisters, the residents and the carers of Saint Joseph’s Home as we celebrate our patronal feast.

Although I am unable to stay with you for lunch because I had invited priests to the presbytery before your invitation came, I am pleased to offer the Mass of Saint Joseph that he may care for you in the same way that he cared for the Holy Family.  He is the patron of the Holy Family, the carer of the Church.  His death, which occurred before the passion of Jesus, is a reminder of how to live close to Jesus and Mary.

As we call to mind our sins, let us resolve to be generous in our following and trusting in all that we do.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

You are all aware of the picture of Joseph the carpenter having Jesus assist him in the carpenter’s shop and showing the model of a parent and father who worked for his living and was generous in use of his gifts.

In the Gospels we know that Joseph was warned by an angel not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  He accompanies her to Bethlehem where she gives birth to Jesus.  Joseph was present at the visit of the shepherds, at the circumcision of the Lord, and the angel commanded him to take Mary home.  It was Joseph who named the Lord, Jesus, and assumed legal paternity.

We see the vision of Joseph taking Mary and Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and the recognition of Simeon, which we sing every night in the night prayer of the Church, a reminder that at the end of our life we are in the providence of God.  We pray: “Now Lord you dismiss your servant in peace according to your will, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you revealed for all the nations to see, a light of revelation to the gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.”  Simeon and Anna had lived full lives of desire to see the Messiah and it was when Joseph brought Jesus and Mary to the temple that their desire was fulfilled.

So too we here have lived the fullness of life and the light of revelation for us is the knowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.  This is the same Jesus for whom Joseph cared with consummate skill and love and although he did not live to see Jesus die and rise again, his gift of himself in the ordinary things of life is our watchword.

We are most grateful for all that the Sisters and the staff do for us.  We are most grateful for the friendship with each other and for the peace and prayerfulness which inhabits this beautiful place because of the powerful intercession of Saint Joseph, the constant love of the Sisters and carers and the sharing of life that we have with each other.  Truly Jesus is a light of revelation to us and the glory of his people.

Today we thank God for Saint Joseph.  May his care be the watchword of everything we say and do for each other in this place, as I offer Mass for all of you on this beautiful feast.  Joseph’s protection during the flight into Egypt reminds us that we can pray to him in any situation of need and know his patronage and care throughout life’s journey, trusting that at its ending Jesus and Mary will be with us as they were with Joseph.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.