JPII Institute for Marriage and Family Graduation

JPII Institute for Marriage and Family Graduation

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne on Friday, 2nd March, 2007 at 4.30pm Homily Dear Brothers and Sisters, Saint James correctly reminds us of the signal importance of confession and forgiveness in our spiritual life.  In this first week of our Lenten journey we celebrate the Graduation of the John Paul II Institute and the scripture of today is a telling reminder of the spiritual and sacramental base upon which the whole of the Institute’s formation is founded. Pope John Paul rightly wanted spiritual and...

Second Sunday of Lent

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Sunday, 4th March, 2007 at 11.00am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain to strengthen them to confront his Passion.

In Lent we are invited to go through a journey onwards to destiny, glorious in its outcome, challenging and inspiring, as we move along the way.

God promises us glory and new life.  We promise God the challenge of dying to self and entering into a time of striving.

Jesus himself, our transfigured Lord, is the great promise of life and destiny.  What will be our answer?  Yes Lord, I believe, or no, I will not serve.

As we call to mind our sins, let us open our minds and hearts to the grace of Christ.


“I have a journey sir, shortly to go; my master
calls me, I must not say no.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words of the Earl of Kent uttered in the closing scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear challenge us through prayer, fasting and works of love to continue our annual little journey of Lent.  The call that Jesus receives from his Father bids him go apart from the world to prepare for the mission he is given – to suffer, to die, to rise again that we might have life.

Today’s Gospel of the Transfiguration reminds us that Jesus is light for our life.  He invites us like him to die and rise again.  He challenges us on our journey to be mindful of God, of others and of the promises God has made to us and we to him.

The French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Paschal, lived over three hundred years ago.  In the closing years of his life he spoke about his own search for faith:  “In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadow to blind those who don’t.”

In slightly humorous terms the comedienne Ellen DeGeneres said:  “In the beginning there was nothing.  God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.  There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”

The Transfiguration enabled Peter, James and John to see things a whole lot better.  They came to discover who Jesus really was and in that discovery they had come to see the light.  Lent is a time of journey, of going apart from our ordinary life and this is why I have recommended that every one of us spend some time in Lent reflecting on the Way of the Cross or reading over and again the Passion story of Jesus.

Reality then may not be the events of every day with which we crowd out the big questions.  The reality is God’s limitless love for us, the evil of personal sin in our lives and the invitation God gives us to prayer, fasting and works of love to turn back to him and, in fact, to reality; prayer, which makes us speak the words of God, fasting which distracts our attention from those things which preoccupy us – food, comfort, entertainment – and allowing God to occupy us so that we will be totally focussed on God, the Other, and on God, as seen in our brothers and sisters. 

That is why in the prayer of the Mass we pray that we will be enlightened by God’s Word, we will know the Lord as my light and my salvation, we will follow the rule of life given by Saint Paul and, above all, in our prayer, in our life, the words of the Father:  “This is my Son, the Chosen One, listen to him”, will echo in our heart.

We, who live an earthly existence, yet long for the things of heaven, know that in the lives of man

Third Sunday of Lent

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Sunday, 11th March, 2007 at 11.00am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, as we join with Father Tony Ireland, our Seminary staff and seminarians for this Mass.

We know Our Lord is kind and merciful.  He has a patience, which is unalterable and invites us to prayer, fasting and works of mercy that we will overcome our weakness.

In the great pilgrimage of Lent we are guided by a vision of Christ who gave himself and rose.  May the light of his grace and the power of repentance and forgiveness guide us as we continue on our journey calling to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There are many ways when we are invited to pay attention to what is happening around us; a clash of a teacher’s ruler on the desk or a flashing yellow light when we approach a dangerous curve, the beep of the alarm clock, the door bell, the fire alarm or a kick under the table.  They are all reminders to us to wake up to the experience that is about to happen.

On Ash Wednesday we were invited as a people to fast, pray and give alms as the means to overcoming sin. 

Today there is a contrast – the invitation to concentration, the ability to leave aside our discouragement.

Rudolph Otto in his book, The Idea of the Holy, put before us something similar to what Moses experienced in the burning bush.  He described it as:  “Mysterium tremendum et fascinans” - a mystery that generates both fear and fascination.

Moses was like that when he came to the burning bush, drawn like a magnet, and yet terrified that he was in the Divine Presence.  He hid his face and then like a child with fingers parted he wanted to see, to know God and to engage him in a conversation which would change his life forever.

In these Readings today there is an invitation to know the reality of God.  Saint Paul says something similar, quoting Moses, and God being seen in the cloud, and yet he makes the challenging comment that in spite of all God’s invitations, most of them failed to please him.

This is a warning against complacency or against false hope;  the Galileans lulled into a false sense of security who were then killed, the foolish farmer who trimmed the fig tree which did not produce any fruit. 
Saint Paul warns us lest we take our privilege of baptism for granted.  Our ancestors in the Old Testament knew the exodus and knew the invitation and vision that God held out for them and yet they did not respond.

The challenge of the Readings today is rather than criticise others and feel superior we might ask ourselves do we see as clearly as Moses did.

Lent is given to us as an undeserved grace.  We sin, we fail, we rise, we fall again.  Yet this Lent is given to us by a God who is kind and merciful, but who says to us, “Repent the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 4:17)  We do not know the time that we will have left to bear fruit.  One can be almost certain that for someone in this church this Lent may be their last.

God invites us to embrace forgiveness, to be ready to forgive others and as a result to be brought together in unity and peace.  Like the man in the Gospel, we may ask the Lord, ‘Lord, leave us one more year we may bear fruit next year’.  But will next year come for us?  Or must we go by prayer, fasting and works of love, take our fingers away from our eyes, as Moses did, and look upon the holiness and wonder of G

Sesquicententary of the Arrival of the Sisters of Mercy in Melbourne

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Sunday, 11th March, 2007 at 2.30pm


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Together with my brother bishops and priests and with many friends, we are delighted to be here with Sister Kathleen Tierney, R.S.M., and the Sisters of Mercy in Victoria, to thank God for the remarkable events of the last one hundred and fifty years.

On 6th March 1857 Mother Ursula Frayne and Sisters Anne Xavier and Mary Joseph arrived in Melbourne after midnight, to be met by the then Bishop Goold and taken to their first home.

In this moment of thanksgiving we take on our lips the words of Catherine McAuley:  “I will confide in the generous bounty and never-ceasing kindness of our beloved Saviour.”  (Catherine McAuley, Letters, p. 101)

In humble joy we thank God for his Providence, while continuing our Lenten pilgrimage, with mind and heart renewed as we call to mind our sins.


“If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you:
  give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.”
(John 4:10)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we ponder the Word of God in thanksgiving for the magnificent contribution to the Church in Victoria of the Sisters of Mercy over one hundred and fifty years, we are challenged to the deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, which is the watchword of the Sisters of Mercy.

Yet the cheerfulness of Catherine McAuley’s own life, even in adversity, is very much part of the Mercy spirit.  The cross worn by the Sisters is a reminder of the deep personal encounter with Jesus, which is their inspiration.

Catherine said in the Original Rule:

“The love and union of Religious should be founded … on God alone, because their hearts should be united in Jesus Christ, in whom and for whom they should live and mutually love each other.”  (Original Rule, Ch. 17:5)

Later she wrote:  “The life of Jesus Christ on which we are to model ours was a life of self-denial and suffering.”  And again:  “We are flourishing in the very midst of the Cross, thanks be to God.”

Melbourne is indeed fortunate in having Mother Ursula Frayne who, as the eleventh person to join the Sisters of Mercy, had experienced first-hand Catherine McAuley’s original spirit and intentions.  In fact she nursed Catherine in her last illness.  The compassion of Christ shown as educators, welfare workers, social reformers and advocates for the poor has been exercised with great skill over all these years. 
After a journey of 25,000 kilometres, taking 113 days, Ursula Frayne arrived in Perth on 8th January, 1846.  Eleven years later at the invitation of Bishop Goold, Mother Ursula and Sisters Anne Xavier and Mary Joseph arrived in Victoria on 6th March, 1857. 

In the ten years of the Gold Rush from 1851 to 1861 the Victorian population had increased from 47,345 to 540,327.  The situation was desperate.  The rich fared well; but there were thousands of people in Collingwood and South Melbourne, especially women and children, eking out an existence, who were suffering deeply from poverty and malnutrition. 

After only six weeks in Melbourne, on 20th April, 1857, Ursula opened the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the first Catholic girls’ secondary school to be opened in the colony.  Today it is the oldest Catholic girls&rs

Mass for schools to honour the Feast of St Patrick

Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Thursday, 15th March, 2007 at 10.30am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sixteen hundred and forty-six years ago Saint Patrick died; a great bishop, teacher and leader of the Church in Ireland.

The first Catholics in Melbourne were largely Irish people, who established their own schools, taught the faith of Jesus Christ and built this cathedral.

Despite challenges and opposition Patrick was constant in his love of Jesus Christ.  As we celebrate this Mass honouring Saint Patrick we profess our love of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. 

In calling to mind our sins, let us ask that Jesus will be with us, be for us in joy, in sorrow, in peace and danger.


My dear young friends,

Patrick was born in Roman Britain, the son of a city councillor, who had a country farm.  At sixteen Irish pirates came and sold him as a slave.  For six years he had to be a shepherd, living with the sheep in wind and rain.  Encouraged by a voice that he heard in his sleep, he escaped and found a ship and eventually got back to Roman Britain.

This voice and the prayer and solitude he had known changed him and he converted to Jesus.  His knowledge and love of Jesus was so strong that once in a dream he heard the voice of the Irish people calling him back.  He then went to France to study for the priesthood and later went back to work converting the Irish people.  He took others with him; people who would build and craft churches and teach others in the faith.  Everywhere he went he left a church where people knew their faith, loved God and knew Jesus Christ as Lord.

Patrick was the second bishop in Ireland and he concentrated on the north and the west.  Going about there was constant danger.  Some of the clergy and some of the Irish people opposed him.  Yet, as an old man he wrote his confession or summary of the faith:  “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, the three in one and one in three.”  This is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Patrick was noted for his courage and his love of Jesus Christ.  He was a man of prayer, he did not waste time, and he listened to God when he prayed.  Patrick can give us courage:-

  1. To know what God wants of us and to do what is right;
  2. To be faithful to prayer;
  3. To be people of the truth that God has given us.  Our education in Catholic schools is precisely for this that we persevere, that we pray, that we learn the truth that will prepare us for life.
  4. Our obedience and respect for God, our parents and teachers, who stand in God’s place to lead and guide us.  This helps us make ready for a generous life when we are “givers” for family, friends and those we meet. 

Jesus chose Patrick to show people how to live.  We learn from the events of every day to be obedient – not giving up – and doing our best.  This is how we give ourself!

We Catholics have something special to offer our families and the people round about us.  It is knowing that Jesus values each person, trusts us to try and understand them, and wants us to give them hope.  Saint Patrick’s own words show us how important it is to love and follow Jesus by prayer, Sunday Mass, and by our words and deeds.  He says: “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.”

May we learn and practise Patrick’s lesson – everything w