Feast of the Ascension, admission of new choristers

Feast of the Ascension, admission of new choristers

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 24 MAY 2009 AT 11AM, WITH THE ADMISSION OF NEW CHORISTERS. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension.  Jesus has gone to return to the Father so that the Holy Spirit might come.  We sense that he has gone from us in his divine/human manifestation.  We know that he will return again as our judge to take us with him at the end of time. The Ascension reminds us that Jesus is our God, whom we praise in word and song.  Today we will welcome new choristers...

Blessing and Official Opening of Cabrini Hospital, Brighton



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to be here with Professor Peter Phelan, the President of your Board, your General Manager, Dr. Michael Walsh, and staff, patients and families, as I bless the magnificent work which has been done to renovate Cabrini Brighton.

You are providing a marvellous opportunity for private health care in our southern suburbs and following the example of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini to bring the compassion of Christ into the lives of those who need it most.


Dear Friends,

The Word of God which we have just read highlights how Jesus Christ, who suffered more than any of us suffer, enters into the life of each person.  For many years we have known the existence of Cabrini Malvern - more recently of palliative and residential care, of rehabilitation, and now Cabrini Brighton will focus on cancer services, women’s health and specialty surgery.  The day oncology unit is also open with special work in the sleep clinic, endoscopy, high dependency and in diagnostic services.  We can truly say that Melbourne’s bayside suburbs will have a world-class hospital on their doorstep in this important area.

One thing that I have found about Cabrini has always been the high standard of care, the continuity of staff and the ability of the Cabrini Sisters to communicate to their lay collaborators the spirit of their Foundress.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini born on 15th July 1850, died on 22nd December 1917, known as Mother Cabrini, she was the first American citizen to be canonised by the Church.  She had been born in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy, the youngest of thirteen children of Agostino and Stella who were farmers.  She remained in delicate health throughout her sixty-seven years.

When she tried to enter the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, Mother Giovanna Grassi refused admission, even though she saw potential in her, because of her frail health.  She said:  “Your call to establish another Institute that will bring new glory to the heart of Jesus.”  She was rejected by the Canossian Sisters, supported her parents until their death and in 1871 she became a public school teacher at the request of her vows.  In 1877 she took vows and became the Mother Superior of the House of Providence Orphanage at Cododno where she taught.

In 1880 after the closure of the orphanage, she and six others took religious vows and she came under attention of Bishop Giovanni Scalabrini of Piacenza after they had established seven homes, a free school and a nursery, and of Pope Leo XIII.

By 1889 Pope Leo sent her to New York City where she founded an orphanage, known today as the Saint Cabrini Home, the first of sixty-seven institutions she founded in New York and throughout the States.  Her energy and dedication, her outreach to people in need, was incomparable.

In the sixty-one years that the Cabrini Sisters have been here, aided by gifted and courageous collaborators, they have established a network of hospitals and care facilities with a strong commitment to just employment, to the creation of a community based on Christian values, and to serving the marginalised, whether by birth or by sickness.

Cabrini Brighton is a gracious initiative which is seriously needed in the southern suburbs.  I am particularly grateful to the Sisters and their collaborators for all that they continue to do and for the highest standards of care and welcome, which they demonstrate so courageously and generously.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.


Sixth Sunday of Easter



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we turn to Christ as the source of our life.  If we do that then our life, its works, its relationships, will indeed be most fruitful. During this Mass we might well meditate on the extent to which our lives are bearing fruit and what areas in our lives are in need of pruning.

As we call to mind our sins, the realism with which we confront our own weakness and blend it with the power of Christ may help us to be transformed.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

If you regularly pass a vineyard you will notice the different times of the year.  The bare vines after pruning, the spindly shoots that come forward when growth begins, the lush fruit and green leaves of summer and then the time of picking.  I never was a gardener!  I could mow lawns, cut back trees and tidy up.  I could even plant and prune roses.  However, I did not ever have a sense of what plant would do well in the sun or out of it.  I know that roses like the sun and I have always liked roses.

Jesus today stresses that he is the vine, we are the branches, and we need constant pruning by his divine word if we are to bear good fruit.  Those in the seminary will know that correction and encouragement are important.  They may learn some home truths when a brother seminarian puts it to them.  The humility with which we see these prunings in our life show that we want to be open to growth in Christ, to possibilities that we do not always see ourselves, but which the Word of God enjoins upon us.  That is why meditating upon the Word of God, being honest with ourselves, leads to a total honest commitment to Christ and a realism with regard to self and what we achieve and what are our failures.

Bishop Tom Wright says of this parable:  “Vines need to focus their energy on producing good quality grapes rather than lots of second rate ones.  Vines need to grow towards the light rather than getting in a tangled mass.  Left to themselves they produce a lot of superfluous growth which must be cut away if the vine is truly to be what it is capable of.”

Relationships with other human beings seen in faith can often act for this pruning.  Jesus had spoken the word to the disciples, calling them to take up their cross and follow him.  They had to submit to the pruner’s knife cutting away other goals and ambitions.  They have already born fruit, they must now expect more pruning so that they can bear more fruit.

Each of us knows on our journey through life that just when we think we have got to know what are our weaknesses, to think wrongly that we have them under control, that suddenly there is a new outburst.  That is why we need good spiritual guidance, we need prayer, we need to measure ourselves alongside the word of God.

Our Lord says:  “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”  (John 15:4)  How do we remain in Christ?  We must remain in the community that knows and loves Jesus and celebrates him as Lord.  There is no such thing as a solitary Christian.  If we are only doing our own thing, then are we taking our place in the Church of Christ?

Bishop Wright commenting on this passage says:  “We can’t go it alone, but we must also remain as people of prayer and worship in our own intimate, private lives.  We must make sure to be in touch with Jesus, knowing him and being known by him, and though it always hurts we must be ready for the Father’s pruning knife.  God is glorified and so will we be by bearing good quality fruit and lots of it.  For that to happen there will be extra growths that need cutting away.”  The vinedresser is never closer to the vine than when he has the knife in hand.

So remaining close to Jesus means exposing our own vulnerability, having the hear

Blessing of St Marcartan's School, Mornington



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with Father Kevin Mogg, your Principal, the builder and architect, and so many friends, as we celebrate the opening of the new Saint Macartan’s School.

Here in Mornington you have been faced with an aging school on a small site and with great imagination you have now acquired this new site in Bungower Road, which is near residential development in the newer part of Mornington and which will cater for up to 600 young people receiving Catholic education.  I am very grateful to Father Mogg for his generosity in coming to Mornington and overseeing such an exciting development.

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,

Mornington lies at the centre of unprecedented development in the southern part of Melbourne.  I am very pleased that with Father Mogg you have constructed a new primary school here 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 significant that Saint Macartan was the first Bishop of Clogher in Ireland.  He may have been consecrated by Saint Patrick and was possibly Abbot of Dairmis Abbey before becoming a Bishop.  He is renowned for his miraculous gifts.  As a man of faith and a bishop, he was totally committed to teaching the faith that comes from the apostles.  We are deeply grateful for the faith of the Irish people nurtured by Saint Patrick and sown so effectively in Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Together with parents, the teachers here at Saint Macartan’s, your parish priest, Father Mogg, and all of the parish community are wanting to provide the these 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 Macartan’s.

As Archbishop I would like to pay particular tribute to all who have worked so hard with Father Mogg to make this school a reality.  In its exciting first year on this new site 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 Macartan’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 in your children.  I thank you as initial families and pupils for your courage in coming to this new venture, which provides me also with encouragement kno

Mass at Catholic Charismatic Renewal Centre



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with you as today we bless the new Centre for Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

We are in the season of Easter where the joy of the Risen Lord guides our steps in newness of life.  The joy of Easter, that the Lord is risen and lives among us, is something which permeates the whole of our Christian life and which inspires us as we undertake a new phase in the spiritual life of Catholic Charismatic Renewal and dedicate this new Centre to the work of prayer, reflection and renewal of our spiritual lives.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the light of Easter the Gospel we have just read puts before us the dynamic in which we live and work.  In the Alleluia Verse we said:  “If then you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”  We are challenged to focus very clearly on our direction that Jesus Christ is all in all.  If we encounter opposition from the world Our Lord reminds us that it hated him before it hated us.

Saint Paul was impatient with the new Christians until Christ be formed in them.  The motive which accompanies and instructs Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a similar one; to seek out the knowledge in a life-changing way that Jesus is risen, illumined by this knowledge to bring that knowledge into effect in our personal prayer lives, our devotion to Mass and the Sacraments, our meditating upon the Scriptures humbly and our gathering for prayer supported by the love and petitions of our brothers and sisters.

Our Lord’s own words:  “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” is a reminder of the power of communal prayer and of the wonderful things that the Lord will bring about through his Holy Spirit whose coming we will commemorate in two weeks’ time.

One of the great gifts that Our Lord gave to his apostles was the ability to believe that things were possible and to go forward challenged and stimulated by that belief to work at transforming the world.  We are the servants of the Lord.  We have been given the great gift of the Holy Spirit in prayer and word and deed to carry that service in a genuine and fruitful way into the world of today.

The challenge I give you today is that as we have a new Centre, each of you might welcome some other person to a deeper love of the Lord through the work of this Centre and of its prayer groups.  In this way the word will not only be fruitful in your hearts and minds, but will produce great things in your lives.  Our Lord’s reference “if they kept my word they will keep yours as well” shows what a close correspondence there has to be between Jesus’ words and our words and deeds.

May Jesus through his Holy Spirit live in your hearts and your lives forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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