Blessing of the Science and Performing Arts Centre at Xavier College, Kew

Blessing of the Science and Performing Arts Centre at Xavier College, Kew

BLESSING OF THE SCIENCE & PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE AT XAVIER COLLEGE, KEW, BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART, ON FRIDAY 25 JULY 2008 AT 2PM. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, Like many of the best artistic works this wonderful Centre for Science and Performing Arts has been slightly longer in gestation than was originally expected. Likewise, it will house the Development Office and the Function Room named after Fr. Joseph Dalton SJ who purchased the property in 1872. I am delighted to be with you and to pay tribute to all who have taken part in the construction of this...

Address for the inauguration of the Pauline Year


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great joy that I welcome you to this first function for the Pauline Year.

At Vespers on 28th June 2007, Pope Benedict announced a special year of jubilee to the Apostle, Paul, which will last until the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul in 2009 on the occasion of the bi-millennium of his birth.

There will be special celebrations at Saint Paul’s outside the walls in Rome, where the remains of the Apostle are preserved, supported by the unanimous opinion of experts and an undisputed tradition.  The emphasis in Rome and elsewhere will be for liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events.  In Rome there will be penitential pilgrimages to the Apostle’s tomb and the whole Church is encouraged to undertake studies and special publications on Pauline texts to make even more widely known the immense wealth of teaching they contain, a true patrimony of humanity redeemed by Christ.

The Holy Father has invited us throughout the world, in places of worship and study and social assistance centres, in ecumenical activities to witness to the Christ whom Paul taught so well.

Paul was converted from ideas that were deficient, defiant and destructive.  Monsignor Luigi Giussani wrote:  “The human being in all ages of history ‘resists the consequence of the mystery made flesh’, for if this Event is true then all aspects of life including the sensible and social must revolve around it and it is precisely man’s perception of being undermined, no longer being the measure of his own self that places him in the position of refusal.”

Paul’s conversion profoundly changes his own thinking and he is constant in inviting Christians to embrace the new way of thinking, lest “they be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ”.   (2 Cor 11:3) 

Again in Romans, Saint Paul says:  “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2) 

Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote of Paul:   “After the encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus Paul saw Christ in everyone, Christ in everything; nothing but Christ.” 

And from the moment that God sent Ananaeus to the house on Straight Street to lay hands on Saul in order to free him from his blindness, Paul learned to look for companions whom God placed in his path as the way to recognise Christ in his life.  Perhaps this is why Paul depended so much on several companions in his missionary journeys; Paul, Barnabas, John, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Sopater, Aristarchus, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus and Titus.  These friends in the faith make the presence of Christ concrete.  It is not surprising then that Paul has a special appeal to us who make our journey together into the mystery of Christ.


His many missionary journeys show how totally his life was devoted to witnessing to Christ.  He asks in Romans:  “How can they believe in him?  Of him they have not heard.  And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can the people preach unless they are sent?”  (Romans 10:14-15)


Paul created the primitive Christian genre of letters.  He knows how letters bear the unmistakeable stamp of the person who wrote them better than any other documents.  The Scripture scholar, Gunther Bornkamm, says of writers:  “Breath and at the same time we are brought back very close

Annual Mass and Ivestiture of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today Jesus speaks to his disciples asking them who people say he is.  Peter’s affirmation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, is the watchword of our whole Catholic life.

It is particularly appropriate that members of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, who profess particular devotion to the Holy Places in which Jesus lived and worked and to the spread of the Gospel, are with us today for their annual investiture.

As we gather in unity of faith, with Christ as our watchword, let us call to mind our sins that his light may cover our darkness.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Today’s Gospel focuses us once again on who is Christ for our life.  The whole of our faith is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It was Peter’s whole reason for existence, sustaining him in his weakness, drawing him out to be an articulate proclaimer and leader of the faith.  Later at the Council of Jerusalem the commission that Jesus gave to Peter was accepted by all of the disciples.

From the time of Peter he and his successors have been a focus of the unity of the Church and also of the fact that Jesus Christ is the reason for the Church’s existence.  You and I are invited to remain in love with Jesus Christ and by that to attain what God promises in oneness of mind and heart.

Isaiah tells the story of binding and loosing, which is picked up by Jesus and by Peter’s profession at Caesarea Philippi and Jesus entrusting to him the keys.  Peter’s own hesitation and human weakness have given away to a special assistance, which only God can give him.  It is perhaps a remarkable surprise to us that God would build his Church upon a man of so obvious weakness and insecurity, one who denied Jesus three times and yet was given a similar privilege of not merely professing his divinity, but living it until the time of his martyrdom.

The reason why we experience this unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is surely because human weakness is transformed by the power of Christ.  Our use of the sacrament of reconciliation to seek forgiveness always gives us a new mission to go out and live the life of the Gospel, supported by the eternal love of God, knowing that we are the work of God’s hands.

Saint Paul goes even further in Romans when he says:  “How rich are the depths of God, how deep his wisdom and knowledge, and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods.”  (Romans 11:33)  This is a reminder that God is with those who profess faith in him, who remain united with his Church and, despite the imperfection of its people, that Church will endure until the end of time because it is a reflection, a preparation of the life of eternity.

One of the problems we have in our modern life is that we tend to look at things in too rational a way; analysing and adding up our faults and imperfections, realising that by human logic it is impossible for us to change or grow.  Divine logic, however, is far different.  It gives us the capacity to grow because by following his teaching we become holy and are transformed.

Just as the bread and wine, our gifts, are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, so our human weakness and unprofitability is given a new dimension of growth and transformation until the day when we will see Jesus face to face and

Blessing and opening of new buildings at St Monica's College, Epping



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with Mr. Brian Hanley, members of staff, students and families of Saint Monica’s College, as we proceed to the blessing and opening of the new Year 9 building.

In its existence of 44 years, Saint Monica’s College has built up to an enrolment of 1700 students.  An atmosphere of friendliness, co-operation and welcome has stimulated the education of so many young people. 

I rejoice in this new venture, which will even further enhance the gifts offered to young people through this magnificent College.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In an atmosphere of joy and congratulation to all who have brought this Year 9 building to completion, I wish to thank the Principal, Mr. Brian Hanley, members of staff, the architect and builder, the parents and families of the College, and all who have contributed to this building.

Saint Monica’s College, as you know, has existed in concept since 1964 when the decision was taken to establish a Regional Girls’ Secondary College in this area.  On 5th February 1967, the year that I was ordained a priest, the building in Davisson Street was blessed by Bishop Moran with an enrolment of 240 girls.  However, by 1978 the College became co-educational and there were further expansions on Dalton Road in 1978, Wedge Street in 1986, and major refurbishments in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007.  This year the Science and Technology Building was added to the Year 9 building completed the previous year.

We owe deep gratitude to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and to the lay staff who have carried forward a remarkable programme of development and expansion, enhancing the work and providing for the needs of so many young people.

Your College is Saint Monica’s.  Saint Monica, as we know, was born of Christian parents at Tagaste in North Africa in 333, dying as a widow at Ostia near Rome in 387.  Three children, Saint Augustine, Novidius and Perpetua were born.  Saint Monica is known for her prayers and care for her children, particularly for Saint Augustine.  The support of her constant prayers brought him to be a priest and holy bishop, leaving aside a wayward life and through Saint Ambrose, Augustine was baptised in the church of Saint John the Baptist at Milan.  Saint Augustine’s Confessions underline the journey of challenge to love and follow Jesus Christ, which Saint Monica sustained always in her heart.

This challenge to full Catholic faith and living is the very foundation of all that Saint Monica’s does.  It is not merely a facility provided for people who are Catholic in name.  It provides an invitation to have a personal love of Jesus Christ, to be united with him in prayer and Mass and because of the formation received at Saint Monica’s to witness to Jesus in the world.

At Randwick some Sundays ago Pope Benedict challenged the young people of the world to respond.  “What kind of world will you leave behind?  What will be the gifts you will use?”  All of this is inspired by prayer and by the ideals which underpin this great College.  May the learning acquired here complete and supplement the knowledge of the true faith, its living and practice, which are the watchword of Saint Monica’s.

Congratulations to all who have brought this project about.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sometimes we can think that Christ and his teaching are our prerogative.  We regard non-believers, others, as outsiders and thereby we deny them the contact with Christ, which we have been freely given.

Today’s Readings ask whether we can leave our prejudices behind so that always our lives bear witness to the Gospel.  Sometimes unbelievers will come searching and will be turned off because we are not open and welcoming to them.  Yet God wants to share the joy of his kingdom with all people.  We can be instruments of attraction or repulsion.

Let us call to mind our sins that the Lord will help us to be his ambassadors to allow him to shine through our lives.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

One of the most moving moments in my trip to Mumbai last January for the Missal project was to visit the house of Mahatma Gandhi in Central Mumbai.  In his autobiography Gandhi tells how during his student days he read the Gospels and saw in the teachings of Jesus the answer to the major problem facing the people of India, the caste system.  Seriously considering to embrace the Christian faith Gandhi attended church one Sunday morning intending to talk to the minister about that idea.  On entering the church, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and told him to go and worship with his own people.  Gandhi left the church and never returned.  “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said, “I might as well remain Hindu.”

Yet all through his life Gandhi campaigned for the equality and dignity of people.  His house is filled with memoirs of the remarkable, simple life which showed that God has a purpose of love for all of us.

Sometimes we can feel that Jesus came only for Israel and his message now is only for those who are in the Church.  It is not clear in the Gospel whether Jesus said this simply to reflect and reject a popular conception about him or whether this was part of his mission at this time.  Notice the woman coming to Jesus, “Have mercy on me Lord, son of David,” and Jesus still ignored her.  Yet her efforts were intensified to the point that the disciples had to ask Jesus to do something.  “Send her away for she keeps shouting after us.”  (Verse 23B)  Courage and her refusal to take no for an answer finally paid off.  Even when Jesus rebuffed her, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Verse 26)  But clearly she expressed the need to show to non-Jews that God’s mission in Christ was to all people.  Jesus finally said, “Woman, great is your faith.  Let it be done for you as you wish.”  (Verse 28)

This contrasts strongly with the first Reading; the emphasis on justice and integrity, the invitation to all people to praise God, Saint Paul’s admission that he was sent to the pagans so as to preach Christ risen from the dead.

Saint John Chrysostom said:  “When the apostles had failed the woman had success.  Such a great thing is persistence in prayer.  Jesus’ affirmative request shows us that great was the power of her faith.”

In today’s Mass the Church invites us to remember the value of constant prayer.  The woman’s, “Lord, help me”, and her constancy in prayer are a reminder that everything can be brought to God in prayer for all people, all situations and this is often a great means of God’s healing.  My experience in parishes is of pe