97th World Day of Migrant and Refugees

97th World Day of Migrant and Refugees

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE 97TH WORLD DAY OF MIGRANT AND REFUGEES AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 28 AUGUST 2011 AT 2.30PM. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, With a sense of welcome and blessing for all those who have come to Australia and for the tremendous enrichment which you have given us, we begin this Mass for migrants and refugees as members of one human family, members of God’s family in the Church and of a human family, the domestic church. HOMILY Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today’s Mass challenges us regarding the nature and...

Mass for WYD pilgrims in the crypt of the Cathedral in Madrid, Spain



My dear young friends,

Finally we are together in Madrid and we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven. 

Mary’s being taken body and soul to be with God is a constant reminder that Mary was kept free from sin from the very moment of her conception.  She freely chose to live a life which was a daily and lifelong yes to Jesus whom she welcomed into the world and now she is with God in heaven praying for us pilgrims with special motherly prayers to her Son.

Let us make her the patron of our pilgrimage.


My dear young friends,

A time of pilgrimage is a time of great blessing.  It is also a time of striving and endeavour.  In the Gospel story we have just read we notice Mary, chosen by God, reaching out in charity to her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, who recognises who Mary is and makes her own profession of faith in the presence of Jesus.

Both of them were pregnant at the same time.  Elizabeth recognises Mary as “the Mother of my Lord” and the one who “believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled”.

Pilgrimage is a time of journeying.  Deep in the heart of each one of us there is longing for love, happiness, peace and purpose in life.  Mary’s whole life was devoted to God and to humanity.  Her visit to Saint Elizabeth is one example of how in any situation, no matter how bad, we can always reach out to others.

Remember that Mary was a young girl chosen with a puzzling announcement that she was to give birth to a son.  Because she trusted God she said yes to God becoming human.  Then she followed him through his public ministry, saw him crucified, but then rise again, saw him leave at the Ascension and was with the apostles at Pentecost before she returned to be with God.

Pilgrimage is a time when we examine the details of our life.  Through prayer we allow God to speak more clearly.  Through the Word of God and the knowledge that we are with other young people who are searching like we are, we come to discover God’s all-embracing love, his forgiveness in the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the way in which it is possible for us to grow in our love of God.

Mary’s whole life was an illustration of her own words:  “I am the servant of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.”

On the day that you and I were baptised God promised that he loved us and would never desert us.  We are invited to believe as Mary did that the promise God makes us will indeed be fulfilled.  Here in Madrid may we find an understanding of God’s love, of the wonder of Mary’s care and prayers.  Through the friendships we form, may we realise that God is near to us and that he is inviting us to do something special for him, as yet unknown and yet promised by him.

Last September Pope Benedict beatified Blessed John Henry Newman, whose words:  “God has created me to do him some particular service”, ring in our ears as we see what it meant in Mary’s life and are open to what God will call in our life.

God invites us to come on pilgrimage, reaching to him and to others with joy and with trust that whatever part we may play in his plan is his promise to us which he will support with grace and light and help.

May Mary, the woman clothed with the sun, give us through her prayers a love and faithfulness to Jesus that will be life-giving and transforming and give us hope for the future of what we are and what we can become for the life of the world.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Twenty second Sunday in Ordinary Time



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Mass encourages us to realise our total dependence on God. 

Our own will and our own choices can only be seen in the light of God’s plan for us because he alone is the Creator and Redeemer.

Whether in suffering or in challenge and death, the mission which God gives us is most powerful and leads to resurrection.

We ask God the Father to enlighten our eyes to see the great hope to which we are called.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We as believers can be at peace in the knowledge that God’s grace is ever present to mentor our minds and encourage our efforts at goodness.

The Readings today show us how Jeremiah was totally taken over by the Lord, despite the fact that this led him to suffering.  The thirst that we have for the Lord, our wanting to see God’s strength and glory, knowing his help, is just so important.  What is important to remember is that God is merciful to us and we have to have a new way of looking at things, which is God’s way.  Saint Peter, of course, shrank back when Jesus told him that it was to suffer and to die.  But a broader understanding of God’s call is given perhaps by the famous German Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in 1945.

When he spoke of his early ministry he said:  “I threw myself into the work in a very unchristian and rather arrogant manner.  A mind boggling ambition made my life difficult and separated me from the love and trust of my fellow human beings.  At that time I was terribly alone.  Then something difficult happened which changed my life.  I came to the Bible.  I had always preached, seen a lot of the church, and given speeches about the Bible and written about it, but I still had not become a Christian.  I was very much an untamed child.  I had turned the whole business about Jesus into an advantage for myself.  I had never prayed, or at least not much and not really.  It was from this that the Bible freed me, it became clear to me that a life of a servant of Jesus must belong to the Church.”

Only when he realised that he did not belong to himself, but to God and to others did Bonhoeffer arrive at the place of surrender where he was willing to accede to God’s plan rather than his own.  God’s Word was not just a lesson or a sermon, but a living, breathing partner, to whom he was to listen and from which he dialogued and reflected.

Jeremiah in today’s first Reading struggled with what God asked of him.  Paul shows himself as making a living sacrifice.  But more than that, Peter was not fully aware of what he accepted when Jesus said, “Follow me.”  Peter was looking to glory and victory, whereas Jesus showed that the true Messianic call was to suffer, to die and to rise again.  This brings us to confront our own weakness and struggles, the things that we cannot explain, the challenges that we cannot forget. 

The invitation today is to surrender ourselves and our lives to God, to be mentored and directed by the Word and by the will of God.  Like Bonhoeffer when we surrender we will find ourselves in the embrace of God whose loving will challenges our every effort and whose saving Word speaks to our every need. 

How great indeed is the hope to which we are called, as we thirst for the living God, pining for him and knowing that he will save us and bring us to our destiny.  We have to be shaped by a new mind, which allows God to take us over, to know what is good and that his plan is the perfect answer for us. 

May Jesus live in our hearts forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are confident and loving in calling God our Father.  Even though we struggle and life at times can be difficult, we are confident to call him Father because he will provide for all our needs.

As we begin our Mass, let us ask the Lord to give us light, pardon and strength.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel today helps us to address the question of fear in our lives.  So often we like to have everything planned, to know what is going to happen and we have a tremendous fear of the unknown.  Sailors often tell me that in the dark waters where there is no moon just before dawn the very darkness can play tricks with their minds.

It is not surprising then that Peter and the apostles were in the boat and suddenly became fearful because of the wind and the rough weather.  When Our Lord arrived walking on the water they were surprised and horrified.  Yet Saint Peter, ever impetuous moved on by deep faith, stepped out at Jesus’ invitation also to walk on the water.  Notice that it is only when he had lost sight of Jesus and turned to himself and his own fears that he started to sink.

Saint John says in his first Letter ‘perfect love casts out fear’ and this is a reminder that if our life is focussed on Jesus, even though we may have difficulties and struggles, then we will see everything in its context and be always on our journey towards what Jesus has planned for us.

The Gospel today underlines for us that we are ready to face the stormy seas of life; our financial and family burdens, the worries for people who have given up the faith, the hope that members of our family will have good health, will marry well to people whom we find acceptable, the hope that we will be successful in whatever studies or career we undertake.

The Gospel commentator, William Barclay, makes the important point:  “In the hour of the disciples’ need Jesus came to them.  When the wind was contrary and when life was a struggle he was there to help.  No sooner had a need arisen than Jesus was there to help and save.”  We know that there are times when life is a desperate struggle; with our circumstances, ourselves, our temptations, our sorrows, our decisions.

Today we want to go forward in the knowledge that none of us has to go alone because Jesus is always with us, with his hands stretched out to save and guide us.  What Jesus once did in the storm far off in Palestine that he will do for us and in our lives.  The words of the Alleluia Verse:  “I hope in the Lord, I trust in his Word”, or of the Psalm Refrain:  “Lord, show us your mercy and love and grant us your salvation”, show us convincingly that no matter what may happen to us God’s providence and care walk with us at every moment of every day.  We can turn to him with confidence and hope, but we must nourish our friendship through prayer, right deeds and as the Prayer after Communion says, in being faithful to the light of God’s truth.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Mass for the 10th anniversary of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family



Dear Friends,

On this Sunday when we celebrate the bountiful love of God shown in the multiplication of loaves and fishes and in his abundant care in the Eucharist, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Melbourne Session of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

Together with Bishop Peter Elliott, the Director, himself a student of the Roman Session of the Institute, Bishop Anthony Fisher, the First Director, Associate Professor Tracey Rowland, the Dean, and Members of the Faculty and students, we thank God for his many blessings, as we commit ourselves through the Institute and in our family and diocesan life to be continually nourished in mind and heart by Christ’s teaching and by the great gift of the Eucharist.

To prepare our hearts to celebrate it worthily, let us call to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The constant providence of God is demonstrated beautifully by the Gospel we have just read.  As human beings we have hunger for food, for nourishment for our mind, for grace and light for our spirit.  In these Sundays when we speak of the power of the Eucharist to transform human hearts it is fitting that we do thank God for the gift of the John Paul II Institute.

In 1981 Blessed John Paul II had been the victim of a terrible assassination attempt in Saint Peter’s Square.  Subsequently, he announced the founding of the Pontifical Council for the Family with my predecessor and great friend, Cardinal James Robert Knox, as its first President.

Because Blessed John Paul II saw that the life of marriage and family was at the centre of the Church and continuing the mission of Christ in the modern world he founded the Institute as Pope Benedict said:  “to study, research and disseminate his catecheses on human love that contain a profound reflection of the human body”.  Indeed, this entrustment finds a strong development in Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Letter, Caritas in veritate, which analyses and carries forward our understanding of human love.

Since its inception here ten years ago and who will forget the Address of Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the then President of the Pontifical Council of the Family, at the Institute’s Inauguration here in Melbourne, we have welcomed 550 students from 16 countries (New Zealand, U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, France, Holland, Tokelau, Mexico).  We can see graduates of the Institute working in Family Apostolate to give a deeper understanding of human nature, of the theology of the body and of the life to which we are called and which is our significant contribution to the society in which we live and work.

In his Audience to the Faculty and Members of the Institute on 13th May, some days after the Beatification of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict said these words:  “The journey of creation finds its fullness in the Incarnation.  God took a body, revealed himself in it.  The upward movement of the body is hence integrated in another more original movement, the humble movement of God who lowers himself towards the body in order to raise it to him.  As a Son he received a body in gratitude and in listening to the Father he gave his body for us to generate the new body of the Church.  That is why the theology of the body is so profound.  When it is interpreted in the whole of tradition it does not run the risk of being superficial, but allows us to understand the greatness of the vocation to love which is a call to a communion of persons in the two-fold life, whether of virginity or marriage.”

The Institute has h