Mass for the Golden Jubilee of St Matthew's Primary School, North Fawkner

Mass for the Golden Jubilee of St Matthew's Primary School, North Fawkner

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT MATTHEW’S CHURCH, NORTH FAWKNER, FOR THE GOLDEN JUBILEE OF THE SCHOOL ON WEDNESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2011 AT 7PM. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am honoured to be with Father Kandarapally and Mr. Philip Smith, your teachers, pupils, and the school and parish communities as we celebrate the feast of Saint Matthew, the patron saint of your parish on this significant occasion which celebrates fifty years of Saint Matthew’s school. Saint Matthew was called by Jesus from being a tax collector to be an apostle and the writer of the...

Mass at the Australian Catholic University chapel



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Matthew, the tax collector chosen by Jesus to be apostle and evangelist.  Matthew has lain open for us so much of Jesus’ word and teaching, which transformed his own life.

As I offer Mass for you, let us all remember that God is near to us in whatever work we do and particularly in the precious work of formation and development which is part of every University.

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

God calls unusual people in diverse situations.  Nowhere is this truer than the call which he gave to Saint Matthew via the customs house.  From being a member of a class of people who were hated and feared Jesus transformed Matthew into a person who was able to articulate and present to us a deep knowledge and love of Jesus.

For Matthew, his call was a vocation.  Just as Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians begging them to lead a life worthy of their vocation, so the words of both Reading and Gospel resonate to all of us here today.  Jesus is saying to us, ‘follow me’.  Saint Paul is imploring us to lead a life worthy of our vocation. 

In academic life this means to launch into the deep fund of knowledge which God has revealed in the world which he has made.  Whether in arts, sciences, caring professions, teaching, human life begins with God’s imperishable gift of a new human being invited consciously and articulately to discover God’s love and truth and to be nourished on a lifelong journey by the splendour of that truth.  For many of us this began with our parents:  Their own prayer and wonder and life and values.  As we mature the studies we do enlarge our mind and our heart and our capacity for the message of Jesus Christ which goes through all the earth.

When Saint Paul says that we should lead a life worthy of our vocation he underlines the important virtues:  Charity, unselfishness, gentleness and patience.  In academic life in a Catholic University guided by the Magisterium which leads us to Jesus Christ we continue our reflection and discovery mutually with a dynamic operating between lecturers and students that is a constant search for truth and an openness to where truth leads us. 

Unity of faith, of course, highlighted by Saint Paul, means unity with the Church and a careful study of her teaching.  In all our teaching and writing we need to send the message of Christ and his unity to the world which is often confused and loses its way in the search for truth, reducing it to relativity. 

Indeed, the life of Saint Matthew, his call from being a hated tax collector to being an evangelist is a reminder of the transforming power of the work of God and the grace of Christ as we seek to continue our journey.  It is through the light of the Holy Spirit that dwells in the Church and in each individual, given in the Sacrament of Confirmation with mission for witness that we seek to grow in our lives and in our witness through all the earth to the power of Christ in human lives.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Mass at Tarrawarra Abbey, Yarra Glen


My dear Brothers and Sisters,

So many of us can go through life with our minds made up about things and people.  We can often be surrounded by a series of ‘I will not do this’, ‘I will not be there’ and so on.

In the Gospel Our Lord tells the remarkable story of the man who said ‘no’ and then changed his mind.  It reveals the wonderful fascination that people, who had their minds well made up and were disinclined to submit straight away to the faith, found in Jesus.  It is picked up in the prayer of the Mass when God shows his power in mercy and forgiveness and fills us with his gifts of love.

Yet we must remember our first ‘I do’ came at Baptism.  Whether spoken by ourselves or our Godparents, it introduces a series of responses to God’s graced calls, which have punctuated our lives with opportunities to love, worship, serve and grow and witness to the good news of salvation.  Every time we receive the Sacraments or pray our ‘yes’ to God is made stronger.

Indeed, the Eucharist that we celebrate each Sunday affirms the ‘yes’ of our week.  However, the challenge for us is to translate our Sunday ‘yes’ to the habit of working with God in all things.  In fact, we are not part-time or weekend disciples.  We belong to God and depend on God for every breath and to acknowledge our belonging and use that breath to say ‘yes, I do’.

Yves de Montcheuil says:  “The habit of saying ‘yes’ to God requires lifelong care and constant attention.  We may not sit back and relax.  We always have to be following Jesus without knowing beforehand where we are going, ready to discern and say ‘yes’ to what God is expecting of us.  This is because God’s invitation is one to grow.  We are involved in ever new ways of saying ’yes’.  We are always aware that God inspires every movement to say ‘yes’ with grace and blesses our every ‘yes’ with love.”

The first Reading mentions the conversion of the sinner and the way of grace brought about by God’s mercy.  We have to remember who Jesus is and how humbly he shared our human nature, being exalted on the cross and by his total self-giving to bring us to eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is always time.  If we listen to the Lord’s voice in our heart then our ‘yes’ will become real and practical.  In one of his Parochial and Plain Sermons, Cardinal Newman says:  “Whoever does one little deed of obedience by denial, care to the sick and needy or curbing our temper, or by forgiveness, or asking forgiveness, such a person shows more true faith than could be shown by the most fluent religious conversation or knowledge of scripture, of doctrine or of high spiritual sentiments.  It is good deeds rather than pious thoughts that will save us.”

That is why, as the prayer says, “we must hurry towards the eternal life God has promised”.  This we do by our daily repeated, constant loving ‘yes’ to God and trusting that where he leads, although we do not know where, we will find our true happiness and we will bring others to the Lord who is kind and merciful.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Mass for the Canon Law Society Conference, Novotel Hotel, St Kilda



My dear Brothers and Sisters,

With sentiments of deepest esteem for the great contribution that you make to the life of the people of God in Australia, I welcome you to Melbourne for this Canon Law Conference.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and I bring your intentions and the needs of those you serve so well to this perfect sacrifice because in the cross is light, salvation, hope and resurrection.

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.


My dear Friends,

Every time we raise our eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ we see it as an instrument of hope and belief in eternal life.  Later in the same Gospel Saint John records the constant love of God in giving his only Son to bring people to life.

Most of us would have become involved in the practice of Canon Law because others in the Church felt a need and asked us to fulfil that need.  With varying degrees of professional training we came to enter into our first involvement.  For those of us involved in Tribunal work we invariably came into contact with people who had suffered greatly and were seeking our help in providing some redress to their sufferings and hope for life.

When I first did some Tribunal work back in 1975 I remember Frank Harman wisely showing how often the telling of a person’s story can be therapeutic because it was often for the first time that they had unburdened their soul.

Others have been involved in teaching, professional advice, counselling of religious, advocating the causes of their clients and the difficult work of assessing and judging cases.  Still others have been involved with works to do with the Holy See or with dispensations and permissions.

Truly it can be said that we are involved in a work which involves the cross; sometimes of suffering in our clients and other times of effort in ourselves, sometimes of disappointment.  Yet as we look up to the cross of Christ he has gone there before us and we find strength and comfort.  We then become harbingers of hope for the people whom we serve. 

I want to take this opportunity of thanking you all for the great pastoral work that you do, for your great assistance to bishops and for the immeasurable support which you give to justice, truth, honestly and goodness in the Church.  Ultimately, the end of canon law work is that through Jesus the world might be saved.

Today’s feast is an appropriate moment for us to rededicate ourselves to the work for which we have been chosen, to thank God for the light and help he provides, but also as I in my life thank God for great men like Bishop Joe O’Connell and Father Frank Harman (and you will have your own lists), we may remember above all that the practice of Canon Law is one of the great pastoral works of the Church, one in which you as truly gifted people are involved, for which I, as Archbishop, thank you most sincerely and commend you to that love which the Lord has continually shown us most of all from the cross which is our salvation, light and resurrection.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Mass for the dedication of the chapel altar, Bourke Hall, Kew



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with Father Tom Renshaw, with your Head of Campus at Burke Hall, Mr. Peter Cooper, with staff members and so many friends, as we dedicate this altar to the permanent service of God.

The Chapel itself and the altar behind have been already consecrated.  However, with the reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council, permitting Mass to be celebrated facing the people, this altar is now permanently installed.

After the blessing and sprinkling of water Mass will continue until after the Profession of Faith when the Rite of Dedication will take place.


Dear Friends,

We have come to dedicate this altar because in the Catholic tradition each altar is set apart particularly for God.  After Jesus instituted the Eucharist in which the elements of bread and wine are separated pointing to his death next day, Jesus then went to the cross which became an altar where he offered himself to save us. 

At the Last Supper Jesus had instructed his disciples to do what he did in memory of him.  Hence we have the tradition of celebrating the Eucharist upon an altar set apart for God, which makes present what Jesus did on Calvary and renews the work of our redemption.  In a Church’s understand the altar is therefore a table of sacrifice and also the place of the paschal meal when he gives his Body and Blood to us in Holy Communion. 

Just as Jesus made the cross holy when he died upon it, so each altar has to be set apart because Christ is saving us by the action which takes place there.  This will help us to understand the ceremonies that take place.

Already the altar has been sprinkled with holy water and in a few moments, after we profess our faith, in continuity with Christ and all that he taught, we pray the Litany of the Saints, remembering that we are one with all the servants of Jesus Christ in heaven and on earth, asking the saints in heaven to pray for us as we undertake this solemn ritual.

Then following the tradition of the early Church small pieces of bones of martyrs, called relics, are placed beneath the altar to show continuity with the faith for which they died and with the way in which Mass was celebrated in the Catacombs.  After the relics are sealed I will pray the prayer of dedication, which recalls the use of altars in the Old Testament, the importance of the altar now as a sign of Christ, a place of joy, a place of communion, unity and friendship, a place of praise and thanksgiving.

Next the altar is anointed as we are anointed in Confirmation and Ordination.  The altar is incensed to show that from it our prayer goes up to God and then the altar is clothed and candles are lit upon it.

I invite you to listen reflectively and to participate in this wonderful moment.  It is a sign of great achievement and beauty by builders and craftsmen and I wish to pay tribute to the authorities of Xavier College who have wanted to prepare this altar in permanent form.  It is a moment of blessing and grace for us all when we remember the goodness of our God who is always near to us.

+ Denis J. Hart,