Mass for the dedication of the Mary MacKillop Chapel at ACU


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we come to the most significant act in the history of Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.  It is the dedication of this chapel in honour of Saint Mary MacKillop as a permanent place for the worship of God.
As I entered through the foyer and was touched by the beautiful image of Our Lady I came into this awe inspiring space with its high vaulting beautiful altar and sense of wonder to see something of the beauty of our God reaching down to people.

The dedication of churches must be almost as old as Christianity and follows on from the Jewish dedication of furniture and ornaments in the Book of Exodus, of Solomon’s temple in the First Book of Kings, the second temple in Ezra 6 and of the temple of Herod the Great.  We notice Jesus’ attendance at the Feast of Dedication in John, chapter 2, verse 22.
This dedication is so permanent that it will be observed on this day every year, reminding us that we are privileged to enter into this holy place; whether for a great liturgy or for silent prayer and contemplation, that God is near to the lives and activity of all students of this University, to its staff and leaders, that it may be truly a Catholic university in its activity, its learning and in the faith and love of God which underpin it so strongly.
Already we and the walls and the altar have been sprinkled with holy water, a reminder of our Baptism and the fact that this chapel is for those people who are consecrated to God in Baptism.  We have praised God in the Gloria and the Prayer and have listened to the Readings, which spell out God’s activity and nearness.
Now, nourished by the Word and after this time of reflection, we will profess our faith and then call upon all the saints of heaven in the Litany, so we know that earth and heaven are united in dedicating this place, setting it apart permanently as a place of beauty, holiness, fruitfulness and vision.  After the Litany relics of the Saint Francis Xavier and Blessed John Henry Newman are placed underneath the altar to show that we celebrate the Mass in continuity back to Christ, to the early Church where Mass was celebrated at the tombs of the martyrs and also showing that we are called by our lives to witness to God.  Then I will say the prayer of dedication to God, the source of true holiness and purpose, highlighting that the altar represents Christ, who died on the altar of the cross, who is present in an unbloody manner in our altar.
The chapel will be the place of Baptism, Eucharist, prayer and outreach for justice, truth and true freedom.
In a similar way that we were united in Baptism and Confirmation, the altar and the walls of the chapel are anointed and then a fire will be lit on the altar and incense placed in it and the altar and we will be incensed so that the fragrant perfume of incense going up to the ceiling will be a reminder of how our prayer goes to God.

Finally, when the altar is clothed the candles are lit on the altar and around the chapel to show us that Christ is the light of the world and that each of us as human beings is to show that light of Christ to others, our gifts are brought, the Eucharist continues and the permanent reservation of the Eucharist in the tabernacle begins after Holy Communion.
I congratulate all who have worked so hard on this chapel; the university authorities, Monsignor Charles Portelli, the artistic and liturgical consultant who has done a magnificent job to elevate our minds and hearts to this as a place of beauty, and to all who will use it that we may be uplifted to the wonder of God and strengthened in our academic, family and vocational life to give witness to the great God who loved us first and who in Jesus showed how true and permanent God’s love really is.
Mary MacKillop after whom the chapel is dedicated was a remarkable educator, one who suffered as Jesus suffered, and never lost sight of the vision of the needs of her people and her ability to respond to them.  May she, together with our Blessed Mother, accompany us with her prayers each time we come here to this holy place.  May it be a place of strength and challenge, of peace and comfort and of the living witness and presence of our ever-loving God.  May Jesus live in our hearts forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
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