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Mass for the Staff and Students of the Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre

Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at Catholic Theological College
on Friday, 17th May, 2002, at 7.30pm

Introduction

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with you to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the sign of our unity in faith and worship and our sharing in the mission of the Church to teach the message of Jesus to all people.

In paying tribute to your staff and students I remember with gratitude the contribution of the Centre over many years, the skill and zeal of staff, the faith-filled witness of students.

As we come into the presence of God, let us ask him that we may be transformed into gentle but ardent witnesses of the Gospel.

Homily

"I am with you always to the close of the age."
(Matthew 28:20)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For two thousand years the reassurance of the constant presence of Christ is an inspiration to his followers. Our words and deeds assume a new value because of the Risen Lord's presence among us. This is particularly true in the Eucharist, which is the source of all that we do in the Church and the inspiration and power given to each of us to proclaim his name.

The Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre has made a remarkable effect upon our Archdiocese. The great majority of parishes have gifted lay leaders who have been trained here. Talented staff have often forsaken attractive professional careers to give their extraordinary skills to the service of preparing people for a deeper recognition of their gifts in service of the people of God. I do congratulate you on all you do. I rejoice when I visit parishes and find the fruit of all that has been done here. This is not only in the past, but also in the present.

You as students inspire me by your desire for authentic questing truth and careful preparation for service. Among your students I note the faith-filled example of religious and the sacrifices made by married and single people to participate in courses. It is significant to me that all of this takes place in the Thomas Carr Centre, named after an archbishop who fought prominently for the value of education in the faith and which is now shared by the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family, Catholic Theological College and our own Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre.

The Church faces remarkable challenges at present. The secular society seeks to marginalise us. There are even greater opportunities for social service. There is a deeper need in our parishes for skilled people to reach out in social work, teaching, service and instructing people in prayer, the Sacraments, the Scriptures, living the way of Jesus Christ in an aggressive modern society. In addition, lay pastoral workers assist in preparation for Sacraments, provide compassion to the bereaved, support to families … the list could go on.

Pope John Paul has made Novo Millennio Ineunte the blueprint for the New Millennium. He lays down the foundation of what we, as adult Catholics preparing for leadership, need to have -
  1. the plan is to have its centre in Christ, who is to be known, loved and imitated,
  2. everything is to be measured in relation to holiness,
  3. our vision is of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, resting upon Peter and the Apostles, the Pope and the Bishops, in a unity of worship, teaching and service.
This provides the context for all that we do.

Formation in Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre has to be underpinned by this understanding of the Church, by a new mentality which approaches the ancient tradition (ever-ancient and ever-new) and to propose wholeheartedly to everyone the highest standards of Christian living and training in holiness, discovery of the art of prayer, the importance of the Mass and sacramental life, the formation provided by the Word of God, to promote a spirituality of communion with each other regarding them "as those who are part of me". My priorities for lay leadership are above all a right understanding of the Church, an adequate formation in the theology, a ministry that will draw people into the specifically Catholic unity of the Universal Church with love, loyalty and hope, to see other disciplines, such as psychology, social teaching, as serving the mission and theology of the Church in a subsidiary way.

It is an exciting time. I am considering how C.P.F.C. can best serve the Church in our time, enabling us to face the specific challenges of the time in which we live. The Holy Father has invited us to a more vibrant proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ. This must surely begin with vibrant and dynamic formation here at C.P.F.C. and in coming months I look forward to some exciting possibilities being offered to enrich leaders and parishioners through the development of some new courses.

Thank you for your sharing in the work of the Church, your enthusiasm for truth and for learning and for the gifts which you will use in God's service. I am grateful to your lecturers and to each one of you for sharing in what Peter himself saw when he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" and sought to proclaim in word and deed the faith that he had received.

 

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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