Prior to Mass, the cathedral was abuzz with the bright voices of children and young people from the 56 diocesan schools enjoying themselves and socialising with each other and their teachers. A hush fell over the cathedral, as a soft chord indicated the beginning of the Acknowledgement of Country.
Director of Schools, Ray Collins, addressed the congregation. He spoke of the importance of community, as a place where everyone is welcome and can belong, no matter where they come from.
“As a community, we must reach out with a sense of compassion to those fleeing from violence and war,” Mr Collins said.
He also mentioned the celebration of the 150 year anniversary of the diocese, and how Catholic schools have played an important role in the development of the diocese as a whole.
Bishop Bill, in his homily, spoke of the sense of alienation which is so often felt by those less fortunate or marginalised.
“The paralytic in today’s Gospel said to Jesus, ‘I have no one to help me’, he was alone, but Jesus didn’t ignore him, but helped him, and healed him,” Bishop Bill said.
He also asked the question − what it is it to belong? − challenging the students to think about the conventional levels of belonging − to friends, family, and local communities − but also to delve deeper into the beliefs of the church, and the most basic level of belonging, which is to God.
“We belong to God, he will not let us go. We can leave him, like the prodigal son left his father in Sunday’s gospel, but God will always wait for us, and welcome us back,” said Bishop Bill.
Through this belonging to God we are then challenged in our faith to reach out to others as Jesus did, looking at them as a person filled with human dignity, whether they are rich, or sinners.
“To understand our commitment to God, we must adopt Jesus’ eyes in the world, to see everyone as Jesus did,” said Bishop Bill.
The sentiment of the Mass can be expressed in the first line of the opening hymn. “We are one Body… in Christ, and we do not stand alone.”
At the end of the Mass, student leaders from each of the diocese’s secondary Catholic schools were invited to meet with Bishop Bill Wright and members of the Catholic Schools Council. The students spoke to the Bishop about what they value most about their Catholic school, their faith and relationship with their parish community, the challenges they may face and also about the unique role Catholic education plays in their life.
This was the eighth meeting of senior school leaders the Council has initiated since its formation and is part of the Council’s consultation with key stakeholders to gain valuable feedback each year about Catholic education.
A full gallery of photos from the Catholic Schools Week Mass will be posted on the Catholic Schools Office website by Friday. Please visit www.mn.catholic.edu.au