The liturgy commenced with a Welcome to Country and a wonderfully inclusive introduction to the work of Caritas Australia with the help of the choir and some much-loved songs.
“Caritas is the word for God’s love. That’s why we say it means ‘love and compassion’. And that’s why every year in Lent, Caritas has a project named ‘compassion’,” said Patricia Banister, a member of the diocesan Caritas team.
The liturgy continued with music, song and the Gospel of the good Samaritan to explain the theme of this year’s Project Compassion ‘Love Your Neighbour’.
A highlight of the liturgy was a drama reflection prepared by ASPIRE director, Anna Kerrigan, and some ASPIRE students.
Bishop Bill reminded the assembly that “St Paul never met Jesus, never saw him in action as it were.
He never read the gospel that we heard [yet] Paul came to the conclusion that God loved everyone….and so St Paul could write that what shows God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Without the gospel Paul could already see what it meant. We have the gospel, we know the story.
Sometimes when Jesus is asked a question, he doesn’t answer, he tells a story….today, a story about a foreign enemy who was good to a Jew.
‘Why is my neighbour?’ is the wrong question!
As Jesus people we can’t be asking ‘Who is my neighbour? Who’s on my side?’
Lent is almost like pre-season training … giving up some pleasure, whether it’s a Mars bar or watching “Married at First Sight”!
Project Compassion enables us to live our Christian faith, our Lent, a little more intensely.
I thank you on behalf of those whom you will never know.”
During the Prayer of the Faithful, members of the Filipino, Timorese, Indigenous, Vietnamese and Fijian communities in our region processed to the altar as living testament to our call to stand in solidarity with our neighbours. Representatives prayed a prayer in their native language. It was a powerful moment ending with the Aboriginal translation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Bishop Bill implored those present to make it their mission during Lent to contemplate their relationship with God, pray for others, engage with the stories of Project Compassion, meet their neighbours, give as generously as they are able and fast from the things in their life that block relationships.
“Be creative about how you engage with Project Compassion so your community is known for the way you love your neighbour,” said Bishop Bill.
Representatives from parishes and schools were then called forward to receive their Project Compassion boxes.
Since the launch took place on Shrove Tuesday all were invited to enjoy pancakes and ice cream at the Southern Cross Hall at the conclusion of the liturgy.
The work of Caritas is shaped by the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching – the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and participation, solidarity, preferential option for the poor, economic justice, the stewardship of creation and the promotion of peace.