We belong to a big Church which is focused on the parish and which gathers often as a diocese with Bishop Bill, to celebrate our amazing diversity. Through joining in these gatherings we support each other and are nourished and expanded by liturgies filled to overflowing with faith, hope and love.
These liturgies are wonderful opportunities for those who are on the journey of initiation – whether children or adults – and who are learning from the rest of us our Catholic way of life and worship. So don’t miss the opportunity this rich feast of liturgical celebrations offers our catechumens, candidates and young families, to experience not only different styles of Catholic liturgy but also our big diocesan Church.
They are opportunities not only for those formally on the journey of initiation, but also for anyone you know who is seeking, wondering and questioning. They may be in our school communities, our workplaces and our circles of acquaintances. Who do you know who might respond positively to an invitation to accompany you to one of these liturgies? Who knows where such an invitation may lead?
The liturgical feast runs as follows:
- Called to Serve Mass: Tuesday February 11 at 6.30pm in the Cathedral. This is the annual gathering of all staff in our Catholic Schools to celebrate their call to serve in the ministry of Catholic Education. It includes the presentation of awards for service, mass and then supper.
- Ordination of Graham Fullick: Saturday Feb 22 at 10.00am in the Cathedral.
- Launch of Project Compassion: Tuesday Feb 25 at 10.30am in the Cathedral.
- The Rite of Election: Sunday March 1, 2.30pm in the Cathedral. At this is the liturgy catechumens who have discerned the desire for baptism are presented to Bishop Bill and join the Order of the Elect for the final intensive preparation for baptism at Easter.
- Bishop’s Awards Presentation: Friday March 6 at 6.00pm at St. John’s Chapel Maitland. This is a celebration of the ministry of young people in the Church.
- Catechist Mass: Saturday March 21 at 2.00pm in the Cathedral.
- The Way of the Cross: Sunday March 29, 3.00pm at Kilaben Bay. While this is not a liturgy, this pilgrimage through the Stations of the Cross in parish grounds at Kilaben Bay is one of our central devotions, especially during Lent.
- Chrism Mass: Tuesday April 7 at the Cathedral at 7.00pm. If you want to experience big faith filled Catholic Liturgy … don’t miss this.
On all these occasions it is wonderful when the Cathedral is full, so those we gather to acknowledge in some way, can in fact, see and feel the love and support of the community gathered in Christ and seeking to become more a part of Christ.
As an encounter with Christ, liturgy is always an invitation to reflect deeply on life. Such reflection is essential to Christian life and is at the heart of the initiation process whether focused on young children and their families, or adults. We call this Mystagogical Reflection and the Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults is our guide in this. Those more directly engaged in the ministry of Initiation will be familiar with the following process of mystagogical reflection. I recommend it to everyone – prayer groups, teams and councils, friends, ministry groups – as a way to reflect on any experience.
i) Event: An encounter with God – in this case in the celebration of liturgy
ii) Recollection: What do you remember from the liturgy? What happened
iii) Reflection: What was most engaging? Unsettling? Surprising?
iv) Catechesis: What are we learning? What does it mean? What connections do you see to Scripture and our Tradition? For example, from the list of liturgies above: about the ministry of Catholic Education, about mission and outreach, about ordained ministry …
v) Connection: How does it connect to my/our life as disciples and members of the Church?
vi) Conversion: To what change is this prompting you? How will you live differently as a result of what God has revealed in this experience?
In the interests of transparency I must confess that I still have a dream for a full Cathedral for The Rite of Election. When those elected for baptism this Easter go into the sanctuary to sign the Book of the Elect with Bishop Bill, I hope that they will look out on a sea of faces, all there to celebrate this step with them and pray for them.
Bishop Bill also has a dream that the Launch of Project Compassion will be a celebration of the whole Church. The schools are wonderful; they are always there. This year we hope to see more people from parishes and other groups and agencies at this liturgy, as together we commit ourselves as a whole Church to Caritas’ Compassion Project. It’s a great way to prepare for Lent.
We look forward to seeing you at as many of these liturgies as you can make. Try to bring a busload. We have a lot to celebrate and it is good to be together.