As the readers of this message know, my sitting on a Sunday night to scribe, usually provides me with a time of reflection for the week that has passed, and the one to come. As I listened to the Gospel of John (21:1-19) being proclaimed tonight at the Cathedral, I was struck by Jesus calling his disciples ‘children’.

Other versions of the same reading call them ‘friends’. Both words are terms of endearment, but the term ‘children’ indicates to me a higher level of care and responsibility.

However, for this week’s message I want to focus on the last two words of the Gospel – ‘Follow me’.

During the week I have been with many people, who, I believe, have chosen to follow Jesus, and I thought I would share with you these many experiences:

  • The Diocesan Leadership Group meeting
  • The Faith Formation Council meeting
  • A Social Justice program being run by the Broken Bay Institute (BBI)
  • The Parish Leadership Day
  • The Hunter Community Alliance Leaders Interim Council meeting
  • The Parish Leaders and Principals Dinner
  • The Parish Leaders and Principals Day
  • The meeting of the Diocesan Council of Ministry with Young People
  • The Synod on Synodality Writing Day
  • An Aid Concert for Ukraine at Christ Church Cathedral
  • The Commissioning Mass for the Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Team for All Saints Parish, Blackbutt South
  • Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday evening
  • Working at the diocesan offices each day

This means I have encountered hundreds of people during this week who have ‘shared a meal with Jesus on the beach’ and are making real his command to Peter:

  • Feed my lambs
  • Look after my sheep
  • Feed my sheep

While our call to follow Jesus was evident to me in all the settings in which I had the privilege to find myself during the week, none was more so than the Aid Concert for Ukraine. Christ Church Cathedral was packed with people united in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. I am unable to describe the feeling of unity and desire for a peaceful solution to the unbelievable violence we are presently witnessing. Tears were shed as we stood for the National Anthem of Ukraine, listened to the creative gifts of musicians and especially an original composition, Prayer for Ukraine, played on piano by Andrew Chubb. 

So many wonderful people doing so much to make real the Kingdom of God in this time and place. So, upon hearing the following words from the book of Apocalypse proclaimed, ‘The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing’, I was left sensing that we just have our prayer and goodwill to continue to bless the world with God’s love and grace.

And so now, I invite you on a prayer pilgrimage. Catholics across the country are being invited to participate in a prayer pilgrimage as the Church journeys towards the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

The “Walking in the Spirit” pilgrimage has been prepared to encourage individuals, families, parishes, schools and other ministries to keep the Plenary Council in their prayers.

The pilgrimage started on Easter Sunday, April 17, and leads up to the opening of the second – and final – assembly on Sunday, July 3.

Here is the link to the resources for you and your parishes to make this prayerful journey: Walk in the Spirit

I finish my message, on this first day of May, recognising the month of Mary and sharing with you this Plenary Council Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians:

Our Lady, Help of Christians
Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin, Help of Christians,
we place ourselves under your motherly protection.
Throughout the Church's history,
you have helped Christians in times of trial, temptation and danger.
Time and time again, you have proven to be the Refuge of sinners,
the Hope of the hopeless,
the Consoler of the afflicted,
and the Comforter of the dying.
We promise to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, your Son,
to proclaim His Good News of God's love for all people,
and to work for peace and justice in our world.
With faith in your intercession,
we pray for the Church,
especially the Church in Australia as we prepare for
the Second Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.
We also pray
for our family and friends,
for the poor and abandoned,
and for all the dying.
Grant, O Mary, Help of Christians,
the graces of which we stand in need. (Mention your intentions.)
May we serve Jesus with fidelity and love until death.
Help us and our loved ones to attain the boundless joy
of being forever with our Father in heaven.

Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!

Adapted from the Prayer by the Discalced Carmelite Friars, Holy Hill, Hubertus, WI 53033


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Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.