An invitation to holiness

So many significant influencers and shapers of the Christian faith have been women.

To celebrate just some of them, the ‘Great Women of Faith’ exhibition has officially opened at St Patrick’s Cathedral, featuring striking portraits by Cologne-based artist Barbara Skorupa that are ‘an invitation to holiness’ for all of us. Sts Perpetua and Felicity—also remarkable women of faith—are traditionally commemorated on 7 March. We take a look at the story of these courageous women and its enduring meaning. And VMCH resident 101-year-old Mavis Kohler reflects on how far women have come since her birth in 1923.

Also this week, a recent performance by the Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir inspires Fr Nicholas Dillon to reflect on his own experiences of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and why what we build matters. We hear about a couple of the poets who will feature in an upcoming series of talks on ‘Poets and the Faith’ and explore the ways that poetry ‘refreshes our language. Graduate theology student James Harris shares how ACU’s Clemente program has helped him to see himself in a new light, despite his mental health struggles. And some important anniversaries for St Thomas Aquinas prompt Fr Paul Rowse OP to reflect on what ‘our brother’ St Thomas means to Dominicans and what he can show all of us today.

Finally, following the 160th anniversary of his birth, we look back to a moment in New York in 1920 when Archbishop Daniel Mannix’s forthright style and passionate commitment to the underdog attracted so much global attention that even baseball great Babe Ruth took notice.

For more news and events, visit the Melbourne Catholic news and stories page or our events calendar, or follow us on Facebook.

‘An invitation to our own holiness’: Great Women of Faith exhibition opens in Melbourne
A unique exhibition showcasing women of faith has officially opened at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, with 24 pop-art portraits by Cologne-based artist Barbara Skorupa on display from 1 to 10 March. The exhibition features the faces of 24 women from around the world—some saints, some not—who have lived lives of faith and made significant contributions in the areas of medicine, health and education.
To step on the head of the dragon: Sts Perpetua and Felicity for today
The commemoration of Sts Perpetua and Felicity—some of the oldest saints in the calendar—generally falls during Lent, so their liturgical celebration often takes a back seat. To help remember these great saints, regularly invoked in the first eucharistic prayer of the Mass, we take a look at their story and what we can learn from them today.
International Women’s Day: centenarian Mavis reflects how far we’ve come
Written by: VMCH
When Mavis Kohler was born in 1923, women were not allowed to drink in public bars, stand for federal elections, or work in public-service jobs once they married. Looking back on her 101 years, VMCH resident Mavis reflects on how far we’ve come. With women making up 71 per cent of VMCH’s aged care residents, 79 per cent of its workforce and 77 per cent of its volunteers, International Women’s Day—an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women—is an important date on the calendar of the aged and disability organisation.
Notre-Dame de Paris: the junction between faith and the arts
Written by: Fr Nicholas Dillon
Art, architecture and music have the power to move hearts and minds, and are vital tools in the work of evangelisation. Fr Nicholas Dillon, parish priest of St Philip’s in Blackburn North and a classically trained musician, recently attended the concert ‘Notre-Dame—A story of ritual, resolution and resurrection’ by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir. The innovative production not only explored the important place that the Notre-Dame Cathedral occupies in the hearts of the French (whether believers or not) but also why what we build matters, since ‘our architectural and artistic efforts help people to find a home’.
Refreshing the language of faith: the value of engaging with Christian poets
Throughout 2024, St Peter’s Anglican Church Eastern Hill will be hosting a series of free, monthly talks on ‘significant poets who have inhabited—or skirted the fringes of—the Anglican and Catholic traditions of Christianity’. We speak with two of the speakers about the poetry of Jesuit poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and Peter Steele, and about the ways poetry can engage and deepen our faith.
Take me out to the ball game: Archbishop Mannix in New York
This year, on 4 March, we marked the 160th anniversary of the birth of Archbishop Daniel Mannix, the Irish-born Archbishop of Melbourne whose forthright style and passionate commitment to the underdog made an indelible mark not only on the life of our Archdiocese and the broader Australian religious and political landscape, but also on the world stage. We look back to a moment in New York in 1920 when even baseball great Babe Ruth took notice.
Theology student James Harris: ACU’s Clemente program ‘helped me to see who I am’
James Harris says that when you’ve struggled with the challenges he’s faced in life, ‘you get used to people writing you off’. But with the help of the Clemente program at ACU—a bridging course that provides crucial support to people who might otherwise struggle in a university environment—James has now earnt his bachelor of theology degree at ACU and is enrolled in his masters. He gives a lot of the credit to his mentor Gerard and to ACU, because ‘they helped me to see who I am.’
Our brother Thomas: Fr Paul Rowse OP on living alongside St Thomas Aquinas
Over three years—2023, 2024 and 2025—we are marking a trio of important anniversaries for St Thomas Aquinas, marking his canonisation, death and birth. In this interview, Fr Paul Rowse OP, parish priest at St Dominic’s Camberwell East, reflects on ‘our brother’ Thomas, what the great Italian saint has meant to him personally, and why he became so popular within the Catholic Church.
‘The artistic process can sometimes take months. It’s something like icon-writing—it takes a long time with a lot of thought.’
Artist Barbara Skorupa
on the care and thoughtfulness she brought to the process of painting the great women of faith
Upcoming events
Meet the Artist: Barbara Skorupa and the Great Women of Faith
Wednesday 6 March 2024
4.00pm–5.00pm
The Great Women of Faith portrait exhibition will be on display at St Patrick’s Cathedral from 1 to 10 March. At this afternoon session, the artist Barbara Skorupa will be interviewed by Professor Emeritus Gabrielle McMullen AM, followed by a Q&A session. The conversation will include discussion of Barbara’s method...
Great Women of Faith: Portrait exhibition by Barbara Skorupa
Friday 1 March 2024, 9.00am
– Sunday 10 March 2024, 4.00pm
This unique exhibition in St Patrick's Cathedral will feature 24 beautiful portraits of extraordinary women of faith by Cologne-based artist Barbara Skorupa. The portraits have been selected from the artist's collection of more than 100 paintings of extraordinary women from different cultures and eras, including Australians St Mary of the...
The Music of Hildegard of Bingen by Soprano Stella Horvath
Sunday 10 March 2024
3.00pm–4.00pm
To mark the last day of the Great Women of Faith exhibition, visitors to St Patrick's Cathedral will be treated to the sounds of 12th-century Rhineland mystic, poet, playwright, musician, visionary and scientist Hildegard of Bingen, sung by Melbourne-born soprano Stella Horvath. Hildegard is famous for her musical compositions, which...
Catholic Education Week 2024
Sunday 10 March 2024
– Sunday 17 March 2024
Catholic Education Week is an opportunity for all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne to celebrate their Catholic identity, the pivotal role they play within their local community and the strength of the sector. The theme for Catholic Education Week 2024 is ‘In the light of Christ’. Drawn from...
‘Poets and the Faith: Gerard Manley Hopkins’, presented by Prof Dorothy Lee
Tuesday 12 March 2024
6.00pm–7.30pm
St Peter's Eastern Hill is hosting a series of talks about significant poets who have inhabited—or skirted the fringes—of the Anglican and Catholic traditions of Christianity.From Gerard Manley Hopkins to RS Thomas, from Emily Brontë to WH Auden, how did their poetry enrich and challenge their understanding of the faith...
‘AI x Christianity: Gospel Wisdom for an AI World’
Saturday 16 March 2024
7.00pm–9.15pm
Artificial intelligence is changing the world. How can the Bible guide our understanding of this evolving landscape? Be equipped to engage with AI at ‘AI x Christianity: Gospel Wisdom for an AI World’ on 16 March 2024. Across two hours, three speakers, and a discussion panel, this ambitious event will...
Lenten meditation on the cross, St Dominic’s
Sunday 17 March 2024
3.00pm–4.00pm
A meditation on the cross with polyphony will be presented by the Melbourne Octet and broadcast live by Radio Maria. The veiling of the Cross will take place during the hour of music, prayers and readings. Featuring compositions by Gesualdo, Duruflé, Pärt, Tallis, Casals, Rautavaara, Lajos and Purcell. For more...
The Patrick Oration 2024
Monday 18 March 2024
7.30pm–8.30pm
Join us on the feast day of St Patrick, the patron saint of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, for the fifth annual Patrick Oration to be delivered by the Most Rev Peter A Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne. Watch the live broadcast on TV or online: On TV via C31 (digital...
Encounter Evening, Hoppers Crossing
Sunday 24 March 2024
5.00pm–8.00pm
This unforgettable evening is tailor-made for high-school students, offering a unique opportunity to encounter Jesus with prayer, fellowship, food and, of course, a whole lot of fun. Let this Encounter Evening mark a significant step in your spiritual journey—a night filled with encountering Jesus that promises to leave a lasting...
Holy Week and Easter at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Sunday 24 March 2024, 11.00am
– Sunday 31 March 2024, 8.00pm
All are welcome to St Patrick’s Cathedral for this year’s Holy Week and Easter liturgies, some of which will be broadcast to TV and livestreamed for those unable to attend: Palm Sunday (24 March): 11am*Holy Thursday (28 March): 7.30pm* (please note: ‘The Watch’ will continue via our Archdiocesan YouTube channel)Good...

To learn more about upcoming events and opportunities, visit the Melbourne Catholic events page.

This newsletter is published by the Communications Office
of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

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