Friends of God

January is a great time to think about the relationships, habits and activities we want to nurture and prioritise in the coming year. As Pope Francis calls us to a Year of Prayer in preparation for the Jubilee Year in 2025—the theme of which is ‘Pilgrims of Hope’—we share stories to inspire and encourage us on our journey into the new year.

Deep friendship with God has motivated and animated the faith of Sr Mary Sarah Galbraith throughout her 33 years as a Dominican Sister of St Cecilia. As students return to school this week, this gifted educator and school principal shares with us the lovely story of her vocation and some of the insights she’s gained from her ongoing ‘conversation' with St Thomas Aquinas.

To mark the beginning of the Year of Prayer, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recently recorded a video message in Rome, in which he reflects on the value of prayer and suggests some simple but powerful ways to pray for ourselves, our Church and our world in the coming year.

In the lead-up to Word of God Sunday, we offer three ideas to help you experience the Word of God anew in 2024, and we hear about the inspiring portrait exhibition Great Women of Faith, which will be coming to St Patrick’s Cathedral in March.

You can find lots more stories below on what’s been happening in the Archdiocese of Melbourne and beyond, or you can visit the Melbourne Catholic news and stories page or follow us on Facebook. To connect with people and events across the Archdiocese, check out our events page for what’s coming up soon.

Sr Mary Sarah Galbraith: ‘You can be a friend of God’
Sr Mary Sarah Galbraith is a Dominican Sister of St Cecilia and the local superior of the Dominican Sisters in Bacchus Marsh. Over more than 33 years as a religious sister, she has experienced the joy and the adventure of living as a friend of God. ‘If you have a friend with you, it doesn’t matter where you’re going or who you’re going to be with or what you’re going to be asked to do,’ she says. ‘Your friend is with you, and it’s going to be great.’
Archbishop Comensoli on how to enter into the Year of Prayer
To prepare for the 2025 Jubilee Year, the Holy Father has called for a Year of Prayer, a time of ‘rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer, prayer in personal life, in the life of the Church, prayer in the world’. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, who was recently in Rome, has recorded a special message for the local church of Melbourne in which he suggests three simple prayers to help us enter into this time of preparation.
Three ways to experience the Word of God anew in 2024
Every celebration of Word of God Sunday (observed in Australia on the first Sunday of February) is an opportunity to reflect on what room we make in our lives for the Bible. We take a look at three ways to enrich our experience of the Word of God in 2024.
Seeking the ‘divine Advocate’: the Red Mass
Every year at St Patrick’s Cathedral, a tradition dating back to the late Middle Ages comes to life again. The Red Mass is an opportunity for lawyers and lawmakers, judges and other advocates of the law to come together and begin the legal year by seeking the assistance of the ‘divine Advocate’, the Holy Spirit.
NCPR releases findings on ‘social profile’ of Catholicism in Australia
The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) has released its findings on the ‘social profile’ of Catholicism in Australia, offering a national profile, diocesan profiles, and individual profiles of 1,230 parishes. The findings draw on data from the 2021 Australian Census with the aim of offering parishes valuable information about their local settings. ‘It will be a valuable tool to help parishes understand their local communities,’ said Professor Gabrielle McMullen, chair of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research. ‘It is important that parish leaders have the latest information, so they can assess the pastoral needs of people and then plan the best way to meet those needs.’
‘Great Women of Faith’ exhibition coming to Melbourne this March
A groundbreaking portrait exhibition entitled ‘Great Women of Faith’ by Polish artist Barbara Skorupa will soon be travelling to Melbourne. From 1 to 10 March, St Patrick's Cathedral will host a series of pop art–style portraits of holy women, including St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, St Thérèse of Lisieux, St Josephine Bakhita and more.
‘It was either a bullet or a reason’: Dan Burke’s quest for truth
Dan Burke, a former president of EWTN News, is co-founder of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. He was recently in Melbourne to promote his latest book, ‘Into the Deep: Finding Peace Through Prayer’, and spoke with us about his journey from Judaism to Christianity and about the transformational power of prayer.
‘Viva Pit Señor!’ Locals celebrate annual Feast of Santo Niño
Throughout January, several parishes around Melbourne marked the annual feast of the Child Jesus—the Santo Niño—a tradition that dates back more than 500 years and finds its origins in the Philippines. It’s a beautiful devotion that continues today thanks to Filipinos who now call Australia home, including those at St Andrew’s Parish in Clayton South.
‘I’ve always been drawn to this thought that you can be a friend of God ... If you have a friend with you, it doesn’t matter where you’re going or who you’re going to be with or what you’re going to be asked to do. Your friend is with you, and it’s going to be great.’
Sr Mary Sarah Galbraith OP
on the peace and confidence that comes with living as a friend of God
Upcoming events
Feast of Santo Niño & Sinulog festival, St James the Apostle, Hoppers Crossing
Sunday 4 February 2024
10.30am–12.30pm
The Sinulog festival is a growing devotion that gathers the Filipino and wider community across Victoria to celebrate the Feast of the Infant Jesus every year. It is a lively event that includes a Sinulog traditional dance procession, followed by the special blessing of Santo Niño statues, and a later...
Theology @ the Pub: ‘I hate Lent but I’ll do it anyway’ with Fr Michael Buck
Monday 5 February 2024
6.00pm–8.30pm
Fr Michael is Chaplain to ACU’s St Patrick’s campus in Melbourne and a lecturer in systematic theology at Catholic Theological College. He obtained a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and then completed the Licentiate in Sacred Theology and Patristic Sciences (STL) at the...
Six30 Holy Hour at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Thursday 29 February 2024 6.30pm –7.30pm
Join with young Catholics from across the city for a time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, music and an opportunity for confession. For more information, email udisciple@cam.org.au or call 9926 5677.
Order of Malta Lourdes Day Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Saturday 10 February 2024
10.30am–11.30am
The Order of Malta invites you to the annual Lourdes Day Mass—an opportunity to pray for the sick and infirm, particularly those who would not otherwise have the possibility of visiting Lourdes.The Mass will take place at St Patrick’s Cathedral, with Archbishop Peter A Comensoli as the principal celebrant. For...
‘Encounters 2024: A voice, Lent to music’, St Mary of the Angels, Geelong
Sunday 3 March 2024
– Sunday 17 March 2024
Over five Sundays from 11 February to 17 March, St Mary of the Angels, Geelong, presents Encounters 2024: A voice, Lent to music. Join Frank De Rosso (organ) and associate artists in a journey of music and poetry, leading up to Easter. Sundays 5–5.30pm at the basilica: Sunday 11 February—Brighid...
Good and Beer: ‘Catholicism at the movies’
Monday 12 February 2024
6.30pm–8.30pm
Join God and Beer on their first event of the year! Jeremy Ambrose, pastoral associate for staff at Australian Catholic University’s Melbourne campus, will walk you through some of the great films where art and evangelisation have come together on the silver screen. Jeremy is passionate about the arts, especially...
Ash Wednesday at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Wednesday 14 February 2024
(All day event)
Join us at St Patrick’s Cathedral on 14 February to mark the beginning of Lent at one of three Ash Wednesday Masses: 7am 1pm 5.30pm For more information, email Communications or call the Cathedral on 9662 2233. Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Project Compassion 2024
Wednesday 14 February 2024
– Thursday 28 March 2024
Spanning the six weeks of Lent each year, Project Compassion brings thousands of Australian schools, parishes and supporters together to raise funds for people living in some of the most vulnerable communities across the world. Your generous support can help change lives today—and For All Future Generations. To read Project...
Searching for God in a secular age: a conversation with Monsignor Tomáš Halík
Thursday 15 February 2024
5.00pm–6.00pm
The next speaker at the Helder Camara lecture series—now in its 39th year—will be renowned public intellectual, philosopher, sociologist, best-selling author and 'underground priest' Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halík. Monsignor Halík converted to Catholicism as an adult and was secretly ordained a priest in 1978 during the communist rule of then-Czechoslovakia...
Cathedral grand organ recital featuring Thomas Heywood
Friday 16 February 2024
6.00pm–7.00pm
Internationally renowned Australian organ virtuoso Thomas Heywood returns to St Patrick’s Cathedral to open the 2024 Concert Series. In a thrilling program where ‘Beethoven meets the Dubois centenary’, Heywood plays his transcriptions of two famous Beethoven orchestral overtures to Egmont and Coriolan, as well as the rousing last movement of...
Australian Catholic Students Association leadership retreat
Friday 16 February 2024
– Sunday 18 February 2024
Leading Catholic young adults in 2024? Looking for faith-based strategies to engage your peers? Join the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) leadership retreat to be held over three days from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 February. Come and be equipped to bring your peers to Christ through the Church. Bring...
Rite of Election 2024 at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Sunday 18 February 2024
3.00pm–4.00pm
The Rite of Election is a significant occasion in the life of our local church in Melbourne. It marks the beginning of our catechumens and candidates’ final preparations to receive the sacraments of initiation. Join Archbishop Peter A Comensoli and the Proclaim team at the Rite of Election for 2024...
Catholic Social Services National Conference, Melbourne
Wednesday 21 February 2024
– Friday 23 February 2024
All those who work, volunteer or have an interest in Catholic community services and social justice are invited to attend the Catholic Social Services National Conference 2024: Commons, Commonality, Common Good, which will be held at the Catholic Leadership Centre over three days from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 February...

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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