Being in the right head-space and heart-space for Lent is really important. With Ash Wednesday around the corner, we look at the key to starting Lent right so that it can be a spiritually rich time for us. We've also put together a one-stop Q&A guide to Lent to answer all of your questions (including: are Sundays included?) about this season of grace. Joe Doolan shares five stories of forgiveness between friends, family and neighbours, challenging us to reflect on what it means to 'forgive our debtors' and become 'ambassadors of forgiveness'. And if you're looking for a spiritual book to read throughout Lent, we've lined up 25 recommendations for you.

Pope Francis has also declared Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting for peace in Ukraine. In Melbourne, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will celebrate the 1pm Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral with Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR, Eparch for Ukrainians in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania. The Mass will be livestreamed and broadcast to Community Channel C31 (channel 44 on digital TV).

This year marks a few anniversaries, including the recently celebrated centenary of the Knights of the Southern Cross at St Clement of Rome Parish in Bulleen. We also look at the 200th anniversary of Catholic Mission, an agency dedicated to supporting missionaries around the world – all thanks to the creative vision of laywoman and soon-to-be-saint Pauline Jaricot.

Finally, we speak with Vocations Director Fr Jerome Santamaria, who shares how his pursuit of further studies in law eventually led to a journey towards the priesthood. And we hear the wonderful story of Liam, whose experience of lockdown actually led him on a journey back to the Catholic faith.

Pope Francis: 'Day of Fasting for Peace' for Ukraine
Another urgent call has been made by Pope Francis for the Church to pray for the situation in Ukraine. At his general audience on Wednesday 23 February, he said that despite the efforts of world leaders, ‘increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up.’ The Pope has declared Ash Wednesday (2 March) to be a Day of Fasting for Peace. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will concelebrate the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral with Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR, Eparch for Ukrainians in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.
Celebrating a visionary: Catholic Mission's 200 years
2022 is a special year for Catholic Mission, since it marks the 200th year since Pauline Jaricot’s vision first came to life. It also marks the year of her beatification. We interview Diocesan Director Kevin Meese to get a glimpse into the work of Catholic Mission.
100 years of being a good neighbour: Knights celebrate centenary Mass
Members of the Knights of the Southern Cross Victoria (KSCV) gathered on Sunday 20 February for their centennial celebration at St Clement of Rome Parish in Bulleen. The Order is a national organisation of laymen who, guided by the Catholic faith, strive to serve the wider community and those in need through charitable works. In attendance on Sunday were Knights from across Victoria and interstate, in what was one of their first public gatherings since the beginning of the pandemic.
The key to starting Lent right
Lent is fast approaching, which means soon enough we’ll be hearing about nothing but deserts for forty days at Mass. A lot of people struggle with Lent – they struggle to make it a fruitful time, finding it to be a pointless forty days of giving up the same things they did last year. Maybe we jump out of the gate too soon. Maybe we launch into the practices that are supposed to take us deeper, but we haven’t laid the groundwork to ensure they do take us deeper. In which case, we need to do some heart-work first.
Lent: a guide for the perplexed
With Lent approaching once more, we thought it might be a good time to revisit and respond some of the questions that come up every year: What is Lent? Why do we observe it? What is penance, exactly? And, perhaps most importantly for some, are Sundays included? We also point you to some great resources to help you enter more fully into this sometimes challenging but always gracious season.
Five stories of forgiveness
In the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew) Jesus not only outlined the conditions for belonging to the kingdom of Heaven but also gave us the words to pray: the Our Father. As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, Joe Doolan explores five stories of forgiveness between friends, family and strangers. Each story challenges us to reflect on Christ’s call to ‘forgive our debtors’ and create new stories as “ambassadors of forgiveness”.
Continue reading: Five stories of forgiveness
We all have a role to play: Vocations Director Fr Jerome Santamaria
Vocations Director for the Catholic Archdiocese, Fr Jerome Santamaria, recounts his journey to the priesthood. Fr Jerome had been a lawyer in Melbourne when he decided to move to London to complete a masters in law, and applied to stay at the Catholic Chaplaincy Newman House in London. ‘After 20 minutes of chatting with the chaplain he asked me, “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that as no-one had ever asked me. I still hadn’t been given the keys to my room at that point!’
University students seek to share Jesus on campus
Uni students from across Melbourne gathered for the 2022 SEEK conference earlier in February to dive deeper into the Gospel and discover how they might answer Jesus’ call to relationship and discipleship. One student, Liam, shares his story of experiencing God’s love in lockdown and his hope that ‘people across all university campuses will feel the love of God as well!’
Deadline extended for local Synod of Bishops submissions
ICYMI: At the request of dioceses, the period for local submissions for the global Synod of Bishops process has been extended by two weeks, with responses now being received until March 13.
‘That whole idea of sending the Gospel or spreading the Gospel has progressed into an understanding that we don’t impose the Gospel, but we discover the Gospel together.’
Kevin Meese, Diocesan Director of Catholic Mission
On Catholic Mission’s style of evangelisation and mission
Upcoming Events
The Story Continues: An Introduction to Church History
Monday 28 February 2022
“The Story Continues” will offer an overview of the whole history of the Church, in all its lights and shadows. This unit will continue the story of God’s “salvation history” begun in the Scriptures, going beyond Pentecost to see what God has continued to do through his Son in the...
The Eucharist: the source and summit of Christian spirituality
Tuesday 1 March 2022
Rev. Dr Elio Capra will be leading a session on the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian spirituality. Hosted by the St Mary’s Greensborough Scripture Study Group, this session is open to all and will explore the meaning of the words and actions of the Eucharist, the links between...
LAMP: Love and Mental Peace with Sr Ros Cairns MSC
Thursday 3 March 2022
Hosted by St Mary's Greensborough, this session will focus on spirituality and mental health. Presented by Sr Ros Cairns MSC (a parishioner and semi-retired pastoral care worker), the session also includes a conversation with Rachel Garofolo who will share her lived experience. This is a follow up session but you...
Celebrity Organ Recital by Christopher Cook
Friday 4 March 2022
St Patrick's Cathedral is once again hosting a series of Friday night concerts, with the first concert featuring celebrated organist Christopher (Chris) Cook. Come and enjoy the beauty of St Patrick's Cathedral along with some classical music! Tickets are $25 and can be booked online or at the door. Children...
“Merciful Father” Online Lenten Conference
Saturday 5 March 2022
This Lent, the Little Sisters of the Poor are offering a six-part online conference for young women to deepen their spiritual life and draw closer to God. Take some time to stop and reconnect with the Lord, stepping away from the business of daily life and listening to the Lord...
Online forum: Implementing Laudato Si'
Tuesday 8 March 2022
This online forum will consider models and resources available to parishes for implementing the Laudato Si’ message. Three excellent speakers, Genevieve Mougey (Washington DC Archdiocese, USA), Kerry Stone (Catholic Earthcare parish coordinator) and Jacqui Remond (Vatican Ecology Taskforce) will lead us on this topic. The forum will be presented by...
The Patrick Oration 2022
Thursday 17 March 2022
Join us on the feast of St Patrick, patron saint of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, for the third annual Patrick Oration, to be delivered by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli. This year’s Oration is of special significance as 2022 marks 125 years since the consecration of the iconic St Patrick’s...
Safeguarding Children and Young People @ CAM: Induction Session
Wednesday 23 March 2022
Hosted by the Professional Standards Unit (PSU), this interactive induction session is designed to introduce newly appointed clergy, staff and members of a safeguarding committee. It is designed for newly appointed persons within CAM to develop their understanding of child abuse, responding and reporting child abuse and child-safety related misconduct...
Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre open days
Saturday 26 March 2022
Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre (MMHC) East Melbourne a place of inspiration and vitality, manifests and promotes the spirit and charism of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. MMHC provides, through education, hospitality and charitable works, opportunities for all to experience and be challenged by...
P.S. Before you go . . .
25 Lenten reading suggestions
Picking up a book for Lent, as suggested in St Benedict's Rule, is a terrific idea. But, if you're lost for what to read, we've gathered some ideas to help you along. Some of these are works of fiction (though "spiritual" in nature) but most are not. Wherever you are on the spiritual journey, pick something that will challenge you and take you deeper to ensure this Lent is as fruitful as possible.

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