Christian discipleship calls us to be witnesses to Jesus, dying to ourselves so that Christ’s love can be made known. Sometimes these acts of witness are small, and other times they cost us more, but our witness is always outward-looking, making Christ more credible to a sceptical world.

Recently, Joseph Cardinal Coutts, Archbishop Emeritus of Pakistan, visited Melbourne with Regina Lynch, International Director of Projects for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The two of them have been travelling Australia, raising awareness of Christian persecution globally. It was a privilege to sit down with them, hear their stories and listen to some of the amazing work ACN is doing around the world. As well as being an advocate of interfaith dialogue, Cardinal Coutts is a powerful witness of the need to work tirelessly for love and justice, even in the face of hatred, discrimination and persecution.

In line with this, ACN has recently released Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2020–22, highlighting the growing persecution of Christians worldwide. The report includes information from ACN and other local sources, first-hand testimony, compilations of incidents, case studies and a country-by-country analysis of the extent to which Christians are targeted around the world. With Red Wednesday today, it’s a good opportunity to brush up on our knowledge of what’s happening in the Church globally and to keep our brothers and sisters in our prayers.

On Saturday 19 November, six men gave witness to their faith through ordination. With great joy, Melbourne received three new transitional deacons and three new priests in a beautiful Ordination Mass. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli thanked the men for their witness and their willingness to be instruments of Christ’s grace, reflecting on the virtues needed to serve the Lord in these vocations.

Great works of art are a unique and beautiful way to witness to our faith. Recently, artist and restorer of religious art Joseph Giansiracusa passed away in Melbourne at the age of 76. Convinced that statues and other works of art can raise our hearts and minds to God, he used and shared his skills to foster a passion for the sacred in God's people, leaving a beautiful legacy. Bernadette Thorley pays tribute to a gentle and generous craftsman.

Finally, this coming Sunday is the beginning of Advent, when the Church year resets and we begin the liturgical cycle again. On the path of Christian discipleship, we often need these opportunities to slow down and start over, to find renewal, to come home again. But with all the hectic activity that the end of the year brings, Advent isn’t always a season we observe with care and attention, so we offer you our Advent ‘guide for the perplexed’—a chance to refresh our understanding of what this season is all about and how to engage with it more deeply.

We hope you will be inspired by the stories we’ve shared this week, of those whose lives are a living witness to Christ’s goodness and love. May they move us to surrender more deeply to Christ’s love, so that through him we may be faithful and fruitful witnesses of him to the world around us.

‘This is our witness’: Cardinal Coutts and ACN on global religious persecution
Cardinal Joseph Coutts, along with Regina Lynch, International Director of Projects for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), have recently been visiting ACN’s supporters around Australia drawing attention to the suffering of persecuted Christians. We hear some of their fascinating and moving stories about ACN’s work in countries around the world.
Report reveals worsening persecution of Christians around the world
Written by: Aid to the Church in Need
Jihadists and nationalists are driving increased persecution of Christians around the world according to a recently released report from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The report, ‘Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020–22’, includes information from ACN and other local sources, first-hand testimony, compilations of incidents, case studies and a country-by-country analysis of the extent to which Christians are targeted around the world.
Three new priests and three new deacons ordained for Melbourne
On Saturday 4 December, three new priests and three new transitional deacons were ordained for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in a joyful Ordination Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The cathedral was full as Fr Huy Nguyen, Fr Vinh Do and Fr An Le were ordained to the priesthood, and Rev Thomas Christie, Rev Tien Tran and Rev Peter (Ngoc) Nguyen were ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Advent: a guide for the perplexed
Advent is supposed to be a time of spiritual renewal: a chance to start again, to come home if we’ve drifted away, to rediscover the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. So at a time of year when it’s easy to get distracted, it’s worth spending some time thinking about what Advent is, why it exists and how we can enter into it more intentionally.
Raising minds and hearts to God: vale Joseph Giansiracusa
Written by: Bernadette Thorley
Joseph Giansiracusa, artist and restorer of religious art, passed away suddenly in September at the age of 76. Bernadette Thorley remembers a man whose master craftsmanship, deep faith and gentle generosity have helped to lift minds and hearts to God in churches and homes across Melbourne since the 1970s.
‘They will know we are Christians by love; by love they will know we are Christians. I think that’s what the world has got to see.’
Cardinal Joseph Coutts
on being a witness to Christ
Upcoming events
Red Wednesday Prayer Vigil, St Patrick’s Cathedral
Wednesday 23 November 2022
7.30pm–8.30pm
Join Msgr Joselito Asis, Episcopal Vicar for Migrant and Refugees, in an evening of prayer and recollection to mark ‘Red Wednesday’ and stand in solidarity with the +200 million Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Joining many other cathedrals and churches around the world, St Patrick's Cathedral will...
Cathedral concert: ‘Rejoice! A Star is Risen, the Light has Come’
Friday 2 December 2022
6.00pm–7.30pm
Cathedral Organist, Dion Henman, presents a program of Advent and Christmas music played on the grand organ of St Patrick’s Cathedral. A meditation on the journey from Advent to Christmas, this concert features music based on traditional carols, including ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’...
Cathedral concert: ‘A Christmas Celebration’
Sunday 18 December 2022
3.00pm–4.30pm
Join us as we celebrate the spirit of Christmas with carols across space and time, including an Acknowledgement of Country through music. A family concert of traditional and modern Christmas favourites, featuring Brass, organ and choir in the beautiful and inspiring space of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Performance will include audience...
Musical: ‘The Call of Guadalupe’
Thursday 24 November 2022
7.00pm–8.30pm
The Call of Guadalupe musical is an entertaining, uplifting Christian musical that celebrates life, love and hope. Based on a story by Anne Lim, the musical was created by playwright and artist John Lee, with music composed by Peter Foster. St Joseph’s Parish is thrilled to have the participation of...
ACBC online event: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Friday 25 November 2022
3.00pm–5.00pm
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace invites you to attend a special online event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Keynote speakers will be Bishop Vincent Long, Chair, Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service and Michael Jeh...
Ecumenical service: ‘Holding the Light’
Sunday 27 November 2022
2.30pm–3.30pm
St Peter’s Eastern Hill will be hosting an ecumenical service to remember the victims and survivors of family domestic violence. The focus this year will be on how family violence has impacted male survivors and perpetrators. Jesuit Social Services will speak about their work with men and adolescents. For all...
Advent retreat: ‘Prepare the Way’, Holy Family Church
Saturday 3 December 2022, 10.00am
– Sunday 4 December 2022, 4.00pm
Holy Family Church and Divine Kids Ministry invite you to join their Advent retreat ‘Prepare the Way’ for children aged 5–15. There will be Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praise and worship, group discussions, activities and fun games! Guest speakers Fr Ajin AlbarnasFr Aurelio FragapaneFr Joseph AbutuFr Michael Shadbolt...
CTC information session: ‘Find Your Path’ 2023
Monday 5 December 2022
7.30pm–8.30pm
The most telling step in a journey is the next step. That’s the step that determines the path ahead. Join the Catholic Theological College (CTC) in an online information session to learn more about making the next step in theological studies; the right step for you. Expert presenters will...
‘The Australian Nativity Scene’, St Elizabeth’s Parish
Monday 5 December 2022
– Friday 13 January 2023
St Elizabeth’s Parish invites you to visit its Australian nativity scene on its 19th year of display. The nativity scene was created by artist Wilson Fernandez, and it has been regarded as one of Australia's most traditional nativity scenes and the largest of its kind in the country. The nativity...

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