Some of the best stories are ones that continually have something to offer, especially when we come to see them with fresh eyes. And what could be more captivating than the story of Christmas where, as the second-century author Tertullian once wrote: our God became small that we might become great.

This week we hear from Mary Burke FMM, a Melbourne iconographer who sees her art as a way of entering into a deeper relationship with God. ‘When it comes to the Gospels we often think, “Oh, we’ve heard this story before. But no, we haven’t. ... It’s important for us to keep ourselves open to that freshness. It’s so critical, otherwise, our tradition just dies, and we lose something too precious. And that’s the gift of iconography. It continues to draw us into the story, and to provoke a response.’

Another story that continues to unfold is the life and legacy of Melbourne's first bishop (later archbishop) James Alipius Goold. The recently published book, The Architecture of Devotion: James Goold and His Legacies in Colonial Melbourne, illustrates how Goold ultimately shaped the social and cultural fabric of Melbourne and Victoria. One of the book's editors, Melbourne's own Rev Dr Max Vodola, spoke with Melbourne Catholic and shared why Goold remains a fascinating and significant figure in the life and faith of our city.

Finally, on Monday 20 December, everyone is invited to watch the Christmas Carols Special, Jesus is Christmas, broadcast on Community TV Channel C31 (Channel 44 on digital TV). Presented by the Archdiocese of Melbourne in partnership with Mercy Health and VMCH, the one-hour special is a chance to enjoy carols sung by some of Australia's most talented musicians. 🙏🎼

Archdiocese to host TV Carols Special, ‘Jesus is Christmas’
To celebrate the Season of Advent and Christmas, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is hosting its second annual carols special, Jesus is Christmas, airing on Monday 20 December at 7pm on Community TV Channel 31 and the Archdiocesan YouTube channel.
Simbang Gabi: A Christmas gift from the Filipino community
The Archdiocese of Melbourne is one of the most culturally diverse in the country, blessed with many different groups who call Australia home and contribute to the life of our local communities. This includes the Filipino community, one of Australia’s largest migrant groups who are well known for their deeply devotional practice of Catholicism. One of the Advent traditions that the Filipinos have gifted to the local community is that of Simbang Gabi, where people attend Mass at dawn in the nine days leading up to Christmas. Several parishes across the Archdiocese and beyond are offering Simbang Gabi and invite the community to participate.
Mary Burke FMM, bringing the Gospels to life in iconography
When Mary Burke FMM sits before a blank piece of wood, paint brush in hand, ready to commence an icon, she prays. If painting for herself, she contemplates the Gospel story that she is about to depict in the striking colours and gold leaf, or if it’s a commissioned piece, she’ll pray for the person for whom she’s painting the icon. And she continues to pray throughout the whole process. ‘Iconography is a form of art, but it’s a functional art,’ Mary said. ‘It has a purpose, which is to engage with the viewer’.
Fr Max Vodola on the distinctiveness of Goold's legacy
The historical and cultural contribution of Melbourne’s first Catholic Archbishop, James Alipius Goold (1812-1886) has come to life again in a new book, The Architecture of Devotion: James Goold and His Legacies in Colonial Melbourne, edited by Prof. Jaynie Anderson, Rev Dr Max Vodola and Mr Shane Carmody. Fr Max, who lectures in Australian church history at Catholic Theological College and is Chair of the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, said the new book shows just how significant a figure Goold has been in the life and development of the city of Melbourne and wider Victoria.
Archbishop encourages support for Religious Discrimination Bill
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli is encouraging the community to express their support for the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021, saying the federal bill will provide basic human rights protections for Australians of all faiths to express their beliefs. One of the two federal Parliamentary committees reviewing the bill is currently seeking responses from the public via an online survey, which closes at 5pm 21 December.
Church leaders: Child safety is central to mission
The fourth report from the Catholic Church to the National Office for Child Safety outlines initiatives across dozens of Catholic entities as they continue to strengthen their efforts to keep all people safe in Church settings. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia accepted the recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that organisations provide annual progress reports on their work to protect children. The fourth such report has recently been published, and draws from reports from Catholic dioceses, religious institutes and other organisations.
MGLs welcome ‘new generation of zealous, faithful missionaries’
Earlier this month, the Missionaries of God’s Love Priests and Brothers (MGL) welcomed Br Joshua Whicker, Br Justin Uzabeaga and Br Shehan Fernando, who made their final vows before a Covid-19 limited but joyful congregation at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra. It was a night of jubilation and celebration for the brothers, who are based in Melbourne, where they have been living for the last five years.
A word of thanks to our parishes
In this brief message, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli offers a word of thanks to the many parishes and families within the Archdiocese of Melbourne. 'To our priests, deacons, pastoral associates, pastoral carers, parish staff and sacramental coordinators, and the very, very many volunteers in ministries and works, thank you! What a great load you have carried over these last two years of the pandemic. To our families within our parish communities, I offer you a word of encouragement and hope, as you see in the lives of your children, that gift of faith blossoming.'
10 books for the stocking (and summer!)
Books are a great Christmas gift—for others and for ourselves! As the year winds down and the summer break beckons, it's a great time to start catching up on books we’ve missed, especially the longer ones we don’t have much time for. In this list of book recommendations, there is enough magic and wonder, lore and laughter for a variety of ages, from children through to adults. Dive into a fascinating range of topics related to life, adventure, Christianity and Catholicism in particular. These books have been chosen for the curious of mind and the heart that loves being taken deeper and farther.
‘That’s the gift of iconography. It continues to draw us into the story, and to provoke a response ... it’s about relationship with God.’
Mary Burke FMM
On bringing the Gospels to life in iconography
Don't miss the Jesus is Christmas Carols Special!

Enjoy carols old and new on Monday 20 December at 7.30pm, on Community TV Channel C31 (Channel 44 on digital TV) and streamed live via the Archdiocesan YouTube channel (

Monday 20 December, 7.30pm - 8.30pm

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of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

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