On the feast of St Patrick, patron saint of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will deliver the 2021 Patrick Oration.

The last Patrick Oration was held two years ago, where the Archbishop proposed a framework for how the Church in Melbourne might forge a way ahead. The proposal was to move away from the institutional centre and relocate the Church among what he called ‘local neighbourhoods of grace’, where the seeds of the Gospel could be nurtured among people ‘who strive to live lives according to the way of Jesus Christ.’

In doing so, Archbishop Comensoli encouraged locals to draw inspiration from St Patrick’s own experience:

‘When Patrick was sent to Ireland, he carried with him a deep knowledge of the Christian faith, drawing on what he had learnt from the great educators of his time. He carried with him what C.S. Lewis would come to call that “deep magic” by which people find meaning to their questions, and purpose for their lives. He carried with him a fire to light the way.

‘The deep magic that Patrick took with him to Ireland is still accessible today for Catholic Melbourne. It’s there in our biblical faith and our intellectual tradition. It’s there in our liturgical practices and spiritual heritage. It’s there in our saintly witnesses, like Mary MacKillop and Mary Glowrey, daughters of Melbourne. It is there in you and me.’

Since the 2019 Patrick Oration, the world has been shaken by the COVID pandemic, with Victorians experiencing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. And it is only in recent months that parish communities have been able to return to public worship.

Looking ahead to this year’s Patrick Oration, the Archbishop acknowledged the dramatic changes that have taken place since 2019.

‘I spoke then about needing to set out for new territory and to plant the seeds of the Gospel in amongst our people, in our families, in our local communities and amongst all those who seek to know Jesus,’ said Archbishop Comensoli. ‘Well, none of us expected COVID – and that has shifted us in such a dramatic way this past year.

‘Once again, I will take the opportunity to set a sense of where I see us at this moment, and how we move forward.

‘We might call it the Patrick Oration: COVID edition.’

The 2021 Patrick Oration will be held on Wednesday 17 March. The broadcast begins at 7.30pm and can be viewed on community channel C31 (channel 44 on digital TV) and via YouTube at 7.30pm.

Parish communities across the Archdiocese are invited to come together to watch the Patrick Oration and begin a conversation about what was revealed to your parish and wider community. Parishes can watch live on the night or when a ministry group, leadership team, parish team or parish pastoral council next meet (with the Oration available on YouTube to watch later).

The following questions might assist in exploring the content:

  • Archbishop Comensoli described where he sees us at the moment (as a wider Archdiocese). What resonated with us?
  • How do we see our own parish at the moment?
  • What did last year’s COVID experience reveal to our parish community?
  • What opportunities did COVID provide to our parish? What surprised us?
  • How is our parish being called to plant the seeds of the Gospel;
    • in amongst our people, in our families?
    • in our local communities?
    • amongst all those who seek to know Jesus?