On Sunday 26 June, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, the people of God gathered from across the Archdiocese for a special Mass to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Melbourne.

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli celebrated the Mass, and was joined by the Dean of the Cathedral, Very Rev. Werner Utri, as concelebrant.

A highlight of the Mass was the launch of a specially commissioned Mass setting, arranged by Dr Philip Matthais, Director of Music at the cathedral. Jointly commissioned by St Patrick’s and St Paul’s cathedrals, the setting has been used to mark the 175th anniversaries of both the Catholic and Anglican dioceses of Melbourne, which were established on the same day on 25 June 1847. Entitled Melbourne Mass—One Family in Christ, it draws on the cultural and musical heritage of various ethnic communities who have helped shape our life together as a family of faith, including Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, Irish, Vietnamese, Tongans, Filipinos and Croatians.

The Mass also opened with a specially commissioned Jubilee hymn, ‘Come down to Earth’, with words by Dr Katherine Firth and music by Rev. Dr Christopher Willcock SJ.

In contrast to the wet, overcast Melbourne weather, the interior of the cathedral was alive with colour and glorious music as the St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir was joined by the Filipino Chaplaincy Choir of Melbourne, the Vietnamese Holy Martyrs Combined Choir, cantors Helena and Michelle Buljan of the Croatian Catholic community and Troy Kuhl on the Didgeridoo.

Dr Matthais later expressed his great joy at being able to bring people together ‘through music of Australia’s history—of its multicultural history, of its colonial history, of its First Nations history.

It’s been beautiful and really enriching for me to work with everyone in building the music project for today’s Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Comensoli pointed to the origins of the Archdiocese in the family homes of Melbourne’s first Catholics. ‘Children, parents, families’ he said, ‘this was the early Church, the community of the faithful, in Melbourne.’

Reflecting on the ways that the faith is still nurtured and passed down the generations in the homes and families of Melbourne’s Catholics, he observed that ‘the family of our local Church had always been made up of the individual families—in all their shapes, sizes and arrangements—who have sought to live their lives with Christ, in faith, hope and love.’

‘This diocese—now, an Archdiocese—is properly a family of families, united in the one family of God.’

Continuing this theme, he observed that ‘A family lives and flourishes when the relational bonds of unity are fostered in the midst of the diversity of the individuals who make up the family.’

The depth of this unity, and the richness of this diversity, were both clearly on display at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday as it resounded with song and the prayers of the gathered faithful.