It’s always a beautiful moment when a parish community celebrates a significant anniversary together. On Sunday 7 August, the people of St Christopher’s Parish in Syndal were excited to finally celebrate their 60th anniversary, after having to postpone the event last year in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, on his first time visiting the community, and included a blessing of the parish’s new facilities.
A few years ago, the parish leadership team was inspired to embark on a journey of renewal, committing to forming intentional disciples and continue the mission of Jesus. During this process, the need to update and upgrade their facilities became evident, and finally the renovations have been completed.
During his homily, the Archbishop reflected upon the peaceful, prayerful and gentle way of being disciples of Christ in the world, especially in light of Jesus’ difficult text, ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth’ (Luke 12:49). This fire of Jesus, a fire that his disciples can help bring, ‘needs to be peculiarly Christian,’ the Archbishop said, ‘without attack and denigration, but with the spiritual power of prayer and the peaceful action of solidarity.’
Even what we feel to be the most ordinary things—gathering for Mass on a Sunday, praying the Rosary, or walking in a Eucharistic procession—can be a form of ‘radical action’.
It is a statement to the world that the way of Jesus Christ, given expression by the gathering of his disciples, is a gift of hope for all, and a blessing among people. Our common worship on a Sunday is always a radical thing, even if it feels ordinary, or a chore, or even mundane. It is radical because it witnesses to a group of people striving to live a different way in our culture.
Highlighting the current trials of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua in Central America, whose bishops, priests and faithful are being imprisoned for participating in even the most standard religious ceremonies, the Archbishop encouraged the community to remember that even in ‘an ordinary suburban setting like Syndal’, their peaceful, prayerful and gentle way of life can be a way of ‘causing a ruckus’.
In Nicaragua, he said, ‘They are making a mess in the name and way of Jesus Christ; and good for them. The great news is that we can do the same, in Christ’s name.’
Fr Ralph Besterwitch SAC, Parish Priest at St Christopher’s, said that the anniversary Mass was a lovely occasion to bring everyone together and that ‘there was a strong sense of community’. Their decision to walk forward in renewal was a ‘bold decision’, but they walk in thanksgiving and prayer and hope.
We thank God for his blessings and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to inspire us to become what our Parish Vision states, ‘… a Missionary Parish of Intentional Disciples, passionate about being Christ to all’.
Fiona Basile30 November 2022
Melbourne Catholic30 November 2022