In this latest message to the Melbourne Catholic community, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli offers some reflections on Pope Francis' prayer intention for the month of October (for women to have greater leadership roles within the Church); progress on the opening up of our churches during stage 3 of Victoria's COVID road map, and the gift of Australia's first saint—St Mary of the Cross MacKillop—whose ten-year anniversary of canonisation we celebrate this Saturday.
'Hello friends, and good to be with you again this week. I want to bring together three things in what I want to share today. You'll notice I'm staying very close to our own St Mary MacKillop here and there's a reason for that. I also want to just talk to you a little bit about where things are at with opening up of our churches, and I want to also talk about what Pope Francis has said as his intention for the month of October. I'm going to start there, because then I'm going to link all the others together.
So Pope Francis has made his particular intention and invites everyone to make as our intention that we pray for the intention of the laity in the Church, and especially women that their involvement—your involvement—might be recognised, honored and allowed to flourish. So each one of us began our journey in faith through our baptism; it’s our primary sacrament. The key sacrament for all of us — whether ordained or lay; whether religious or cleric like myself. So, each one of us in our baptism, are called to be people who bring the gospel alive in our circumstances and we call that the mission of the church. So each of you have a place, a particular place, within the mission of the church, and I wanted to just acknowledge that and thank you for that today, and to let you know of the efforts that perhaps making here in our own Archdiocese to make sure that you have a proper say within the life of the church. So, in my own office for instance, most of my key leaders are lay women who have the senior positions within the Archdiocese. And in most parishes, you will find key leaders amongst our lay people — yourselves. For instance, as catechists or pastoral associates — most of whom are women. These are key leaderships within our church, but we are needing to find ways in which that can be lived out more effectively and I think the Plenary Council will be a key moment in making sure that that becomes a part of the life of the Church here in Australia.
As you know, we are coming towards the Sunday where there will be announcements made about the next level of easing up of restrictions as we come out of COVID. Please God they are effective things. But here's where I want to invite you to be active—over this coming week—to be active in speaking up to ask that our places of worship here, for instance in St Patrick’s where I am at the moment, might be able to be opened up in an equivalent way to other sectors in our society. At the moment we have some disparity going on — so you can gather outdoors in a pub in regional Victoria up to 50 people, but you can only gather for 10 outdoors for a faith gathering. We need parity in this sort of thing. So I'd encourage you to speak up this week, maybe with the parliamentarians, maybe on talkback radio or some way in which you can encourage parity — not asking for anything special — just consistency in and parity across the various sectors. That's being active in your faith. That's taking up your voice in our society so we encourage you to do so.
And lastly, our beautiful St Mary of the Cross. As it turns out, this coming Saturday is the 10th anniversary of her canonisation. So it's 10 years already since Mary MacKillop became "St Mary MacKillop". And I just want to acknowledge that she was one who was able to speak so strongly into our own Australian society and culture with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the love of Jesus in her heart and the mercy that comes to all, and she spoke so strongly in that regard. So I just want to acknowledge Mary today, and give thanks to the Lord for giving her to us as a model and an example of a great witness to the faith. Thank you, Mary. Thank you, Jesus Christ — who gave Mary the grace to become this great saint of ours. And to all of you — "Saints among God's saints" — may this week be full of blessings for you, and a time of being able to come a little closer to the Lord in your own lives.'
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli22 February 2021