With all the lockdowns and ‘stop-starts’ of recent years, it’s been a long time since employees of the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s different ministries and agencies have been able to come together at Mass to mark the end of the year.

On the morning of Thursday 15 December, though, all that changed as around 250 staff from the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS), Catholic Development Fund (CDF), CatholicCare Victoria, National Catholic Education Commission, VMCH and various other Catholic agencies gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral for a special end-of-year Thanksgiving Mass.

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli expressed his delight that so many people, representing so many ministries of the Church in Melbourne, were able to come together after such a long hiatus. He likened the assembled staff and agency representatives to an extended family, remarking, ‘Gathering like this is a wonderful thing to be able do at the conclusion of our year.’

In his homily, the Archbishop drew on the words of Isaiah (45:6–8, 18, 21–25)—words that are ‘all about the liberation of God’s people from exile’—and on the Gospel of Luke (7:19–23) to reflect on the ‘budding forth’ of God’s deliverance: ‘At this time of Advent, ... we, too, are offered the pathway of hope and liberation. This is not of our own doing, which always ends in the incomplete and unfinished; but God’s creative and fruitful doing.

God’s creative fruitfulness found its fullness in the advent of Jesus, fruitful even now for us. So the words that Jesus spoke to John the Baptist are words spoken to us as well: “The blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor, and happy is the one who does not lose faith in me.”

‘As we come to the conclusion of our year,’ he said, ‘may this same God of our deliverance, the Son made flesh for us, free us of our burdens, bring us to renewal, and open for us paths of life and peace.’

Throughout the Mass, the congregation were ably led in their carol singing by a specially assembled Christmas choir comprising singers from various agencies, and by musicians Joe Melhem and Klara Rawdanowicz.

The celebrations and conversation continued afterwards in the Cathedral Room at the Cardinal Knox Centre over a festive morning tea, which included barrista-made coffee, shortbread, mince pies and other Christmas treats.

It was a beautiful and fitting way to mark the end of an eventful year—an opportunity to enjoy the company of friends and colleagues, give thanks for all God has done this year, recommit the work of the Archdiocese to the care and guidance of Jesus Christ, and be nourished by Word and Sacrament for everything that lies ahead.