Blessing of the Diocesan Ministry Centre, Blacktown, 6 October, 2016
Dear friends and colleagues in ministry,
Today, we gather to thank God and to invoke his blessing upon the Diocesan Ministry Centre in Blacktown, which will facilitate the many spiritual, pastoral and social services of our young and growing Diocese.
This centre will complement the Chancery Offices in Parramatta and enable us to fulfil our mission of supporting, empowering and caring for those in need.
I am indebted to my predecessors and my co-workers, past and present, who have worked hard to get us to this point. I am committed to build on this legacy and to make the Church in Parramatta an oasis of mercy.
In the words of Pope Francis, the Church is not a museum for saints or an enclosure for the virtuous. It is more like a field hospital, which heals the wounded, strengthens the weak and lifts up the lowly.
The Church is first and foremost a presence. It is a sacrament of God’s presence that gathers and draws people together. It reflects something of God’s unconditional and unlimited love to them.
It creates, nurtures, heals, restores and prospers communities and relationships. The Church is never meant to be just a business provider.
The life of Jesus does not consist of merely doing good deeds to others; but it is an expression of the divine pathos. People experience in their encounters with Jesus not simply a humanitarian gesture but also a glimpse of God’s unconditional and unlimited love.
Pope Francis recently spoke about the temptation of the Church to become a compassionate non-governmental organisation. This happens when despite doing work in the name of the Church or in the name of God, we fail to convey the love and presence of God.
In fact, our boast of being the largest non-government provider of charity, health care and education can ring hollow if we fail the test of being an authentic presence of God.
The Scriptures tell us that the strength of Church is ultimately measured by its commitment to Christlike love and service. Peter likens the believers to living stones making a spiritual house.
They are to learn from the example of Christ – the stone rejected by the builders that has proved to be the keystone. In other words, it is through enduring love and discipleship that the vitality of the Church is manifested.
Similarly, the Gospel of St John gives us a moving account of what it means to be a true follower of Christ and what it means to be a true Church. It is the story of the Last Supper and the visual summary of Jesus’ mission statement.
His action of washing the feet of his disciples is a shock to them and an antithesis to their value system. The master becomes the servant. The Lord becomes a slave. It is not simply an act of radical humility. It is the love that embodied total self-giving and self-sacrifice.
Jesus’ feet-washing example enables us to understand the meaning of the cross. He calls us to a life for others – a life that entails the total giving of oneself. “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”
Dear friends and colleagues in ministry,
I wish to acknowledge the spirit of self-giving on the part of many, including those who have made the transition here. It must not have been an easy move. I am aware also of the painful journey that those in CatholicCare have had to make in the wake of the realignment.
While I cannot address every concern about the extent and the process of the realignment, I want to reassure everyone that we are totally committed to the revitalisation of our outreach services. In fact, it is the vision of Pope Francis that we wholeheartedly embrace and implement as best we can.
To do so effectively, we have had to make difficult changes. It is my hope that the pains we experience are like the necessary birth pangs that will lead to new life.
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. After all that is said and done, the quality of our discipleship must shine through. We must be able to imbue God’s abundant love and all-embracing presence.
As we bless our Diocesan Ministry Centre, we pray that it may be a place where people experience the love and presence of God. We pray that those who work here may be ambassadors of God’s mercy and the faces of the church of the poor and for the poor.
In the last analysis, true renewal can only come about when we the followers of Christ take his message to heart and live it fully. Let us pray that as a community of disciples, we learn to be humble servants of one another.
May the example of Christ who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for others inspire us to be servants of one another, especially the least of our brothers and sisters.
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