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Commemorating the 150th year of St Ignatius' Church

St Ignatius' Church 150th Anniversary Commemorative book2017 marks 150 years since the building of St Ignatius' Church.  Our parish celebrated this occasion with a specially arranged Mass at 9:30am on Sunday 30 July 2017 with Fr Brian F McCoy SJ, Provincial, as main celebrant. Concelebrants included the priests of our parish - Fr Nguyễn Viết Huy SJ, Parish Priest, Fr Tro Tran Van SJ, and Fr Ferruccio Romanin SJ - and many other Jesuit priests.

At the Mass, one of our parishioners, Dr Therese Keogh shared a Reflection: 150th Anniversary of St Ignatius' Church.

It was wonderful to see many parishioners, especially past parishioners, at the Eucharistic Celebration and in the parish hall for morning tea afterwards. Thank you to all who joined us in making it a memorable day.

A photographic book to commemorate this historic church (cover seen at right), launched at the Sesquicentenary Mass, is now available to purchase at a special price for a limited time.


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Jesus and the Canaanite woman PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 20 August 2017: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus and the Canaanite womanWoman, you have great faith

Sometimes the gospel narrative has a ring of authenticity that is unmistakeable. The response of Jesus to the Canaanite woman, in today’s reading, must have been puzzling - even embarrassing - to Christian converts from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. Jesus, in fact, echoes the Jewish custom in his time, of referring to Gentiles as ‘dogs’. It can only have been retained in the gospel tradition because it was what he had said. Those who heard the brave woman pleading for her daughter against all odds – she was an outsider appealing to a Jewish teacher, a plaintive voice in a very masculine world – must have remembered her story as a remarkable moment in the life of the Saviour. What is more, she is remembered as seeming to get the better of Jesus in their exchange. But this exchange leads, in the end, to a moment that those who witnessed it would never forget, confronting them with the generous and inclusive ways of God: ‘Woman, your have great faith. Let your wish be granted’.

Once again we should recall that this incident is included in a narrative section of Matthew’s gospel, in which Jesus is instructing his disciples. A significant part of the community for whom this gospel was written had belonged to a Jewish community that was extremely exclusive and intolerant. This attitude is puzzling, because the Old Testament scriptures included a remarkable vision of God’s plan as ultimately inclusive of all peoples. Abraham was promised that he would be father of many nations; the prophets looked forward to the peoples of the world – even Israel’s enemies – flocking to Jerusalem to worship the true God. In today’s reading from Isaiah, the prophet declares, in the name of God, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples’...

Extract by John Thornhill sm - read more at The Emmaus Series | Image [detail] of Jesus and the Canaanite Woman by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Having trust and fear PDF Print E-mail

Trust and fear - which way?Sunday 13 August 2017: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Command me to come to you over the water

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away.

After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’

19 August: World Humanitarian Day

This day was instituted to remember people who have served in humanitarian missions and especially those who have lost their lives in the course of their service. It is an opportunity to call to mind the people who have gone before us, and especially to honour our martyrs. These include Christians who were killed because of their faith or because they recognised how precious each human being is regardless of race or religion, and dedicated their lives to serve them when they were under threat. They both inspire us and keep us honest.

It also reminds us how important it is for all community groups, including Jesuit Social Services, our parishes and schools, to remember the people who have inspired us and have shaped our ministries and our way of working. Their stories, including their foibles and the mistakes they made and made up for, show what our we are about. They do so, not in the language of mission statements and corporate speak, but in the messy language of lived lives and relationships.

In any organisation the arteries that keep us energetically alive can easily be hardened, with the result that we live half-lives. We can keep our eyes on the desk, focusing on the ways we have always done things without noticing the changes in the lives and circumstances of the living people whom we serve. It is easy, too, gradually to become discouraged by the difficulty of our work, by the lack of recognition we receive, by the toxic attitudes we see in society and by the daily losses we take in our personal lives.

In any organisation, too, we can focus on the logistics of what we do – the finances, the delivery systems, the compliance protocols, the correct procedures and so on - and lose sight of the faces of the people whom we serve. The processes are important, but they must serve larger goals. In our case the goal is that the people whom we serve live more fully, find respect and are connected with society. What matters most is people. Programs are a means to this end.

The way to keep this goal in mind is habitually to look into the faces of the people with whom and for whom we work, automatically to think of our parish as people, of our hospitals as people and of our schools as people, each of whom has a distinctive face.

That is why we remember the people who have lived out our own mission generously and attractively, the people whose memories make us smile as we go about our daily work. Humanitarian day is about dusting our own humanity, making it shine and putting a smile on its face.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

Stand up, do not be afraid PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 06 August 2017: The Transfiguration of the Lord

His face was shining like the sun

Transfiguration of our LordJesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

Image: Landschaft mit Verklärung Christi. Öl auf Leinwand. (Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ. Oil on canvas.) by Francesco Zuccarelli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

August 9: Indigenous Peoples of the World

United Nations Days are like Saints Days in the Catholic Calendars. They are reminders of the wider world beyond our own homes, cities and nations, often reminders of the violence inflicted on good people, and are also occasions for thanksgiving and celebration.

The day dedicated to the world’s Indigenous peoples reminds us that we in Australia are not alone in occupying the land once occupied by other people with their own rich language and culture. Most nations in our region are composed of early inhabitants and later arrivals.

Nor are we alone in reckoning the effect that the later arrivals’ seizure of land had on Indigenous people. In both North and South America, as in Australia, Indigenous peoples were hunted down and marginalised by the later arrivals. It is less than a century from our emergence from the colonial period, when European nations assumed the right to take control over other peoples and their lands.

We are reminded also of our obligation to seek reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples, recognising their prior ownership of the land and the claim that they still make on us. Our own self-respect as nations depends on us owning our history and making up for the destructive effects that settlement had on Indigenous peoples.

This day reminds Christians, too, of our ambiguous relationships with Indigenous peoples. Many European powers justified their exploitation of other lands and peoples by claiming they had a duty as Christians to conquer the original inhabitants and to make Christians out of them. But in many places, too, Christian churches protected Indigenous people from worse oppression and even from extermination, by providing some shelter for them. The Christianity that was brought, however, embodied only imperfectly the call to embody the Gospel in all nations, peoples, cultures and languages.

If for the Indigenous people of the world this day is a sobering reminder of wrongs done, it can also be an occasion for shared thanksgiving and celebration. We can be thankful that in our world today so many Indigenous people have survived, despite the sufferings, injustices and humiliation they have suffered, and that they remain proud of their culture and languages. Their faithfulness in keeping alive what was at such great risk of dying out is surely to be celebrated. We can be thankful, too, for the gift that they are to us. They ensure diversity in our nations in the face of the many forces that try to eradicate difference.

This day reminds us all that our world is wider than our nation, that our nations are more than the peoples who presently rule them, and that God is larger than our local churches. For us at Jesuit Social Services the day is an occasion for thanksgiving for the Indigenous people whom we serve and who work with us, and a reminder that our mission extends beyond our own shores.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

Remembering St Ignatius PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 30 July 2017: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

He sells everything he owns and buys the field

31 July: Feast Day of St Ignatius of Loyola

St Ignatius of LoyolaFor Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola is important because he brought us together. He is important, too, in all our Jesuit works because, whether we realise it or not, he shaped the way we think and go about our work. So his feast day gives us a pause for reflection.

Ignatius always began any discussion by asking what matters most deeply. Then after recognising what response fitted best to achieve what mattered, he was always self-reflective in carrying it out.

We can learn much from Ignatius when we reflect on the way in which he and his young companions at the end of their university studies went about deciding what they should do. The process led to the founding of the Jesuits.

They had already decided to work together; what mattered to them was to be open to God’s call and to persons in need. It was a time for decisions.

They came together to plan. They decided to wait a year to see if they could find a boat to Palestine, which they would spend in living simply and prayerfully, offering their services in different cities, and helping poor and sick people. They would then gather again in Venice where they hoped to take ship to Palestine. If they could not sail, they would offer their services as a group to the Pope and be at his disposal for whatever missions he used them for.

In the event, war with the Turks ruled out travel to Palestine, they applied to the Pope, and after many ups and downs the Society of Jesus was born.

The style of decision making described here was Ignatius’ gift to the world and became best practice in Jesuit works. It involved dreaming big, reflecting at leisure, focusing in an adamantine way on what matters, and to do all this together. It also involved a feature that is often overlooked. The first Jesuits slept on straw and begged their food while spending their time with the poor. Their thinking and praying were grounded in living close to the ground.

In Jesuit Social Services the practice of Ignatius and the first Jesuits translates into reflectiveness, personal and shared, about ourselves and our work. It entails also making the good of the people we work with decisive in all the decisions we make, and holding closely in our imagination and our hearts the lives of the people whom we serve.

For some of us that way of working is grounded, as it was for Ignatius, in Christian faith with its emphasis on following Jesus’ way. Others ground it in other habits of the mind and heart. But wherever we come from it makes its claim on us.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

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