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Message from Bishop Michael McKenna Catholic Diocese of Bathurst

CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BATHURST

Message from
Bishop Michael McKenna

Dear Friends in Christ,

Between now and Advent, I plan to visit every parish in the Diocese to share our stories on the that has been and our hopes for next year and the years to come.

This will be a simple visitation: I will say Mass in each parish and hope to pray with as many people as current restrictions allow. It will not be possible to meet with everyone, but I have asked the parish priests to arrange a gathering of the school principal(s), pastoral council and finance committee. In addition I will spend some time with leaders and members of Word and Faith groups.

My hope is that, during this difficult year, we have learnt some things about our faith and how we live and share it. There may be lessons for how we plan for the future.

Please be united in prayer with me that God would bless this initiative and stir up joyful hope in all the faithful of our local church.

Our Lady of the Central West, St Patrick and St Mary of the Cross, pray for us and with us.

Yours in Christ,
 
+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

VISIT OF BISHOP MICHAEL TO THE PARISHES OF MUDGEE, GULGONG AND KANDOS
6TH – 8TH NOVEMBER

MUDGEE: Friday 6th November Mass at 5:00pm celebrated by Bishop Michael.
(Please note Friday 12:30pm Mass will be as normal).
Bishop Michael to meet with Word and Faith Group, Finance and Pastoral Council members.

GULGONG: Saturday 7th November Mass at 6:00pm
(Please note this will replace the normal Sunday Mass).
Bishop Michael will meet with parish representatives prior to Mass.

KANDOS: Sunday Mass Rylestone at 11:00am
Bishop to meet with parish representatives.

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Diocese News Parish News

A Letter from Bishop Michael McKenna Catholic Diocese of Bathurst

A letter from
Bishop Michael McKenna
Catholic Diocese of Bathurst


PRAY AND SERVE

To the Pastors and People of the Diocese of Bathurst

Dear Friends in Christ,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, who is with us in this time of trouble. He shares the suffering of those who are sick and those who care for them. He shares the anxieties of those whose livelihoods have been lost or threatened. He lives with us in the restrictions on our movement and our contact with one another. He carries to the Resurrection those who have died and weeps with those who mourn.
 
Last week, on the deserted steps of St Peter’s, Pope Francis prayed for us and the whole world in this time of pandemic. You may already have heard or read his reflection on Jesus calming the storm: in case you have not, I attach the full text to this letter.
 
The Holy Father spoke to us as we make the journey of Lent in extraordinary circumstances, yet with the same call to repent and believe the Gospel:
 
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.  
 
In the last couple of weeks, I have been saying that, although our buildings are closed, the Church which lives in Christ’s faithful is still open. We are still loving God and our neighbour: in prayer and in works of service. To quote Pope Francis again:
 
We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.
 
In carrying out our call to prayer and service, I want to let you know of three ways in which we can work together as God’s People of this local church.
 
Prayer at home. Although some are actually busier than usual in this emergency, many have more time: and more time together as families. Whether it is the Rosary, reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, Spiritual Communion, Christian Meditation or other favourite forms of prayer, this unites us in love with God and with the people we pray for.
You can find resources on our website bathurst.catholic.org.au, including soon a new service Connect@home, which will be available both online and in hard copy for those who cannot access the internet.
 
Helping your neighbour. Many people who are able have been reaching out to care for others, especially those isolated at home. Our Diocesan welfare agency, Centacare, has established Parish Careline, which can take calls from those in need of help and put them in touch with volunteers, Vinnies, or other services. Details are on our website, whether you need assistance or are willing to volunteer to help.
 
Livestreaming of Holy Week and Easter liturgies. A number of options from various parishes are available: check with your own parish to see what they are able to offer. In addition, Channel 7 will telecast the Good Friday and Easter Sunday liturgies from St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney: this is welcome news for people who cannot easily access the internet.
 
I will celebrate and livestream from our Bathurst Cathedral of St Michael and St John the following ceremonies: Palm Sunday Mass at 10am; Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:30pm; Good Friday at 3pm and the Easter Vigil at 7:30pm on Saturday night. Father Paul Devitt will celebrate and livestream from the Cathedral Mass at 10am on Easter Sunday morning.
 
May I conclude with a prayer from Pope Francis:
 
Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).
 
Our Lady of the Central West, St Patrick and St Mary of the Cross, pray for us.

 
Yours in Christ,
 
+Michael McKenna

 Bishop of Bathurst

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ reflection during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing delivered on Friday 27 March, on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica, while praying for an end of the coronavirus:

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters. 

Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.


“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross, we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you yet no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).


sent by The Catholic Diocese of Bathurst
PO Box 246 | Bathurst  NSW 2795
phone:  (02) 6334 6400 | 0407 888 407 | fax: (02) 6331 9453 
bathurst.catholic.org.au
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