Mass of the Oils 2021

On Monday, March 29, the beginning of Holy Week, St Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat was filled as much as COVID safe practices would allow with priests and people from around the Diocese for the Mass of the Oils.  It was wonderful to be able to gather for this occasion as it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. This Mass is very special to our Diocese as it is the annual celebration of the Diocesan Church of Ballarat.  The gathering celebrates the unity of the Diocese where priests, religious and laity renew their commitment to call to serve in Christ’s name as baptised members of his Church and sharers in his mission.  The Holy Oils were blessed and consecrated and were distributed to all the communities of our Diocese for the celebration of the Sacraments.

The Oils – Oil of the Sick, Oil of Baptism and the Holy Chrism – will reach those in our Diocese who become sick and are anointed; every baby in our Diocese who is baptised; every young person and adult in our Diocese who are fully initiated into the community of the Church.

The celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Paul Bird, along with Fr Kevin Maloney, Vicar General and Fr Justin Driscoll, Administrator of the Cathedral Parish. Cay Trinh Peter, William Lowry and Matthew Restall, seminarians from the Ballarat Diocese were also in attendance.  Bishop Paul acknowledged the jubiliarians from 2020 and 2021 who were:

Clergy Ordination Anniversaries 2021:

65 years:              Fr Dan Arundell and Fr Damian Heath

60 years:              Bishop Peter

50 years:              Fr Peter Hudson and Fr Michael Linehan

40 years:              Fr John Keane, Fr Michael McKinnon and Fr John Monaghan

30 years:              Bishop Shane Mackinlay (now Bishop of Sandhurst)

20 years:              Fr Marcello Colasante

10 years:              Fr John Corrigan

Clergy Ordination Anniversaries 2020:

65 years:              Fr Bill Melican

60 years:              Fr Pat Flanagan

30 years:              Fr Neville Stanislaus and Fr Justin Driscoll

25 years:              Fr George Kuruvila

10 years:              Fr Anthony Nagathu

Members of the diocese fulfilling ministries at the Mass this year were:

Oil of the Sick Procession: Flagon: Sr Ana Robertson csn – Sister Superior, Nazareth House Ballarat

Oil of Catechumen Procession: Flagon:  Jenaya Kelly – Candidate:  St Joseph’s Parish, Warrnambool

Oil of Chrism Procession: Flagon: Fr Anthony Nagothu – Jubilarian:  Ordination to the Priesthood

Perfume:  Sully & Flynn Boyd – Confirmation candidates: St Alipius Parish, Ballarat East

First Reading:  Sr Natalie Houlihan ibvm – Loreto Sister

Second Reading:  Tom Sexton – Executive Director:  Catholic Education Ballarat

Gospel: Fr Dan Arundell – Jubilarian: Ordination to the Priesthood

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only the flagon of Oils was processed to Bishop Paul Bird CSsR for blessing.  The bottles of oils for distribution throughout the diocese remained on the altar for the blessing.

The music was beautifully led by Choir Conductor Susan Crowe, Organist Mary O’Driscoll and choir members from the Cathedral Parish.  The Cantor for the evening was Felicity Liston from St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Ballarat who sang a beautiful rendition of the psalm.

After communion, the Diocesan Plenary Council Facilitation Team which included Sr Veronica Lawson, Bill Hitchin, Bernadette Lynch, Bernie Tolan and Jane Collins, led the prayers for the Plenary Council delegates.  The prayers acknowledged the Plenary Council delegates from the Diocese who are Bishop Paul Bird, Fr Kevin Maloney, Marie Shaddock, Felicity Knobel, Mons. Glynn Murphy and Fr Kevin Lenehan and asked that God grant them the grace to be open to the Spirit leading them through the days of prayer, listening and discernment during the process and gatherings of the Council.  “This evening we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them on the journey of the Plenary Council.  May the Council bring a blessing on them and on our whole Australian community.”  The delegates were presented with a candle.

Before the final blessing, Dr Peter Morris from the Diocesan Liturgical Commission called representatives of the parishes of the Diocese forward to collect the Oils for their parish.

There are many people involved in the success of this Mass and thanks is extended to those who prepared the oils, participated in the various ministries, collected the Oils for their parishes, welcomers, ushers, those responsible for the décor in the Cathedral, Kay Curran for overseeing the set-up for the Mass and members of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

Homily at the Chrism Mass – Ballarat Cathedral, March 29, 2021

Earlier this month, Pope Francis was in Iraq. The Christian communities there have suffered persecution for many years and Pope Francis went there to offer them a message of encouragement. He also offered a message to the whole nation. He called on all the people of Iraq to put aside violence and put their efforts into building peace. He called on them to see one another as brothers and sisters. This was a big challenge in a country that has endured bitter divisions between various groups. Yet Pope Francis presented a message of hope. He assured them that it is possible to move beyond such divisions. It’s possible by the power of God. Pope Francis described himself as a pilgrim of peace. He went to Iraq to share a vision of peace.

His message to the people of Iraq was like the message that he’d written to people all around the world a few months before in the encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, “Brothers and Sisters All”. In that encyclical, Pope Francis presented a vision of community in which people put aside the bitterness of divisions and violence and learn to live in kindness. He invited us to look to such a vision. He invited us to dream together about how we might live a life of peace. This was his call to dream together. “Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.” (par 8)

In presenting a vision and inviting us to dream together, Pope Francis was echoing the words of the first Pope, St Peter. In the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter speaks of young people having visions and old people dreaming dreams. We might sometimes think of visions and dreams as impractical. And of course, visions or dreams by themselves don’t bring about practical improvements to people’s lives. For that we need action. But visions and dreams can inspire action. A vision of peace in Iraq can inspire people to turn from violence and work to build the peace. A dream that people throughout the world could really live as one human family, as brothers and sisters – such a dream can inspire people to work together to build up a truly caring human community.

The same is true for our life as a diocese. A vision of living as a diocesan community can inspire us to do what we can to build up that community. A dream that we can live as a truly Christian family can inspire us to work together to build up a genuine community of care in our parishes and in our whole diocese. Over the past couple of years I’ve invited people around our diocese to offer suggestions to develop our diocesan vision statement. As it has developed, our vision is very much in tune with the vision of Pope Francis – a vision of a community of brothers and sisters. Our diocese is made up of local communities. All together, our diocese is a community of communities. This is how we’re expressing our diocesan vision at the moment:

We are a community of communities from the Murray to the sea.
Inspired by the Gospel and nourished by the Eucharist,
we follow the example of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
reaching out in joyful and humble service,
caring for all of God’s creation,
growing in love day by day
and looking forward to life with God forever.

Here at this Mass, we have people from many communities around the diocese. We’re also linked with those who are joining with us online.  As we celebrate the Chrism Mass, we are indeed a community of communities from the Murray to the sea. May our vision inspire us to live as a truly Christian community. May we continue to dream together and may our dreaming inspire our living, that we might really be a single human family, brothers and sisters all.

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR