A celebration Mass was held recently to acknowledge and give thanks to the Ballarat Diocesan clergy whose Jubilees of Ordination occurred in 2022 .
Mass was celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 5.15pm. Bishop Paul Bird CSsR was the Main Celebrant and those celebrating Jubilees were invited to Concelebrate Mass, along with Vicar General, Fr Kevin Maloney. Deacons Matt Restall and Bill Lowry also assisted Bishop Paul during the Mass.
Proceedings began with an Acknowledgement of Country and are all were welcomed by Dr Peter Morris.
The choir included Dr Susan Crowe (Conductor and Cantor for the Responsorial Psalm), Betty Boadle, Pat Conroy, Judith Gustus, Colleen Holloway, Mary Kelly, Dianna Micich, Lazaria Micich, Trish O’Donohue, Therese O’Loughlan, Sheila Wilton, Sr Anna Robertson (Nazareth House), John Connaughton, Frank Carrucan, Fr Andrew Hayes, Dr Peter Morris, accompanied by Organist, Mr Geoff Martin (if there are any errors or omissions on this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org). The music was beautiful. The voices of the choir filled the Cathedral and the hymn selection enabled all to participate fully in the singing.
At the beginning of Mass, Bishop Paul welcomed all in attendance and acknowledged those celebrating Jubilees:
- Fr John McKinnon – 65 years
- Fr Kevin Murphy – 65 years
- Fr Kevin Arundell – 60 years
- Fr Thomas Brophy – 50 years
- Bishop Paul Bird – 10 years as Bishop of Ballarat
Sr Marg Carmody sgs proclaimed the First Reading and Juanita Bongiorno led the Prayers of the Faithful. Bishop Paul invited Rev Bill Lowry to proclaim the Gospel and Fr John McKinnon to present the Homily. Unfortunately Fr John was an apology due to COVID isolation, but he kindly forwarded his homily to Bishop Paul to read at the Mass. We were still fortunate to listen to Fr John’s reflections of his priestly journey, looking back and looking forward. A copy of the homily follows:
Homily for Mass with Clergy Jubilarians by Fr John McKinnon
(Read by Bishop Paul Bird CSsR)
The best-laid plans don’t always work out. I contacted Fr John McKinnon as one of the jubilarians and invited him to give the homily for this evening’s Mass. He graciously accepted the invitation. But then, on Saturday, he sent an email to say that he had tested positive for Covid and would have to isolate at home for the next seven days. He said that he was disappointed not to be able to join us for the celebration. However, he sent the draft of his homily, in case this would be of some help for whoever might be preaching.
I am very happy to take up Fr John’s offer and share his words with you as our homily this evening. He provided the following reflections.
Celebrating a long life of priesthood provides a strong temptation to look backwards. However, this evening, I prefer to look forward, towards the future.
For quite a while now, the number of people attending Mass regularly has been declining. This trend has been accentuated in the last couple of years because of the pandemic. What will the Church be like when things settle down again after Covid?
In the First Reading this evening, we heard how God rescued the Jewish king Hezekiah from the threatening advance of about two hundred thousand Assyrian soldiers. Perhaps, we feel tempted to wonder why God does not do something equivalent for the Church of our day. My sense is that God does something better.
God’s intervention kept the Jewish monarchy safe for one more century — but eventually it crumbled, totally wiped out by corruption from within and invaders from without. As a kingdom, it was hardly worth saving. Most of its kings, with two or three exceptions, were not interested in God; and the professional prophets attached to the Temple were little more than “Yes-men”. The ones who watched over Israel as the People of God were the freelance prophets like First Isaiah and Jeremiah — and particularly the humble, ordinary, faithful few, both women and men, whose names never hit the Scriptural headlines. It was to these that Isaiah’s oracle referred, as we heard tonight:
“A remnant shall go out from Jerusalem,
and survivors from Mount Zion…
I will protect this city and save it
for my own sake …”
As people look at our Church, what they see is its external embodiment: the hierarchy and clergy, the Mass-goers in the parishes, the schools, hospitals, service organisations, and so on. We need structures to hold, to exemplify and to teach Jesus’ vision of the reign of God; to call us together into supportive relationships; to enable our worship. The coming Plenary Council will, please God, contribute to keeping future structures “fit for purpose”.
The Church, however, is more than its structures. What cannot be seen are the ranks of those tuned in to God’s Spirit, the faithful ones, lovers of God, sharers in the Spirit that animated Jesus, quietly doing their bit to shape the world according to his vision. We are sisters and brothers in the risen Christ, all of us, sharers with him in his radically re-defined priestly, prophetic and regal activities. What an incredibly close relationship, with him and with each other — not seen, not felt, but resolutely believed.
Fr John then wrote about his hopes for the time ahead.
In whatever time I have left, I would love to sharpen my inner eye to see more clearly my God-given, almost-unbelievable dignity, and the equal dignity of everyone. I would like to tune my inner ear to hear the voice of God, whenever God whispers within me in my conscience. And especially I plead that God change my “heart of stone” to a “heart of flesh” that is finally free to love others totally gratuitously … as God does.
I find it quite stimulating continually to look for, and sometimes to detect, traces of God present and at work in the world and likewise present in myself! The poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, expressed the same reality more lyrically: “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.”
All of us, together, will be the ones to shape the future — the salt that gives savour, the leaven in the dough penetrating and uplifting everywhere, the mustard seed that becomes a tree where the birds of the air perch and nest — and sing their magical songs.
I don’t know if there is more love abroad in our world today than there was sixty or more years ago. Who could know? But each of us today can always do our bit to add to that total of love already leavening and up-lifting the world.
When the Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, how many were they? How effectively structured was the Church?
Mary was also there amongst them. What was she doing? My guess is that Mary was doing what she had consistently done throughout her life: “she treasured her experience and pondered it in her heart” She looked and listened for God, present and softly calling in the midst of life’s surprises.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Paul prayed a Blessing for the Jubilarians and all in attendance joined in song to share the blessing, “May God Bless You and Keep You.”
Following Mass, clergy gathered to share a meal and continue the celebrations. We give thanks to those who celebrate a Jubilee this year and to all those who serve in our diocese. Thank you also to those who travelled to attend the Mass.
A copy of the Mass booklet can be viewed here.
Earlier in the day the Council of Priests met at the new Catholic Education Ballarat offices. Thanks to Kerrie Zammit, CEB, for the photo.