The Diocese of Ballarat will turn 150 on March 30, 2024.
It was on March 30, 1874, that Pope Pius the Ninth issued a decree that marked the beginning of the Ballarat Diocese. Bishop Paul, in his message about the anniversary, said, “Our 150th anniversary will be an opportunity for each community throughout our diocese to remember those who have gone before us, those who have laid the foundations of our parish and school communities and the social services and health care that are provided in our diocese today. The anniversary will be an opportunity to review our history, acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses, celebrating the achievements and recognising the failures to live our Christian faith to the full. It will be a chance to take stock of where we are now and look ahead to how we can live as a truly Christian community, sharing the good news of Christ, in the years to come.” (ODC July 2023)
The logo for the 150th Anniversary of the Diocese of Ballarat was prepared by a committee convened by Bishop Paul. The design incorporates the diocesan logo and the bough of a tree drawn by Sr Anne McMillan rsm in 1985. The words Anne had used with this drawing were, “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come”. It is an old Chinese proverb, which could be interpreted as a reminder to keep hope alive and a call to open our hearts to all. The bough of a tree symbolises growth, interconnectedness and life. The leaves could symbolise the communities, the parishes, the people of the diocese.
The text Communities: Remember, Revitalise, Hope reflects various aspects of the anniversary. The word “Community” highlights the fact that a diocese is essentially a community drawn together by Christ, a large community made up of many local communities. The word “Remember” refers us to the history of the diocese. In this remembering, we acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of that history, celebrating the achievements and recognising the failures to live our Christian faith to the full. The word “Revitalise” calls us to invest ourselves in bringing new life to the community today. The word “Hope” encourages us to look forward to the future with confidence in God.
The Scripture verse chosen for our 150th anniversary year reflects various elements of our vocation as a Christian community. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). The words are drawn from a passage in St Paul’s letter to the Romans in which the apostle lists qualities appropriate for a community inspired by Christ. As the years go by, the community experiences times of trial as well as times of gladness. Through it all, their trust in Christ makes them joyful in hope and patient in affliction. They recognise that they need God’s help in all they do and so they are faithful in prayer, seeking God’s help day by day.
May this anniversary year be a season of renewal for our diocese, our community of communities from the Murray to the sea.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN 2024
A DIOCESE IS BORN
Sr Berenice Kerr rsm has written about the events leading up to the establishment of the diocese.
Historical journals hold accounts of the formation of Ballarat Diocese, and the issues which provided the background to this event have been explored in other publications by students of Church History. A continuous, detailed narrative is, however, difficult to come by. Hence this attempt to provide an outline of the process by which the vast territory of the diocese of Melbourne was divided into three separate dioceses in 1874, noting that subsequently a fourth diocese, Sale, was created in 1887.
One hundred and fifty years have passed since Rome issued the decree which stated:
We [Pope Pius lX] by Our Apostolic Authority … erect and constitute … two new dioceses, one in the City of Sandhurst and one in the City of Ballarat …
As the anniversary approaches, it is opportune to revisit the story … our story, and in doing so certain questions spring to mind. Why was the diocese formed? Who made the decision? How was it arrived at? and possibly, the most fundamental question: What is a diocese, anyway?
SONGS FOR THE 150TH
Roger Hillman, Fr Andrew Hayes and Gerry Vytilingam have collaborated and composed songs for the marking of the 150th anniversary of the diocese.
There are three songs available:
Song 1: Together We Build Our Place. Words: Roger Hillman and Sr Anne McMillan. Music: Roger Hillman. (C) 2023, Roger Hillman All Rights Reserved. (Additional instrumental parts available, please contact the Pastoral Ministry Office)
Song 2: Rain in the Mallee. Words: Andrew Hayes. Music: Andrew Hayes. (C) 2023, Andrew Hayes All Rights reserved.
Song 3: Humble Service. Words: Geraldine Vytilingam. Music: Geraldine Vytilingam. (C) 2023, Geraldine Vytilingam All Rights Reserved.
The Diocese (parishes, diocesan entities and diocesan schools) is able to use the songs from February 21, 2024 until June 8, 2025 (Pentecost) free of charge. After this period, usage will be subject to copyright.
RESOURCES FOR PARISHES
The 150th Anniversary Committee working with Bishop Paul has prepared liturgical resources to help acknowledge the occasion through various times of the year.
We begin with the Season of Lent and below you will find resources for use in parishes and schools.