ST THERESE’S SCHOOL CENTENARY MASS HOMILY 2023
LET US HAPPILY CELEBRATE TOGETHER
Mt 6.1-4 Col 3.26-29
Here we are again, with a follow-up centenary Eucharistic celebration for our parish school at St Therese’s. It was mentioned at the start of Mass that the school was opened by Archbishop Daniel Mannix in March 1923. 40 years later I was in Grade 6, and can remember the last St Patrick’s Day parade in the city, down Collins St, with Archbishop Mannix up near parliament house with his top hat in an open car, at which time he was 99, not quite making it to his own centenary!!
So we have a long history here of our Christian faith lived and shared over the years, well integrated into our system of Catholic education. Things were rather different back then, with most, if not all of the teachers being religious, from the Sisters of Charity, to whom we give thanks for their dedication, hard work and sacrifices made, for the benefit of the young people they committed themselves to educate.
Conditions were not easy, way back there, with no government funding, but the Spirit was present in the way they put in the long days at school, with no free periods, large classes and early mornings, starting with prayers and Mass, well before school started. (And we are privileged to have Sister Josephine here today, at 105, as the only person present, who was around when this school opened, and who taught whopping big classes back here in the 1940’s!). And there was the generosity, sacrifices and support of hard-working parents, committed to their children having a Catholic education.
At the heart of it all is the Gospel message of Jesus, where he reminds us again and again, that the law of love is the most important thing, as he shows us what that means in whatever he says and does, demonstrating in himself what it means to live one’s faith in a God of love and life, who provides us with this wide and wonderful world in which to live our lives, seeking happiness and fulfilment by the people we are and the way we engage with others, and try to make our world a better place, by our presence in it.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need for looking beyond ourselves and doing good deeds to help others, particularly those in need. We are in the middle of Lent, a time when we particularly focus on Project Compassion, in supporting the good work of Caritas Australia, both at home and abroad, contributing to improving the lives of many in need, enabling and encouraging them to help themselves grow and learn to live better lives.
We are reminded that it’s not about making out that we are better than others because of the good things we do, but that it is our responsibility to give of ourselves in terms of service and generosity of spirit. Show-offs are a pain anyway, but it’s not to say we can’t set a good example for others to know that we are doing our best to live by the Spirit of Jesus in the care and concern we have.
And Jesus tells us to be forgiving when things go wrong, and also to say sorry when we do the wrong thing and hurt others, as we can all do at times throughout our lives, as we grow, live, love and learn, trying all the time to follow the example of Jesus.
Our first reading today is a reminder from Paul, who reflects on the fruits of the Spirit of Jesus, in telling the people of Ephesus that God’s love is for all of us, and it’s up to us to show that love in the way we live our lives, being gentle, kind, humble, patient and grateful, not taking for granted what others do for us, be it parents, carers, family, teachers, helpers or friends, not to forget loving grandparents in particular.
And don’t we know how much happier we are, if we see others brighten up because we have helped and encouraged them. That’s why it’s good to be here together in a community where there is care for every single individual person, all nearly 600 of us in our school community and many more beyond.
We look forward to further celebrations at the weekend with our parish and school fun fair too. Special thanks go to the committee members, and to all who have helped with the organization there. It hasn’t just happened overnight, so much time, work and creative energy have gone into it all.
Coming together and celebrating our diversity, I am reminded of an orchestra, where every instrument makes a contributions to producing beautiful music. So my story to end my thoughts today is “The Bush Concert” (by Helga Visser), where all get together to make beautiful music and have a fun time, as we do here celebrating 100 years of Catholic education here at St Therese’s School. And here’s to many, many more!
We acknowledge and thank our staff, past and present, Religious and lay, for maintaining the spirit of our school faithful to the person and message of Jesus and his Gospel of Good News, with humility and love. Memories are precious as we look back, but we also have to look forward in continuing to live, love and learn together as a faith community, with ever enquiring minds. (As my Monash Uni motto says: Ancora imparo – I am still learning!)
john hannon 23rd March 2023