It was a first for Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta recently when the largest cross section of Western Sydney schools attended the annual Diocesan Education Mass at the Cathedral Church of St Patrick’s in Parramatta.
Principal celebrant of the Mass was Bishop of Parramatta Vincent Long who was joined by Diocesan priests.
Contributors to the Mass represented a strong cross-section of Diocesan schools including readers from Cerdon College, Merrylands, Prayers of Intercession from St Paul the Apostle Primary School, Winston Hills, offertory procession by Holy Family Primary School, East Granville; musicians from Catholic Youth Parramatta Youth Band, Extraordinary Ministers of Communion from Parramatta Marist, Westmead and altar servers from Nagle College, Blacktown and Parramatta Marist at Westmead.
In his Homily, Bishop Vincent Long reflected on his childhood and how as a child he had a sense of self-reliance, which was a result of the unconditional support and wisdom from his own father. He said the followers of Christ, also experience this love “which gives them the strength to withstand the winds of affliction.”
“We are experiencing this crosswind as a church at the moment. If God uses painful episodes, then he can certainly use the modern episodes of exile of our wilderness to purify and make us more worthy of our calling and mission,’’ Bishop Vincent said.
“In Catholic education, our concern is not only in the learning outcomes, but in the holistic formation of the person. It is essential that we learn to be a servant of the kingdom and usable signs of hope in this world today,’’ he said.
The Mass culminated in the recognition of the winners from the 2018 Year of Youth Art Competition. All students from Kindergarten to Year 12 were invited to create an artwork to celebrate the Year of Youth and it’s theme; for young people and the Church to ‘open new horizons for spreading joy.’ This theme is based on Pope Francis’ call at World Youth Day 2016:
The winners were Elizabeth McKee of Our Lady of the Angels, Castle Hill (First in the Infants section), Mia Valente of St Bernadette’s Primary, Dundas (First in the Primary section) and Andrea Abreu of Nagle College, Blacktown (First in the Secondary section).
At the conclusion of Mass, participants were treated to an impressive visual display of the social outreach projects of Diocesan primary and secondary and schools. It was a reminder to everyone there of the extraordinary work that happens in Catholic schools supporting the most vulnerable in our community.