75 Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) schools were represented at the annual Diocesan Education Mass which featured an inspiring homily by Bishop Vincent Long aimed at re-energising schools in their mission to transform the lives of their students.
For the second year in a row, the Mass was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Bishop Vincent was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Concelebrating was Vicar General and Episcopal Vicar for Education and Formation, Fr Christopher de Souza, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Parish, Kingswood, Fr Andrew Fornal OP, and Deacon Tony Hoban from St Luke’s Catholic Community, Marsden Park.
Contributors to the Mass represented a strong cross-section of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) schools including: an introduction from St Mary’s Primary, Rydalmere, Master of Ceremonies Jorel Mateo; a reader from Holy Family Primary, East Granville; Prayers of Intercession from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary, Greystanes; offertory procession by St Margaret Mary’s Primary, Merrylands; musicians from Catholic Youth Parramatta Band and Eric Grella; Extraordinary Ministers of Communion from St John Paul II Catholic College, Schofields and Nirimba; and altar servers from St Patrick’s Primary, Parramatta.
In his homily, Bishop Vincent referred to the song I Want To Know What Love Is. “In the author’s mind they are thinking about the pain and heartache of true love. We hear about true love in the first letter of Paul to the Ephesians. God teaches us love is unconditional and that he will take care of us even when we are old and grey!” Bishop Vincent said.
“It is like the Parable about the Prodigal Son, when the father waits for his son to return and when he does return he embraces him. That is true love. There is no greater love than the love of a person who gives their life for yours. The life of Jesus showed us this.
“God’s love is inclusive, is far reaching and it breaks down barriers. Catholic education is about transformation and turning us into a symbol of God’s presence in the world. As we go through different stages of our lives we pray we become the best person we can be in the image of Jesus. Let’s have a positive impact on the world around us,” Bishop Vincent said.
CEDP Executive Director Greg Whitby spoke about people’s search for the truth and how that search is conducted not only online, but in our social media networks too – especially through the use of hashtags. “I want you to remember at our schools is the ‘truth’. The truth is to continually be challenged. We are going to be curious about the world we live in and we want to challenge it, we want to ask those important questions. When you see the tweets with hashtags don’t take them as gospel. The Gospel is far better than that.”
CEDP Head Mission Mark Smith said this year’s Education Mass is a celebration of Catholic Education with a focus on social justice. “It is a celebration of the vision of our schools. It is a collaborative spirit of all our schools together,’’ Mr Smith said.
Schools also had the opportunity to showcase their Social Justice projects before and after the Mass. St Margaret Mary’s Primary, Merrylands Year 6 student Nevah Shrestha said one of their social justice projects was a quilt of quotes from the Bible which was put together when they did their Mini Vinnies Sleepout.
“Everyone got a small square and we got a passage from the Bible to write on it or draw a picture which our teacher sewed together. We also made bookmarks. This project taught us how to work together and doing the sleep out showed us what it is like to be homeless,’’ Nevah said.
At Marian Catholic College, Kenthurst social justice projects include: Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion Appeal, Vinnies Winter Appeal, support of the work of Jesuit Refugee Service, the Vinnies Christmas Appeal and Sew a Smile. Sew a Smile is a project which sees both students and parents transforming colourful pillowcases into little dresses and shorts which are sent to Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Uganda.
Year 10 student Braith Sandy said their social justice projects really build on their sense of community. “It gives you a sense of belonging, and really helps with your own mental health, and appreciating what you have in life.’’
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.