Bishop Vincent’s address at the 2024 Catholic Schools Commissioning Ceremony and Vespers

By Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, 27 March 2024
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, delivers an address during the Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Commissioning ceremony and Vespers at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: CSPD/Supplied


Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta

Address at the 2024 Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD) Commissioning Ceremony and Vespers at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.

21 March 2024


Forming one another into a critical yeast for critical times ahead


Dear colleagues,

This evening, we gather to give thanks and pray for the new directors, system leaders, principals and beginning teachers in the Diocese of Parramatta. I am grateful for your ‘yes’ to the call of the Gospel in service of the young people entrusted to our care across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. You have been called to accompany, to facilitate and to empower them on the journey to relational wholeness and transformation.

For many, the school is not just a centre of learning for students. It is a home and a place of stability, warmth and care. It is an indispensable part of a young person’s life, come rain, hail or shine. You are to be commended for your commitment to future generations and specifically to Catholic education in a very unsettled time.

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From its very inception, Catholic education was an act of prophetic courage, defiance and an alternative vision of social inclusion. It did not come to existence because Catholics wanted to create a ghetto. Rather, it came into existence because, in the words of Mary of the Cross MacKillop, our pioneers saw a need and decided to do something about it. That unmet need was the poor, the unmarried mothers, the underprivileged and those who could not have afforded a quality education for their children otherwise. So, our pioneers launched into the deep and modelled an inclusive, caring and wholesome way of being together.

We are privileged to stand on their shoulders and continue to foster their legacy. Whether we are pastors, principals, leaders, teachers, parents, guardians and students, we have been called to accompany one another on the journey to wholeness and to lead our learning communities to become critical yeast in critical times. In the footsteps of our pioneers, we offer an education that forms young people into men and women committed to the common good, social equity as opposed to individualism and self-interest.

We live in a time of crisis, economically, politically and ecologically. Ideological positions are widening on every issue whether it is immigration, environment, gender or the place of indigenous Australians in our society. As Catholics, we are called more than ever to listen, discern and act with Christian wisdom, integrity and truth. It is more important than ever that we do not lose sight of our mission, which is a sacrament or a vehicle of God’s all-embracing love for the world.

The early Christians understood this and showed to the world a way forward in how they lived, how they related, how they shared resources. In the face of a fractured society, they shone as a community of radical inclusivity, hospitality and justice. Against the dominant system of exploitation, self-interest and greed, they enacted an ethos of communion, justice and compassion. The Church was transformed beyond the original company that Jesus had gathered and yet this creative process remained faithful to his core values.

We are privileged to be partners with God’s plan for a shared destiny of hope, communion and life for all. We are proud to continue the ethos of inclusivity and offer Catholic education for all, especially the disadvantaged. We feel a sense of pride and gratitude as we embark on this journey together. We are heirs to a rich legacy, borne out of inspiring vision and unwavering resolve. Just as our pioneers did before, now it is our turn to apply the boundary-breaking spirit of Jesus. The world needs more than ever the witness of a Gospel-inspired community united in its effort to honour the dignity and worth of every human person, to serve the common good and to live as one with all creation.

May the teaching and example of Jesus guide us as we endeavour to build our Church, relationships and communities that mirror the Reign of God. Inspired by Jesus’ model of privileging the down-trodden, we can work towards an economy and a social structure that prioritises the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth. May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, help us to be carers and protectors of those who have been entrusted to us. May she guide us as we seek to form them into a critical yeast for critical times ahead.


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