Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Address during Vespers and the 2023 Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD) Commissioning Ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta
16 March 2023
Dear friends and colleagues in ministry,
Today, we gather to give thanks for your appointments into leadership roles in the Diocese of Parramatta. I am grateful for your ‘Yes’ to the call of service to the young people in our learning communities 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 just like Jesus who is the exemplar par excellence of accompaniment and empowerment.
We are living in a time that requires a radical shift from the “business as usual” approach. It is time to embrace a new paradigm of equitable, sustainable, harmonious, shared life with and for all. I believe that as educators, we have the opportunity to form a new generation that values the common good more than individual success. Just as the Pope calls for a new politics of inclusion in the light of the systemic inequalities in the world, we also need an education that forms young people into men and women of deep empathy, solidarity and communion as opposed to individualism and self-interest which is so rampant in our society.
“Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge. But be an example that the whole flock can follow”. These sombre words from the Scripture tonight are a summons to the Christian ideal of leadership and service. Pope Francis has subverted the model of leadership in the Church that is pivoted to worldly power, control and influence. Instead, he has exemplified a kind of leadership that is grounded in the Gospel, particularly in Jesus’ style of humility, compassion, empathy and selflessness.
We are living in a time of tremendous change. Yes, there is a sense of crisis in terms of the diminishment in the Church’s size, resources and influence. But there is also a sense that the Spirit is at work among us, guiding, nudging and moving us beyond our fears and limitations. After all, Jesus often compared the kingdom to something small, insignificant and yet having impact beyond its appearance. He used metaphors like the mustard seed, the leaven, the salt and the light. So perhaps, we should worry less about size and more about depth, less about quantity and more about quality. Our summons to Christian leadership today is a summons to integrity, authenticity and agency.
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. That is our prophetic mission. We re-incarnate the Gospel that it may come alive again for our people in our time.
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. Jesus’ model of privileging the downtrodden, we can work towards an economy and a social structure that prioritises the care of people and the care of the environment. 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.