The Cathedral Ambo and Paschal Candle flanked by the Australian flag (PHOTO: James Parker)
In a moving ceremony that interspersed the commemoration of the 100th landing of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli with the theme of the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Good Shepherd, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB spoke movingly in his homily about Christ, the Good Shepherd, who lay down his life for those he loves, choosing always to put others first, and caring foremost for those around him even to the point of losing his life.
The Solemn Sunday Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral began with a prelude of music that contained a composition entitled ‘In Flanders Field’ written by New Zealander David Hamilton as a memorial to the ANZAC troops who fought at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
This was followed by a piece written by Geoffrey Abdullah for Sydney’s World Youth Day 2008 called ‘Our Lady of the Southern Cross'. St Mary’s Cathedral Choir sang its premiere in Sydney in 2008 as a tribute and special prayer to Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Patroness of Australia.
As the prelude of music ended the cathedral bells tolled 58 times in memory of each one of the West Australians who lost their lives at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1915.
In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe began by humbly admitting that, when asked his priorities on being appointed Archbishop of Perth, he explained that “I didn’t quite know how to answer such a question”.
He reminded the congregation present that he spoke a “rather daring and even confronting statement” stating that “the greatest challenge facing the Church in our Archdiocese was, and still is, to return the Church to Christ and Christ to the Church”.
The Archbishop quickly clarified that his comments in no way implied that Christ is not at the heart of his Church, but rather that “what is true in theory doesn’t always seem to be true in practice”.
“The Church,” he said, “is not simply a building, or even a worldwide institution.” It is “not primarily a social welfare agency, or a provider of quality education for children and young people, or a voice for certain enduring moral values”.
The Church, he went on to explain, is “a living and powerful sign of the presence of Jesus in the world… a community of people, called together by God” who have “decided, however imperfectly they may live it out, to be followers of Jesus, friends and companions of Jesus, and witnesses to his goodness, and the joy, and the peace which is his gift to those who commit themselves to him”.
“We have to give our lives back to him, over and over again, day after day. This is what being a Christian means,” the Archbishop stated.
“If we want to take a safe path through life… to commit ourselves to values and attitudes that are truly human… to live our lives to the full, then we will have Jesus at the centre of our lives.”
A floral display including the colours of the national flag enhance the Cathedral Sanctuary (PHOTO: James Parker)
Speaking of the Catholic community across the Archdiocese of Perth, Archbishop Costelloe said that “if we are going to be a credible sign of the presence of Jesus alive in our midst, present and active in our society, we together are going to need to have the same attitudes, the same courage, the same selflessness and the same determination which were so characteristic of Jesus during his life”.
Following the Archbishop’s homily, a reflection piece called ‘We will remember them’ was played from the recently composed 'Mass for the Fallen' written by Australian composer Christopher Willcock for the centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli and as a piece to highlight the united collaboration of diggers from Australia and New Zealand.
As an appropriate ending to the Solemn Mass, a packed cathedral stood as ‘The Last Post – Reveille’ was played by a solo trumpeter. This was immediately followed by all those present rousingly singing the Australian National Anthem.