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Keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the Good Shepherd


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has recently encouraged newly commissioned catechists, saying that keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the Good Shepherd is the only way forward as a community, listening carefully for His word. Photo: Ron Tan

By Jamie O’Brien

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has this month encouraged newly commissioned catechists, saying that keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the Good Shepherd is the only way forward as a community, listening carefully for His word, waiting patiently for His guidance and following in His footsteps.

The Archbishop made the comments during his homily at the 2015 Catechists’ Thanksgiving and Commissioning Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday, 5 November and continued by saying that, as we listen to Jesus [in tonight's Gospel], we gain a rich insight into His mind and heart.

The occasion was attended by more than 450 people, accompanied by numerous priests and clergy who assist the lay faithful in their service and dedication to preaching the Gospel.

“He wants us to understand that, in the image of this shepherd, we find a reflection of the mystery of God. Just like the shepherd, God Himself goes in search of the strays and the lost ones and carries them back to the safety of the flock.”

Catechist Services Leader Pina Ford, from the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia, gave the initial introduction for the occasion, explaining that the occasion was a shared endeavour between two groups: catechists supported by the Personal Advocacy Service who minister to adults with intellectual disabilities, and catechists supported by the Catechist Service, who share their faith with children in parish-based religious education programs.

“Our partnerships arise from the common call of catechists to echo the word,” said Dr Ford.

“This is a work done in a special way by our priests - and with their support – and I welcome you with much gratitude,” she said.

The Archbishop then commenced the commissioning of 32 candidates, including 15 who will work with Personal Advocacy Service, each of whom has completed the designated training and formation for their ministry.

A further 42 people were also commissioned with Provisional Accreditation, with the view to completing further studies.

Ten were also congratulated on the completion of Certificate One in Ongoing Faith Formation, while another five had completed Certificate Two.

The highlight of the occasion was the awarding of the Archbishop’s Award and Papal Blessings to 52 catechists who had made a significant contribution through many years of service – awards made once every four years.

Continuing his homily for the occasion, the Archbishop reflected on the image of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of the night:

“Jesus begins by saying to His listeners, "who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go in search of the lost one?"

“What Jesus is trying to say is that the compassion of God for the lost goes beyond all the bounds of human calculation.

“There is no weighing up of the risks, or of the advantages or otherwise, of the decision to go in search of the one who is lost. In God's mind, if we can put it that way, there is no cost too great, and no risk not worth taking, to bring someone home. The question for us, in the light of this parable, is this: do I really believe that this is how God thinks of me when I fail, or when I sin, or when I get hopelessly lost? Do I really believe that God loves me this much?”