A Thanksgiving Mass attended by around 2500 people crowned a day of celebrations and official functions to mark the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s 150th anniversary on July 30.
29 Bishops, representing a majority of Australian dioceses as well as the Maronite, Melkite and Ukrainian eparchies, were present for the event held at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby said he was delighted by the remarkable gift of solidarity shown by his brother bishops.
In addition indigenous elders and representatives or Heads from the Anglican, Uniting and Coptic Orthodox Churches as well as the Assemblies of God, the Salvation Army and the Religious Society of Friends were also in attendance.
Another esteemed guest was Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, who preached the homily.
Archbishop Martin reflected on his predecessor Archbishop Paul Cullen (1803 – 1878), who as well as consecrating Queensland’s first bishop James Quinn in 1859, instigated a devotional revolution in Ireland in the latter half of the 19th century.
Archbishop Martin said faith and religious practice had been poor when Cullen became a bishop, yet within one generation the reflourishing of Catholicism had brought about an incredible renewal of Irish life.
“The Irish priests and sisters, who came to Australia in those early years, following the first groups of Irish immigrants, were very much filled with the same dynamism as Cullen The Irish priests, sisters and brothers who came to Australia in those days were very much drawn from the same dynamism as Archbishop Cullen,” Archbishop martin said.
“The early years of the Church here in Queensland were marked by a similar desire to produce a strong Catholicism with a clear sense of identity which would permit Catholics to exercise their rights fully and to impact for the good of society.
“The pioneers of the Church in Queensland always courageously stood out and above the thought patterns of their times.
“Theirs was never the witness of armchair observers or critics from the sidelines, but of those who like Archbishop Quinn never looked back to the comfort of his days in Dublin, but who from his first days in his adopted homeland knew and shared at first hand and sought to alleviate the harsh realities of his contemporaries, creating a unique pastoral style of closeness to people’s lives which has long been the tradition of the Church in Queensland,” he said.
Earlier in the day Brisbane Catholic Education and the Religious Institute schools marked the start of Catholic Education Week with a vibrant schools event attended by 3000 students.
The significance of the day was also evidenced by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who flew back from duties at the Labor Party National Conference to host an official reception for the Archdiocese at Parliament House in the afternoon.
Released by the Catholic Communications Office
July 31, 2009