St Stephen’s Chapel, Bishop James Quinn and Blessed Mary MacKillop were key elements of a Brisbane archdiocese sesquicentenary Mass on Monday which packed St Stephen’s Cathedral with Church and civic dignitaries as well as lay people from throughout the archdiocese and beyond.
The Mass marked the 150th anniversary of the consecration of James Quinn as the first Bishop of Brisbane.
Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane presided at the 10am Mass on Monday, June 29.
Apostolic nuncio Archbishop Guiseppe Lazzarotto and Cardinal George Pell, representing the Archdiocese of Sydney from which the See of Brisbane was carved, were among concelebrants.
One of the event’s organisers, Dean of St Stephen’s Cathedral Fr Ken Howell, was also a concelebrant.
Among representatives from other Christian Churches were Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, Anglican Bishop Rob Nolan of Toowoomba, recently elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Danny Mihailovic and Pastor Gary Swenson, representing Queensland State President of the Assmeblies of God Pastor Wayne Alcorn.
Civic dignitaries included Deputy Governor Justice Paul de Jersey, Deputy Premier Paul Lucas and representatives of the police and armed forces.
Priests from throughout the state attended, among them 15 celebrating gold, ruby and silver jubilees.
For many of them it was also the anniversary of their ordination. Traditionally in the past, ordinations were held on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul (June 29).
Among the celebration’s themes were a sense of the evolution of the archdiocese, its inextricable connections with the history of the State of Queensland, an acknowledgement of past achievements and shortcomings, and a focus on the archdiocese’s mission to continue to lead others to Christ.
A Mass highlight which met with applause was the nuncio’s formal announcement on behalf of the Holy See that approval had been received for Blessed Mary MacKillop to be made patron of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
Archbishop Lazzarotto then read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to mark the anniversary of Bishop Quinn’s consecration stating that “The Pope sends warm greetings to religious and civic dignitaries and all taking part in the celebrations.”
“His Holiness rejoices in the people’s wholehearted reception of the Good News of Jesus Christ,” the archbishop continued.
The Pope also expressed the hope that “the celebrations will be an occasion of strength and unity” and that all will “embrace their mission to bring others to Him through the words and actions of Christian life”.
Archbishop Bathersby’s opening words at the historic celebration, an invitation to worship broadcast from nearby St Stephen’s Chapel, were a reminder of the chapel’s role as the archdiocese’s first cathedral.
This designation had also occurred in 1859 with the episcopal ordination of Bishop Quinn in Dublin.
“From this place, a tangible link to our past, let us give thanks for God’s graciousness to us,” the archbishop said.
A procession of about 140 priests soon entered the cathedral followed by a welcome to country and acknowledgement of the area’s indigenous people by the archdiocese’s Murri Ministry chairperson David Miller accompanied by Auntie Estelle Sandow of the Turrbal people.
The Mass then opened with the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty sung by the Cathedral choir directed by Dr Ralph Morton.
Archbishop Bathersby in his homily later pondered his own experiences as part of the archdiocese and the swiftness of time’s passage.
He recalled starting at Banyo’s Pius XII Seminary in 1955 and how his seven years’ study seemed “an eternity”.
“Now after 48 years of priesthood I’m amazed I could have regarded a mere seven years as an eternity,” he said.
“Now I’m older it seems only a mere moment of time.”
The archbishop went on to talk of the impact that the Church had made over the past 150 years and of its continuing potential to do so “if only we priests and people are able to grasp the sheer magnificence of the Christian vision to share with the world”.
In passing, Archbishop Bathersby noted that the Catholic archdiocese of Brisbane celebrates its 150th anniversary with the Anglican Church, the State itself and the City of Brisbane.
“Could this be a sign that God wants us to work together for the common good?” he asked.
He also paid tribute to the struggles of Queensland’s first bishop James Quinn after arriving in Australia following his consecration in Dublin and what must have been great challenges “to spread the word of God” in a country so different from Europe.
This appreciation for the spirit of sacrifice of the clergy was also seen later, this time from the congregation.
At the end of Mass, spontaneous and sustained applause came from those gathered as they farewelled the procession of clergy from the cathedral.
Released by The Catholic Leader
July 5, 2009