St Augustine’s Parish, Kyabram
One Hundred & Fortieth Anniversary
13th May, 2018
Acts 1-11 Eph 4 1-13 Mark 16 15-20
Indeed, it gives me great pleasure to join with you today to offer my congratulations and to mark the celebration of one hundred and forty years of the Parish of St Augustine’s Kyabram. Today, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 13th,is also the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and so we ask the blessing of Our Lady on these celebrations.
Today truly is a great day in the life of our Church! Today we celebrate the last of Jesus’ earthly mysteries, a great truth of our creed, that “he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” And today we celebrate the 140 years of the great faithful community of this Parish.
The pioneers of this great parish have gone before us to their reward. The Ascension means that Jesus has gone before them and us— to open up the gates of heaven for all! The Ascension means that we can live now every day with the hope of heaven. Knowing that where Jesus has gone, we can follow — into the highest heavens!
This lovely feast of Jesus’ Ascension reminds us that we, too, will have our resurrection, when God “will raise our mortal bodies and make them like his own in glory. This is the beautiful truth we celebrate today and it is such a fitting feast on which to celebrate 140 years of faithful service of this parish community.
Jesus’ Ascension is also the start of our mission, the mission that Jesus gave to his Church. As God the Father sent him, Jesus sends each of us out in to the world to continue his mission. To redeem that little part of the world that we live in: here in Kyabram — our homes, the places where we work, our neighbourhoods, just as the pioneer parishioners of this wonderful parish did so well, 140 years ago and ‘passed the baton’ through the faith families down through the decades.
So let us reflect on our readings for this great solemnity, and ask ourselves what God is saying to us through his holy Word this morning.
Our first reading today tells us that these forty days after Easter were a time of preparation. Jesus was getting his Catholic Church ready for her mission — to go out into the whole world and proclaim the Kingdom of God. Many early parishioners from here have done just that – some as priests, religious sisters and brothers, and of course the significant contribution needs to be noted of the Augustinian Fathers and the many Brigidine sisters, who were the backbone of education here for almost one hundred years, toiling with magnificent lay staff to provide good education and effective pastoral care of our students and indeed all throughout the parish communities.
We know the apostles were scared and they must have felt ashamed because they had all abandoned Jesus on the night he was betrayed. So Jesus needed to reassure them. He needed to teach them why it all had to happen. We know that he interpreted the Scriptures for them, so they could understand why it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and die. We know also that he needed to prove to them that he was really alive! So that’s what he was doing for these past forty days. Then, on the day of the Ascension, he led them all out to the Mount of Olives.
But the Ascension does not mean a farewell. This is the mystery of the Church! With his Ascension, the earthly mission of Jesus ends. That’s true. But the mission of his Spirit and his Church begins. His Ascension is our mission.
Jesus is alive — in our hearts through Baptism and through the graces we receive in every Eucharist. He is present in every event in our lives. We can turn to him for guidance. He is always there to give us the strength we need to follow him and to do his will. It is obvious that the people of St Augustine’s have been and are today well aware of this, as they have nourished the faith which has flourished so much from the sense of mission and courage of parishioners now for one hundred and forty years.
My brothers and sisters, in our readings today we hear Jesus’ last earthly words: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. These words are very important. Because he is talking to each one of us. We all have to live the Ascension! We all have to live like those first apostles did. By following Jesus’ teachings and example. By living his life of joy and love and peace! By always looking for ways to share our faith in the Resurrection with others!
Each of us is called into the ministry of Jesus in some way. We are called to be 'other Christs', to be people who wish to make known and spread the love of God and his care for his people in the world. We may never know how much we have done this; it is sufficient that we do what we can. God has some work to do that can be done only through each person. In a time of prayer we ask that we use our gifts and talents as best we can in God's service.
So, our mission remains the same as that of the first Catholics in St Augustine’s Parish, as it was for the first Christians. It is firstly allowing God’s grace to purify our way of living so that we will be true disciples of Jesus in every aspect of our thinking and living.
Secondly, it is to take our Catholic heritage seriously. We must be committed to the Catholic vision and have a truly welcoming, open and all-embracing heart, yearning to play our part in carrying on the mission of Jesus.
St Augustine’s Kyabram is a place where the faith has been and is currently taught and lived; where gospel values are proclaimed and put into practice. At the centre of this parish community is the invisible presence of Christ who is alive and active in the lives of his people.
I would like to conclude with the words of Pope Francis who says that the parish is where we are touched and embraced by the loving mercy of God, where everyone belongs, and where no person is excluded or is beyond hope.
May I offer my warmest congratulations to you all on this wonderful celebration of St Augustine’s Kyabram. Milestone celebrations are typically times for a parish community to reflect upon and give thanks for its past and to look forward to the future. I pray that you will continue to accept the mission of Jesus where all will be touched and embraced by the loving mercy of God.