News from the Diocese

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Catholic Diocese of Wollongong serving the people of God in the Illawarra, Macarthur, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions of NSW
  • Holy Week Ceremony and Reconciliation Times
  • Journey 55 - Autumn 2014
  • Varroville Lenten Concert 2014 - Face to Face

  • Bishop Peter A Comensoli appointed as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Sydney

    Following the appointment of Cardinal George Pell as the Prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican, and the completion of his term as Archbishop of Sydney, the Holy Father has appointed former Wollongong priest, Bishop Peter A Comensoli, as Apostolic Administrator “sede vacante” of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

    Bishop Peter Ingham of the Diocese of Wollongong said, “I am sure you will rejoice with me in noting this appointment of a former priest of our Diocese. We congratulate Bishop Peter and pray for him as he undertakes this onerous responsibility of administering the Archdiocese of Sydney.”

    During the period while the position of Archbishop of Sydney is vacant, Bishop Comensoli will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Archdiocese. 

    President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart congratulated Bishop Comensoli on this appointment, “Bishop Comensoli comes well qualified to take on this role as Apostolic Administrator, and we wish him well in what will be a challenging, but fruitful experience.

    “While carrying out the role of administrator, the 49-year-old bishop will have episcopal jurisdiction to administer the affairs of the Archdiocese, and I believe that Bishop Comensoli’s intelligence and pastoral experience will place him in good stead to carry out these duties.”

    Bishop Comensoli was educated by the Good Samaritan Sisters at St John Vianney's Catholic Parish Primary School in Fairy Meadow, and by the Marist Fathers at St Paul's College, Bellambi. Following school, he worked for four years in the banking sector, while studying Commerce at the University of Wollongong.

    Bishop Comensoli commenced his studies for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Manly in 1986. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Wollongong on 22 May 1992. During his time in the diocese he served as Assistant Priest and then Administrator in a number of parishes. He was Diocesan Chancellor for six years and a member of various clergy and diocesan committees.

    Bishop Comensoli holds a Bachelor of Theology (1989) and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1991) from the Catholic Institute of Sydney, where he is now a sessional lecturer. He holds a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in moral theology from the Accademia Alfonsiana (2000), a Master of Letters (MLitt) in moral philosophy from the University of St Andrews (2007), and a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in theological ethics from Edinburgh University (2011).

    Bishop Comensoli was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney on 20 April 2011 and ordained to the Episcopate on 8 June 2011 at St Mary’s Cathedral. 

  • Bishop Peter Ingham's Lenten Message 2014

    This is Christian hope: that the future is in God’s Hands

    Lenten Pastoral Message 2014
    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (1/2 March 2014)
     

    My Brothers and Sisters

    This is Christian hope: that the future is in God’s Hands.[1] This is one of Pope Francis’ tweets from December last year, and I believe it sums-up Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel about how futile it can be to worry. You know, worrying is a bit like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

    Jesus starts off by saying, “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” (Matt 6:24) He is talking about our being so preoccupied with making money and placing our happiness in material things and in our ability to take care of ourselves that we fail to give God credit for his blessings.  

    And so, from this fixation on ourselves we then begin to worry about everything and we lose sight of our Christian hope: that the future is in God’s hands, not ours. Our worrying becomes destructive. Firstly, it creates an enormous gulf in our relationship with God because it presumes that God cannot be trusted. I’ve heard worry described as “practical atheism.”[2] When we worry we act as though God does not know or care about us. We live as if God does not exist. Thus we become practical atheists. Can you imagine if your children worried about whether you were going to feed and clothe them? How bad would that make you feel as a parent? Yet, this is how we treat God when we worry.

    Secondly, worrying does not improve our situation. As Jesus says, “Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? (Matt 6:27). In fact, worrying can even harm us physically through loss of sleep and other maladies such as ulcers and heart attacks. It can also make us difficult to live with.

    So, after telling us not to worry, Jesus prescribes two practical ways in which we can control our worrying. He firstly says that we should set our “hearts on his kingdom first.” (Matt 6:33) That is, we should be concerned about God’s agenda and the agenda of others before our own.  If God’s agenda and the agenda of our brothers and sisters is our top concern, then our worries tend to slide into the background. We are distracted in a positive way.

    Secondly, Jesus says “So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow, will take care of itself.” (Matt 6:34) This is a call to live in the present by focusing only on each 24-hour day. More importantly, it is a call to live in the presence of the Lord in prayer throughout our day.

    Now, here is where I want to address two very important points. 

    The difference between worry and responsible concern

    Our parents tried to raise us to be responsible and prepared for “a rainy day,” that is, for when life goes off the track. Taking care of ourselves and not being a burden to others is seen as a virtue. This is not the kind of worrying that Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel. I believe there’s a difference between responsible concern and worry. Responsible concern is practical charity, when you and I can do something to help a situation; so we do what we can to help. Worry is when you can’t do something, but you don’t want to leave it up to God.[3] Jesus makes this clear when he uses the birds as an example, as they are certainly busy workers.

    Our Parishes Working Together initiative, in which we are planning for the future of our Diocese, is an example of a responsible concern: it is something you and I can do to help our situation. It would indeed be fundamentally irresponsible not to do this.  Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.” (Matt 6:33). So, we are not viewing our planning as an administrative process of managing decline. Rather, in our planning we are setting our hearts on God’s kingdom first and living in Christian hope that the future is in God’s hands.

    Reconciling poverty in the world with God’s promise to provide for us

    The second point I want to address is, despite Jesus’ sentiments of God always providing for us, how do we reconcile that with so much abject poverty in the world?

    In response, I want to focus on Pope Francis’ Lenten Message this year.[4] He maintains that we cannot blame God for world poverty without also taking our own fair share of the blame. It is often our lack of responsible concern for the poverty of our brothers and sisters that is the problem.

    Pope Francis makes the point that “In every time and place God continues to save humanity and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor for us in the Sacraments, in his Word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor.”

    Pope Francis then makes a beautiful distinction between poverty and destitution.

    He says, “Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope.”

    He talks about material destitution: what we normally call poverty which affects people living in conditions opposed to human dignity. Just like Jesus’ warning in the Gospel today of not having two masters, the Pope says that material destitution happens when “Discrimination, power, luxury and money become idols.” He says that “Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.” So, what almsgiving can you and I do this Lent to ease the material destitution of our brothers and sisters? Our annual Lenten Project Compassion appeal enables us to give alms for programs to help people in developing countries rise out of the depths of material destitution. God provides for his people through our responsible concern.

    What form of fasting can you and I do this Lent as part of our responsible concern for others? As Pope Francis says, “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty.” In other words, don’t think of self-denial during Lent only in terms of how we will benefit but also in terms of how others will benefit.

    The second type of destitution that Pope Francis refers to is moral destitution which he says “consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person – is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope!”

    We need to ask ourselves this Lent what is the moral destitution in our own lives? What form of repentance will help heal this moral destitution? Do not be afraid to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. Pope Francis reminds us that “Confessing our sins is not like going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother [priest confessor], because this says it concretely. ‘I am a sinner because of this, that and the other thing [I have done].’”[5] I know that confessing our sins can be difficult, but we are all sinners and we all need God’s forgiveness. As Pope Francis reminds us, “God never grows tired of granting us his forgiveness”[6], and Jesus promises us his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Finally, Pope Francis identifies the third type of destitution as spiritual destitution, which he says “we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us though Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall.” The Pope says that the antidote to spiritual destitution is the proclamation of the Gospel.

    So, as part of our responsible concern for the spiritual destitution in our lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters, what can we do this Lent to proclaim the Gospel? Why not invite a friend along to one of the groups in your parish undertaking the Diocese’s Lenten program, Encounter. Listening to the inspiring words of Fr Greg Homeming OCD and Sr Hilda Scott OSB can be a great balm for our spiritual destitution.

    So too is prayer. How can we heal our spiritual destitution and have an authentic relationship with our Creator and Saviour, without daily prayer? As Pope Francis said in a series of tweets last year:

    The mystery of the Cross, a mystery of love, can only be understood in prayer.[7]

    Our prayer cannot be reduced to an hour on Sundays. It is important to have a daily relationship with the Lord.[8]

     Are you angry with someone? Pray for that person. That is what Christian love is.[9]

    My sisters and brothers, you only have one shot at Lent this year. I beg you to make it count for eternity. May the Holy Spirit increase our responsible concern for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. And may the Lord grant you and I the grace to live with joy and in the Christian hope that the future is in God’s hands!

    Have a blessed Lent and Easter, and may our Diocese continue to rest in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.


    [1] Pope Francis, Twitter post, @Pontifex, 14 December 2013.

    [2] Robert H Mounce, Matthew, Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 1991, p 80.

    [3] Tony Evans, “Overcoming the Stronghold of Worry”, The Alternative View, 7/2001.

    [4] Pope Francis, LENTEN MESSAGE OF OUR HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 2014: He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), Vatican, 26 December 2013.

    [5] Pope Francis, Homily at Daily Mass, Casa Santa Marta, 25 October 2013.

    [6] Pope Francis, Homily at Sunday Mass, Parish of St Anna in the Vatican, 17 March 2013.

    [7] Pope Francis, Twitter post, @Pontifex, 10 October 2013.

    [8] Pope Francis, Twitter post, @Pontifex, 17 October 2013.

    [9] Pope Francis, Twitter post, @Pontifex, 17 June 2013. 

    DOWNLOAD A PDF COPY HERE

  • 27 March - Introduction to Pastoral Care

    27 March, 9:30am-3:30pm Xavier Conference Centre, 38 Harbour St Wollongong

    Pastoral Care is a way of responding to the invitation of Jesus to "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). 

    This Introduction to Pastoral Care is an opportunity for people interested in visiting people who are aged in nursing home or in their own homes to find out more about this ministry.  

    For more information download the flyer.

  • March 14 to 16 - Fr Elio Capra at Picton Parish

    Come and explore Pope Francis’ exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” with Elio Capra at Picton on Friday 14 March.

    Download flyer here!!

  • March 13 - Exploring Matthew’s Gospel

    Over the Sunday’s of this year we will be listening to Matthew’s Gospel.  Like each of the Gospels, Matthew presents Jesus in his own unique way.  Jesus is the one who fulfills "the law and the prophets," he is the Messiah of Israel, the king and savior of  the world.  He comes before us as the teacher & lawgiver, greater even than Moses.  And of course he is presented as the son of man giving his life for us all.

    This year we are offering three sessions exploring the rich themes found in this Gospel.

    Download the flyer for more information.

  • Bishop Peter Ingham announces Diocesan Assembly

     

    Bishop Peter invites Clergy & Religious, members of Diocesan Councils, Parish and School Leadership Teams and all interested lay faithful to attend a Diocesan assembly on Saturday 1 March.  This event, conducted by the Diocesan Pastoral Council, is being held in order to continue the development of Parishes Working Together and the Diocesan Pastoral Plan in line the strategic directions Bishop Peter has established for the Diocese. 

    The purpose of the assembly is:

    • To strengthen the bonds of cooperation between the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Parish Councils, Parishes,  Schools and Catholic Agency
    • To inform parishioners and school families, parish pastoral councils, clergy and principals and other interested people of the achievements of the 2013 Diocesan Pastoral Plan and plans for 2014
    • To engage participants in determining the actions associated with 2014 plans

    The details for the assembly are:

    When:      Saturday, 1 March 2014

    Time:       10.00am – 2.00pm (includes lunch)

    Where:    St Mary’s Star of the Sea College Hall, Harbour St Wollongong

    The assembly will also be a time for participants to share their own initiatives as we seek to live our call as Bearers of Christ’s Love.  

    Please contact Darren McDowell 4222 2463 or darren [DOT] mcdowell [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au for further information. Registration is essential for catering purposes to Helen Bennett via email helen [DOT] bennett [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au by Wednesday, 26 February 2014 to book your place.

  • Casual Position Vacant - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Secondary School Student Catechist Program

    The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (Wollongong) is seeking a casual employee to support and assist the CCD Diocesan Director and the CCD Regional Faith Education Officers (FEO’s) in providing Catholic Religious Education for State Schools Secondary Students and in the facilitation of the Catholic Secondary School Student Catechist Program.  

    Key attributes include a desire and ability to embrace the Evangelising mission of the Church as well as a passion for and experience in working with young people and commitment to ongoing personal faith development.

    For more information and application package please contact Trish McCarthy (FEO Macarthur Highlands) on (02) 4640 8550 or Trish [DOT] mccarthy [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au. Applications close 5pm Friday 21 February 2014.