Tag Archives: Connection

The Cathedral Connection 10 December 2017

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The weather lately has been amazing. It is only the start of summer and already there is talk of a drought. This shows how important water is. We drink it, we shower in it, we swim in it, we are even made up of it.

So it comes as no surprise that something so central to our survival is used by John to baptise his followers. To understand this Gospel a little more let’s just turn our attention to John. The family John came from was an upstanding family in the Temple who would no doubt have expected their son to follow in their footsteps as an elder in the Church. However, John chooses to not take part in the religious hype and ceremony that was waiting for him. He chose differently. After many years living as a hermit he came back to his people with a message of repentance. He caught their attention and his call to change their lives. This is quite a Gospel story in that in order for John to get to this point he has stepped beyond the bounds of his religious tradition to show people that God’s love is as available to the people as the water is available in the river.

Why may you ask did he do this? Perhaps the law was becoming more of an obstacle course preventing people from experiencing the love of God that was already theirs.

When we experience the mercy and presence and availability of God then we will do good things. It just follows like night follows day. We need to have an earthquake in the heart and our minds to wake us to the fact that we do not do anything to earn God’s love. It is simply given.

For most of us we have experienced a Baptism of water. But how many of us have experienced a baptism of an inner knowledge of infinite love? Once we have, then everything else falls in to place.

Lay Pastoral Leader

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The Cathedral Connection 3 December 2017

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As the season of Advent opens, announcing a new year on the Christian calendar, I have two announcements that impact on our Cathedral Parish.

The first is that Fiona Rammell, our Lay Pastoral Leader since June, will not be renewing her contract at the end of January.  Fiona’s family circumstances have guided her decision, one that I heard and accepted with considerable sadness.  In just a few months Fiona has endeared herself to many, and has shown her ability in leadership roles involving liturgy, pastoral action and education.  She was part of the parish representation at the Archdiocesan Synod and has greatly supported my own pastoral responsibilities.

The second concerns my own “future planning”.  Before learning of Fiona’s situation, I asked Cardinal John if I could be relieved of responsibility as Parish Priest.  I have noticed my energy levels slipping and have learned that next year I will need another hip replacement.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate and I now avoid night driving.  Not a recipe for effective pastoral leadership.

The outcome is that I will stay on in “Sacramental Ministry”, relinquishing my role in day-to-day pastoral planning and activity.  Another priest, though not in residence, will be appointed as Administrator of the Cathedral, and it is expected another Lay Pastoral Leader will replace Fiona.

However, appointing and introducing a new LPL cannot be a simple process and I expect an inevitable delay for my “movement”.  This will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it is important to share this information now to avoid rumour and speculation.  Please remember Fiona and myself in your prayers as we each make personal adjustments in our unique vocations.  And pray also that others will respond to the need to ensure strong, faithful leadership within our faith communities.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 19 November 2017

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As last year’s Year of Mercy drew to a close, Pope Francis had “an intuition” to call the whole Church to a “World Day of the Poor”. This would be on the Sunday prior to the festival of Christ the King “who identified Himself with the little ones and who will judge us on the works of mercy.”

The Pope explained it would be a day for each baptised person to reflect on “the way in which poverty is at the heart of the Gospel (leading each to) a pastoral conversion to be a witness of mercy.”

On this first World Day of the Poor, Cardinal John offers a reflection on the theme which will be screened at each Mass. He reminds us we do not live in the dark but in the light of Jesus Christ, “so we cannot claim ignorance of the struggles that people face in coping with daily life.”

Called to be stewards of the gifts with which we have been blessed, we can each help to overcome the difficulties of one another. There is generally good support for our weekly “Food Bank”, but the poor are not only those lacking food or shelter.  Pope Francis illustrates the broader sweep of poverty:

Blessed are the open hands that embrace the poor, bringing hope.
Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.
Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange –
These are hands that call down blessings on their brothers and sisters.

All this is showing us that the witness of mercy is only truly given in deeds and action and rarely in words alone.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 12 November 2017

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Have you ever wondered why the bridesmaids in today’s parable, didn’t share their oil with the bridesmaids who didn’t have enough? Perhaps they missed the memo to do to others what you would want done to you.

Is there is a deeper meaning here?  Maybe the oil is representing not something to share but something that is already ours.

I remember saying to my children you can’t have my faith. You need a faith of your own. What if the oil represents our faith?  Understanding the Gospel in this way turns it on its head. Just as I cannot give my maths ability (which has taken years of study to achieve), to someone else, so too, I cannot give my faith to someone else.

Each one of us needs to cultivate our own faith and we do this by being prepared, staying awake and with an awareness of the importance of remaining connected to God and present to all that is around us – God’s love shown in so many different ways.

So when the lamp (us) is full of oil (God’s love) we can be light (love) to those we meet. And to do this we choose (free will) whether to fill our lamps with oil or not. How we fill our lamps is unique to each one of us but no one else can do the filling for us. We cannot live a life of faith by proxy, but by being fully aware and part of the process.

We are responsible for our own oil which then will keep our light burning brightly in anticipation of the great feast that we are already part of and one day will share with everyone.

The practice of Lectio Divina which we experienced a few weeks ago was one way of keeping oil in our lamps. What other ways do you ensure you have enough “oil” in your “lamp” so you can burn brightly with love to all those you meet?

Fiona Rammell,
Lay Pastoral Leader

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The Cathedral Connection 5 November 2017

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Fr John Berry was parish priest of our Cathedral Parish from 1997 to 2004. He died last week, 26 October, after some years of ill health and care in the Home of Compassion, Silverstream. His Requiem Mass was in the Cathedral he served and loved so faithfully, on Friday 3 November.

It is difficult to summarise the life of a priest. His ministry is among people and within the circumstances, concerns and even contradictions of their lives. He meets their sorrows and their joys, and holds confidences which he can never share. His own personality can be interpreted or experienced according to the variety of roles in which he is placed. He is a public figure for whom privacy can be elusive. He is an individual who lives for the common good.

From the tributes given Fr John, it is apparent that he lived his priesthood with great generosity, touching the lives of people with compassion and empathy. I knew him as priest eager to give his best. He placed his communication and music skills at the service of God’s people with humour and delightful energy and brought dignity and grace to the liturgy. He lived a life of stewardship.

For all this, he offered his priesthood without favour, meaning that each person could perhaps have a different appreciation of his work. That is why an accurate summary is so difficult. What is most important now, is to thank God for the priestly ministry that meant so much to John Berry and to those he served, to pray for him as he enters the reign of God he lived for, and to encourage others to take his place in our crazy, difficult to define but extraordinarily wonderful priesthood!

Fr James

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