Hundreds of students and teachers from the Archdiocese of Sydney gathered for Mass for Our Lady Help of Christians – the first to be celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher in his role.
“This is your cathedral my young friends, and you are welcome here,” said His Grace at the start of Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Student leaders from each of the schools of the diocese, including the congregational schools, their Principals and teachers filled the cathedral with song.
Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Office, Dr Dan White, in his welcome asked the students to think of Mary, our patroness, as a grandmother. Our Lady Help of Christians is the patron saint of Australia.
Dr White said that cathedrals are like picture books, they tell the story of the faith.
“Many of the soldiers in the World War I trenches prayed to Our Lady Help of Christians, and in wars since,” he said.
“She’s our second mother and mother to the 85,000 students in our Catholic Archdiocese schools,” said Archbishop Fisher in his homily. His Grace told the congregation that the correct name of St Mary’s Cathedral is “The Cathedral Church of St Mary, Help of Christians”.
He said when the original church that first stood on the site was built the Catholics of the colony were poor and powerless and up until then had to attend other religious services.
“The Church was in trouble in Europe, the Pope had been arrested by Napoleon,” His Grace said after the following Pope was arrested, he asked everyone to pray
the rosary. Miraculously, he was freed and he established the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.
“Mary said “yes” to God, her special favours were to help every human being. We can all say “yes”,” he said.
His Grace told the congregation that Mary was a good friend to have because “where Jesus is, Mary is”. “Mary is ready to listen, just ask for her help,”
Soloist and CaSPA student, Jordan Fuller, Year 8, from St Patrick’s College Sutherland lifted heats when he sang Ave Maria.
The CaSPA choir was conducted by CaSPA Coordinator Nancy Cincotta and drew on students from Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, Miranda, St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School Coogee and St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School Eastwood. CaSPA Musical Adviser, James Long, conducted a group of professional musicians.