In one of the largest Catholic school gatherings, up to 900 primary students and their teachers celebrated the feast day of Our Lady Help of Christians on 24 May.
The annual feast day Mass brought together students from 114 primary schools across the Archdiocese of Sydney to honour the Patroness of Australia at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Organised by Sydney Catholic Schools, this annual mass is a way to remind the students that they belong to a larger faith community than just their own schools and parishes.
It’s the 15th year that schools have jointly celebrated Our Lady Help of Christians. Last year, the feast day Mass was celebrated with secondary school students.
In his homily, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, introduced Mary as the helper for all Christians in Australia.
“You might think Christian-helper is a funny sort of surname for Mary. After all, Christians get all sorts of help: from God the Father… from God the Son who is Jesus and who redeemed us… from God the Holy Spirit… We get help from the Word of God, that is the Bible. We get help from the people of God, that is the Church. We get help from our parents, our priests and teachers, and lots of other places if we are Christians. So why does Mary have the surname Christian-helper in Australia?” he told the students.
He reminded them how during times of conflict and persecution, Christians privately turned to prayer, in particular the Rosary, confident that Mary would help. He provided three examples where Mary came to the aid of Christians, namely, in the Christian defeat of the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto, the defeat of Napoleon in Europe and the beginnings of the early Catholic Church in Australia.
Australia was the first nation to have Mary, Help of Christians as its patroness and to observe the feast on a national scale.
Archbishop Fisher told the students that Mary loves them with a mother’s heart and is always ready to listen and help them. He encouraged them to pray to Mary and seek her guidance, as she is their spiritual mother.
In a letter to her school community this week, Anne Colreavy, Principal of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary, Kingsgrove, asked families to remember Mary, the Mother of Jesus being celebrated in many ways including in her role as Help of Christians.
“In her role as Help of Christians, Mary cares for all Christians, especially when Christians as a community are battling adverse times,” she said, following on from an earlier Marian Feast day celebrated at the school to honour their patron saint Our Lady of Fatima on 13 May.
Almighty ever-living God,
who placed the love of Our Lady, Help of Christians
in the hearts of those
who brought the Catholic faith to these shores,
grant, through her intercession,
wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens,
so that, under her protection,
Australia may know harmony, justice and peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.