Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has encouraged Perth Catholics to reflect on Jesus as the face of the Father’s mercy.
Speaking to parishioners at the Ellenbrook Parish St Helena’s Church on the occasion its 10th anniversary, in addition to the blessing and opening of the new Columbarium and Rosary Garden, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the parable of the prodigal son from Luke’s gospel.
“When Jesus speaks that parable, it’s God speaking to us about who he God the Father is,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
Archbishop Costelloe then noted that it was Pope Francis, who was elected Pope just a year after Archbishop Costelloe was appointed, who has invited the church to reflect deeply on Jesus as the face of the Father’s mercy.
“This Jesus that I’ve just been speaking about, who is God among us, is particularly for us, the face of the Father’s mercy.
Archbishop Costelloe was joined for the occasion by concelebrants Ellenbrook Parish Priest, Fr Bonaventure Echeta and St Charles Seminary Vice Rector Fr Francis Huy Nguyen, who was the foundation priest from 2012 to 2014.
The occasion was limited to attendance 150 parishioners and members of the parish community inside the Church because of COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time, with many more seated outside.
The parish, which encompasses Ellenbrook, Henley Brook, Aveley, Belhus, Upper Swan, The Vines and Barabham, was created 25 March 2012 with Fr Francis Huy Nguyen as the first Parish Priest.
Current Parish Priest Fr Bonaventure Echeta, who was appointed in 2014, said the occasion was one of joy and blessing, particularly given how much the parish has grown and changed over the past 10 years.
“The occasion has been one of renewal of the faith and community spirit,” Fr Bonaventure explained.
“It is a very community-based parish, with a lovely range of cultural identities, young and old, who support each other,” he said.
Fr Bonaventure explained that the Columbarium and Rosary Garden was built, thanks to the generous support of the parish and school community, and contains some 1300 single and double niches.
Building of the Columbarium was completed by Kee Group and co-ordinated by parishioner David Holbrook from the parish building and maintenance committee.
Continuing his homily, Archbishop Costelloe also spoke about the father of the prodigal son, and in reference to God as our Father.
“The parable, of course, is about God as our Father who doesn’t act the way most parents might act.
“God our father doesn’t look at us when we have sinned and failed and think, ‘Well, now I’ve got to punish them. Now they’ve got to be taught their lesson. Now I’ve got to do something to make sure they don’t do it again.’
“The father does do something. But what does he do? He throws his arms around his son, and gives him a big hug, and welcomes him back and throws a party to celebrate.”
One of the reasons why Jesus was rejected by so many of the people of his own time, Archbishop Costelloe explained, was because the leaders and people of the time couldn’t cope with the image of God, His father, that Jesus was putting forward to them.
“At the heart of our faith, is belief in an unbelievably generous and merciful and compassionate and forgiving God.
“This is the God we come together to worship and to celebrate and to listen to, and to take into our lives so that we can then take this God with us as we leave Mass and go out into the world to spread this Good News about what God is really like.”
And how do we spread it, Archbishop Costelloe asked?
“We spread it by showing in our way of dealing with people, the same compassion and mercy and forgiveness and large-heartedness. This, I think, pretty well sums up the vocation of your parish.
Article also published in The Record Magazine Issue 36 Page 24-25.