Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton has last weekend paid tribute to volunteers at the annual National Volunteers Week Thanksgiving Mass, Sunday 14 May.
Co-ordinated in the Archdiocese of Perth by Catholic Social Services WA, National Volunteers week is celebrated across Australia from 15 to 21 May.
Parishes across the Archdiocese were also invited to commemorate the occasion and acknowledge the volunteers who contribute to their communities.
Joining Bishop Sproxton for the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was Cathedral Assistant Priest, Fr Richard Rutkauskas, together with some 800 people; including numerous volunteers from agencies and parishes across Perth.
Noting several individuals across WA who are being considered for awards in various categories, Bishop Sproxton highlighted that all have found the time to devote to organisations that are dedicated to lifting up and inspiring many in our communities that otherwise would be overlooked and left behind.
“The time that they give, with quite some passion, greatly contributes to and adds value to community projects and the vision of good people “who see a need and do something about it”, as St Mary MacKillop would often say,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“Volunteers are to be found in all areas of society. So, it is not surprising to find them in every community of the Church as well,” he said.
Speaking about his own experience of volunteers, Bishop Sproxton retold how when he was in primary school at Bayswater and Bedford, schools depended on the parents, firstly, to build the school by self-help and then, continue to develop the amenities needed for a more complete education of their children.
“Many of our primary and secondary schools were financed and even physically built by the fathers and mothers who gave up their weekends and weekday evenings for the sake of their children,” Bishop Don highlighted.
“These were great days in those schools’ histories. There was great community spirit. Without them it is hard to imagine what the vision of Catholic Education would have become,” he said.
Bishop Sproxton emphasised that these volunteers worked hard with the little that they had, with their own hands, using their skills without counting the cost.
“They did not just have their own children in mind but all the children and the families of their parish,” he said.
That tradition of volunteering continues today in a much more diverse way, Bishop Don noted.
“The parishes and the Archdiocese are more developed and complex now, and there are so many more ministries and services being offered because of people who find the time to make their contribution, all without expecting rewards or payment.
“It is why we are celebrating our volunteers today and blessing them and their generous contribution to the mission of the Church.”
Quoting a verse from the Gospel of John (VERSE) CSSWA Office Manager Grace Kurniawan said the scriptural passage speaks about the faith and commitment the Church community has towards God’s word.
“God does not require us to show grand gestures of faith and love for him but instead, God looks at all the smaller efforts of kindness and love we commit in His name,” Ms Kurniawan said.
“I wish to draw your attention to our Volunteer Handbook resource, which lists Catholic agencies of the Archdiocese that provide volunteering opportunities for anyone wishing to get involved in the ‘good works’ of the Catholic Church,” she said.
At the conclusion of Mass, Bishop Sproxton invited volunteers present for the occasion to stand for a special blessing.