Volunteers ‘enormous contribution’ acknowledged on feast of Ascension

19 May 2021

By The Record

Many volunteers who dedicate their time and efforts across the Archdiocese of Perth stayed for titbits after Mass on Sunday, 16 May, in the Cathedral Parish Centre. Photo: Ron Tan.

Recognising the spirit of generosity personified by volunteers across the Archdiocese of Perth was a key highlight during the Mass of Ascension last Sunday, 16 May.

Celebrated by Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton VG, the Mass was a fitting lead-up to the annual National Volunteer Week (17 to 23 May), themed “Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine”.

Joining Bishop Sproxton as concelebrant was Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John 17:11-19, Bishop Sproxton acknowledged and recognised the “enormous contribution” that volunteers make in the Archdiocese, highlighting the story of his own father when he fixed a broken cross at the local parish.

“One Holy Thursday evening, Fr Russell came to our home with an urgent request.  Only an hour or so before the huge crucifix that hung on the wall above the altar had fallen and was badly damaged,” Bishop Sproxton explained.

“An arm of the figure of Christ had been broken. Fr Russell was desperate, Good Friday was only hours away and the Cross features so prominently in the liturgy.  But he knew that my father and our neighbour across the road were carpenters and that they had volunteered before to help with maintenance at our school.”

Bishop Sproxton continued by saying that today we celebrate and recognise the generosity of the many people in the Archdiocese who offer their gifts and talents to help the Church in her mission. 

“Some may feel that their action is not that significant or important, but this is not true,” he highlighted.

“Every hour that is given by a volunteer helps build up Church’s mission and ministry.  We see the work of each person in the Church as the fruit of the Holy Spirit who is present in their life.

 “The Church, building up the body of Christ who died for us, as we acknowledge those who have given birth to it with great generosity to the work of the Church, which is the building of people who have tried to help … these are the people who step out and give their time for all.

CSSWA Director Steve McDermott introduces the agency’s recently released Volunteer Handbook before Sunday High Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 16 May. Photo: Ron Tan.

Catholic Social Services WA Director Steve McDermott said the Mass was the ideal setting to release the Volunteer Handbook, which lists Archdiocesan agencies that provide volunteering opportunities for anyone wishing to get involved in the “good works” of the Church.

Mr McDermott encourages all parishes and agencies to pray for their volunteers at a local Mass and to provide them with a certificate in recognition of their valuable contribution to the wellbeing and ongoing support of parish outreach.

Continuing his homily, Bishop Sproxton emphasised that next Sunday the Church community will gather to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.

“Which is the day when the Holy Spirit proceeds in the Church in a traditional way, and the spirit of the Church, the power of the Spirit and mission was to fulfil the promise of Jesus and pray to the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus’ ascension, he said, marked the beginning of a new time for the Church to toggle between the benefits of time, from the moment of power to the weaknesses of Jesus and His resurrection.

“With the ascension with Jesus withdrawing from this realm, it is possible for Him also to be present at all times, in all places. That is why it’s possible for us to have that experience of his presence in our lives,” Bishop Sproxton continued.

“And then maybe to reach across to anyone, at any time from any device, providing us with grace we need to respond to the faith and your faith with assistance.”