The Bishops of Western Australia have this month gathered in Perth for the annual Australian Catholic Bishops’ plenary assembly via teleconference because of travel restrictions.
This year, each state’s consortium of bishops and apostolic administrators will virtually join the bi-annual meeting from each state’s respective major city.
A unique occurrence took place locally on 9 May with all the WA bishops present in Perth to celebrate Sunday Mass.
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB was the principal celebrant of the Mass, joined by concelebrants Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan, Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey, Broome Apostolic Administrator Monsignor Paul Boyers, Perth Vicar General Father Peter Whitely VG, Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Fr Greg Donovan, and Lynwood/Langford Parish Priest Fr Terry Raj, and assisted by Permanent Deacon Bruce Talbot.
Bishop Morrissey gave the homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter based on the Gospel of John 15:9-17.
“Last Sunday, we had Jesus saying that He was ‘the true Vine’, the Father was the vine dresser and that we are the branches called to produce good fruit. Part of that process is the pruning of the branches,” the Bishop of Geraldton began.
“As I think and remember that reading, it speaks about the importance of relationships and connections in our lives. We are all part of the vine. The foundation of that relationship for people of faith is their relationship with Jesus Christ and through Jesus to God the Father.
“This Sunday, Jesus tells us at what level and depth that relationship should be with Him and each other.”
We are not servants to Jesus, he added, we are friends.
“The true friend is always present. This model of friendship is revealed through the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Himself.
“True and authentic relationships are not found in centring on our own needs which can lead to darkness and despair. It is always found in the other in our life and leads us into the light.”
Noting that 9 May was Mother’s Day, Bishop Morrissey expressed the “wonderful example we have in our mothers of true and effective relationships, especially between the mother and the child”.
“As Jesus formed His disciples, He also knows He must leave them, and therefore these particular passages in John’s Gospel are called ‘the farewell discourses’. Unless He leaves, they will not grow and take on for themselves what He has taught them.
“However, the connection remains for people of faith through the gift of Holy Spirit. Peter sees this happening with the Roman Centurion Cornelius when he visits them. They have already come to know who Jesus is and want to know more,” Bishop Morrissey continued.
“Like the Spirit, mothers always remain with us no matter where we go or where we live. Many of your mothers live overseas. Today, we especially keep in prayer, thought and action the people of India where many of your mothers live.”
Australia, he highlighted, is connected to India by the Indian Ocean.
“Our prayer this morning is to open our hearts to India, to you present at this Mass who have families and friends in India which would cause deep distress for you at this time of uncertainty and doubt. Our common faith and relationships call us to reach out and to do something.
“St Mary of the Cross MacKillop said: ‘never see a need without doing something about it’. Jesus Christ, who is the true vine connecting us all in faith, calls to do just that … reach out in action to the one in need,” Bishop Morrissey concluded.