RECENT COLLEGE MASSES
To the Salesian College Family,
In the past fortnight, the members of the Salesian College Community have experienced two very joyful and memorable Masses during which they have celebrated two very important events in their 2019 journey.
Firstly, on Friday 30 August, well over 400 people gathered at Salesian College to celebrate Fathers’ Day and to congratulate the Fathers, Grandfathers and Father Figures of the College for the most significant role they play in the lives of their children and families. In fact, so large was our record attendance this year, that it was necessary to celebrate simultaneous masses, one in the Auditorium presided over by Fr Lawrie Moate, and one in the Chapel led by Fr Greg Chambers.
In my homily to the large congregation in the chapel, I delivered the following message on the theme of Fathers’ Day:
“Way back in the early 1800s, a devoted father wrote a letter about his son to the Principal of his son’s school. Among other things, he said to the principal:
‘In school, teach my son it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat.
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough.
Try to give him strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon.
Teach him to listen to all people, but teach him also to filter all he hears on the screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right.
Teach him gently, but do not coddle him, as only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient.
Let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in his Creator and faith in himself too, because then he will always have faith in humanity.
This is a big order, but please see what you can do.
He is such a fine fellow, my son.’
This letter was written in the United States of America by a man named Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, a person who will be forever remembered for giving freedom to the countless slaves of his nation. However, Lincoln is also revered as ‘Honest Abe’, because he was a man of tremendous sincerity, trustworthiness and integrity until his death, and thus stands as a wonderful role model to all the fathers gathered in this chapel this morning.
Even so, we also have a very helpful role description of the type of people fathers should aspire to be in today’s First Reading from St Paul the Apostle. For, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul reminds his people that they should be clothed in ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ They must be gentle and tolerant with each other, forgive each other, be at peace with one another. And over all these qualities, they must put on love which binds everything together.
And as we sit here today in this chapel at Salesian College, maybe all the dads here are thinking – ‘how can we possibly do all these things at the same time and on the one day?’ ‘We’re only human, you know, not super-dads or super-heroes, as much as we, our children and our families would like us to be!’ And this is the thing, for God our Father just wants us to do our best, to give fatherhood our very best shot, to be loving and honest men who put the needs and dreams of others before our own to the best of our ability and effort.
And if you need a perfect example of humble, down-to-earth, effective fatherhood, look no further than the figure of St Joseph in today’s gospel reading. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, husband to Mary, leader of the Holy Family of Nazareth, carpenter, bread-winner and provider. His life is totally available to Mary, Jesus and his fellow citizens, totally open to the God who orders him here, there and everywhere, and totally happy to be a Man for Others and not Himself. Surely, St Joseph is not just the ideal role model for all husbands, all workers, all tradesmen, but all fathers as well, and I sincerely hope and pray that Joseph will help, support and preserve all the wonderful fathers with us today.
Finally, on your behalf, I would like to finish with a special prayer to God, the Creator and Father of us all:
‘Blessed are You, Lord and Father of All Life,
who has given us the gift of the father in our family.
Today, we honour him, and thank You for the
numerous good things that are ours because of him.
His love for us has been a sign of Your divine affection
and a sharing in Your holy love.
His continuous concern for our needs and welfare
is a mirror of Your holy providence.
And so, as we honour him, we praise you, Father of All peoples.
Bless him this day with Your strength and holy power,
that he may continue to be a sign of You, our God,
and a priestly parent to our family.’
A very Happy Fathers’ Day to you all!”
Secondly, on Wednesday 4 September, a group of fifteen enthusiastic and faith-filled Salesian students received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Monsignor Anthony Ireland, Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Region, during a special mass in the College Chapel in the presence of their sponsors and godparents, their families, friends and teachers, and a large representation of the College’s altar servers.
One of the students also received the Sacrament of Baptism during the Mass, whilst several others received their First Eucharist. These same students had also participated in their First Reconciliation in the presence of Fr Oreste Cantamessa and Fr Greg Chambers on Thursday 22 August.
We wish all of these fifteen students the very best as they continue their journey of faith and service in the company of the Holy Spirit down through the years. And we sincerely hope that they will be truly confirmed – strengthened and committed – to always live out the teachings of Jesus Christ and witness to his saving love for all his people.
Finally, I take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all those who attended and supported our Fathers’ Day Masses and Sacramental Mass, especially:
+ Our fathers, mothers, family members and students
+ Our sponsors and godparents
+ Monsignor Ireland and Fr Moate
+ Mr Robert Brennan, Principal
+ Mrs Knight, Miss Barcellona and Members of Staff
+ Development & Marketing Staff and Leadership Support Staff
+ Maintenance, Cleaning and IT Staff
+ Members of Parents’ Association
+ Musicians and Singers
+ and Altar Servers.
In the Lord,
Fr Greg Chambers