Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Kellyville

Bishop Anthony ‘fine witness’ in the Year of Consecrated Life


Catholic Outlook November 2014: Year for Consecrated Life
St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 11 April 2010. Photo: David Tang.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook November 2014

By Ailsa Mackinnon RSM

It is a little-known fact that there are about 360 men and women religious who live and work in the Diocese of Parramatta. We live in communities across the length and breadth of this vast Diocese, reflecting the multicultural mix which makes Western Sydney such an interesting place in which to live. We cross the decades of age groups and are involved in many ministries, including education, healthcare, social welfare, parish work, retreat work and chaplaincies.

His Holiness, Pope Francis has announced that the next Church Year, commencing on the First Sunday in Advent, is to be dedicated as the Year for Consecrated Life. Belonging to a religious order (the Jesuits), the Pope has a profound understanding of the role played by religious in the Church and in society. In announcing this year the Pope said: “I want to share a message, and the message is joy. Wherever consecrated persons are, there must always be joy.”

There will be many events in Rome next year to mark the Year for Consecrated Life. These will include a meeting of young religious and novices, those who have professed temporary or final vows for less than 10 years, a meeting for spiritual directors, an international theological conference on consecrated life and an international exhibit on ‘Consecrated Life: The Gospel in Human History’.

Even though Parramatta is a long way from Rome, activities are being planned to take place in our corner of the world. The religious of the Diocese meet twice a year with the Bishop and the gatherings next year will certainly take up the theme of joy. Our diocesan celebrations will, hopefully, be part of a collaborative effort as we witness to the value of religious life in our world.

The highlight of the year will come on 21 November 2015 with a celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Perfectae Caritatis. This was the Second Vatican Council’s landmark document which launched the renewal of religious life across the world. Perfectae Caritatis called religious to reclaim their founding charism and to renew and adapt their lives to the living of their charism in a modern context. That renewal continues today.

Catholic Outlook November 2014: Year for Consecrated Life
Celebrating the Establishment of the Missionary Sisters of BVM Queen of the World (Australia), St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Good Shepherd Sunday, 11 May 2014.

During his four years as Bishop of Parramatta, Archbishop Anthony has given fine witness to the living of the charism of the Order of Preachers, which calls the Dominican to contemplate the truth of God in the heart and to share that truth with others. And in true Dominican style, Bishop Anthony’s homilies always invite or challenge the listener to contemplate the mystery of God a little further.

Each time he spoke to the religious of the Diocese it was in a spirit of encouragement. He encouraged us to be faithful in our commitment to religious life and in particular to be faithful to our lives of prayer, for in so doing, he counselled, the religious gives witness to the holiness of life to which we are all called.

As a religious himself, Bishop Anthony relates easily with fellow religious; he understands the joys and challenges of our lives. You can tell he enjoys the company of fellow religious and is happy to spend time relaxing in the company of those who share a common commitment to a life of love of God and neighbour.

There have been times, as well, when Bishop Anthony has had to attend to matters of a more serious nature. In such times his advice has been wise and timely.

The Archdiocese of Sydney is blessed to have Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP as its ninth pastor. On behalf of the religious of the Diocese of Parramatta I wish him every grace and blessing as he takes up his new ministry.

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