Launch of World Mission Month in Diocese

On 5th September 2014, the Diocese launch of World Mission Month was held in Dubbo.

Bishop Michael McKenna was welcomed to St John’s Primary School, Dubbo by the principals from the four Catholic primary schools in the city and the principal of St John’s College and the College Band.  Visiting school principals, teachers and students from MacKillop College and St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst, James Sheahan Catholic High School, Orange and St. Michael’s Primary School, Dunedoo joined with the two St John’s school communities to celebrate the occasion. The St John’s Primary School hall was filled to capacity.  

The title chosen for the Liturgy “When I grow up I want to be… Alive” took its name from the theme chosen by Catholic Mission for the celebration of World Mission Month 2014.   Materials and resources were distributed nationally to all Catholic parishes and schools in all dioceses. The Liturgy also expressed the individual charisms and identities of the two St John’s school communities. The launch had a special focus on the missionary Church of Jamaica in the Caribbean – a country normally associated with expensive tourist resorts, calypso music, wavering palm trees and white sandy beaches. Regretfully, there is little publicised about the darker side of Jamaica - especially for the Jamaican youth born and surviving in the over-crowed ghettos where life is cheap and violence all too common.  

A DVD, commissioned by Catholic Mission, revealed the stark realities of life and survival in the ghettos of the Jamaican capital, Kingston, where the Marist Missionary Sisters live out the message of the Gospels.  The documentary tells of Sister Ann Quinn of Melbourne, who is attached to St. Ann’s Primary School. Working with very limited resources, Sister Ann provides hope to the children in her care from the ghettos. Her role is very pastoral and affirming. She encourages the children to realize their dreams through learning and acquiring new skills as the pathway to a real future away from the ghettos. It is an energy sapping, yet fulfilling ministry of love, devotion and commitment.

Sister Helen Sullivan rsj, pastoral associate at Eugowra, and Ann Adams, formerly of Kingston, Jamaica,  and today a Jamaican-Australian living in Sydney, co-presented a special presentation that provided a “potted” history of Jamaica that complemented the DVD shown earlier in the program. It drew the stark contrasts between the perceptions of Jamaica as an idyllic tropical paradise and the realities of everyday life that the most vulnerable in society face on a daily basis. Sister Helen, drawing on her experiences as a former missionary in Papua New Guinea, made the very real connection between the ghettos of Jamaica and the “raskal gangs” that operated in large urban centres like Port Moresby, Lae and the PNG Highlands.

Bishop McKenna formerly launched the Catholic Mission annual appeal for the overseas and home missions and quoted directly from the Holy Father’s message to the universal Church for World Mission Sunday 2014: “Today vast numbers of people still do not know Jesus Christ. For this reason, the mission of the Church continues to be most urgent. All members of the Church are called to participate in this mission, for the Church is missionary by her very nature: she was borne to go forth’.

Bishop Michael also took the opportunity to thank all who assisted with the planning, organization and presentation of the mission launch, especially the two principals, Mr Anthony O’Leary and Mrs Kerry Morris, and their respective school communities.  Bishop Michael, in his closing remarks, commended the annual appeal for the missions to all parish and school communities in the Diocese of Bathurst for their prayerful support, discernment and charitable giving where possible.

Proceedings  concluded with the singing of the final hymn, “We are Called”, followed by refreshments in the St. John’s College hospitality centre. 

Special guests included Mr Chris Derwin, acting Executive Director of Schools; Mr Martin Teulan, National Director for Catholic Mission; Father Reynold Jaboneta, Chaplain to St John’s College and Dr Angelo Belmonte, Catholic Education Office.

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