The Twenty Fifth Anniversary Homily

of the Dedication and Opening of St Bernadette’s Church 
16th and 17th September 2006 
Father Andrew Robinson, Parish Priest


Today, in this place, there will be those who find themselves going down memory lane. Twenty-five years ago in September 1981 this church was named in honour of St Bernadette, officially blessed and opened by Bishop Bede Heather. 

The catholic community of LalorPark felt very proud of their efforts which brought their dream of a beautiful new place for Eucharist, a reality. Altogether it was a most memorable day. It was a day which was the climax of much planning, hard work and rugged determination on the part of Father Tim Crowley, your former parish priest. Father Tim and his many housie helpers who gave unstintingly of their time and energy, to all who gave through the planned giving and those who made donations to raise the finance for such a bold venture. 

The parishioners of St Bernadette’s LalorPark can see far, because they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before them. This beautiful church is a testimony to the generosity and self-sacrificing love of others. 
v The story is told of a man living in London during the Second World War. Every night German planes appeared overhead dropping countless bombs on the city below. Buildings burst into flames, sirens wailed incessantly, entire blocks were reduced to rubble. One day, this Londoner was sitting in the wreckage of his home. The walls remained, but the roof was gone. 

The man was near despair. His home ruined, his city devastated, his country under attack. These thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. The man opened the door, and was shocked to see a small regal figure. It was the King! King George VI! He was touring the war-damaged neighbourhood, and had stopped at that particular house. The startled man welcomed the King of England into what was left of his home. 
v St. Bernadette was born at Lourdes, in France. Her parents were very poor and she herself suffered from poor health. Then on one Thursday, February 11, 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood; like the man in London during the Second World War, she was visited by a royal person. The royal person was none other than the Queen of Heaven, Mary the Mother of Jesus. Our Lady appeared to Bernadette above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The Mother of God was dressed in blue and white. She smiled at Bernadette and then made the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell on her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray the rosary with Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her. 

With Our Lady’s help, St Bernadette came to understand what Jesus speaks about to us in the Gospel today. As baptised Christians, we are called to follow Jesus by dying to our selfishness. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Taking up our cross means accepting suffering that comes into our lives like Jesus. 

We may be inclined to think of suffering only in terms of physical suffering, but suffering can be emotional or psychological. For example: 

• A mother suffers seeing her child in pain. 
• A worker who expects a promotion suffers, when he doesn’t get the job. 
• A child suffers, from fear of the dark. 
• A young woman suffers, due to the early death of her husband. 
• A young married couple suffers, when their first child is born with a severe handicap. 
• An elderly person suffers, who starts to lose their independence due to ill health. 

There are many ways in which we can suffer. Jesus did not come to explain away suffering. But, by his life and example of suffering and death on the cross, he shows us how to suffer. And now as our Risen Saviour, he fills our suffering with his presence. Yes, when we suffer, Jesus suffers with us and wants to give us the strength, to go through our suffering with love and dignity. 

Like St Bernadette, we have our own royal visitation each time we gather to celebrate the Mass. Jesus who is our heavenly king, comes of his own accord, and He comes not once, but often, always knocking on the doors of our hearts. Jesus Eucharist comes to us in times of sorrow and joy. He comes to us Sunday after Sunday through the Eucharistic bread and wine. 

This Sunday we celebrate and remember, that for 25 years, the story of the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus has been proclaimed in this community of faith. Each Sunday and weekday, you have gathered to be strengthened by Jesus, to carry your crosses of suffering. Your celebration of the Eucharist and your lives of loving faith filled service of others, records that you have understood the demands of being a disciple of Jesus. 

The Rosary has been called the Gospel on its knees. It is a way in which so many in this parish have come into a deeper experience of Jesus in times of joy, sorrow and triumph. Today as we remember the blessing and opening of this church dedicated to the memory of St Bernadette, let us also remember with gratitude, all who through death, have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, who pray with us today among the saints. So many of them gave generously while they were alive, I am sure they will not forget us in eternity. 

The parishioners of St Bernadette can be justly proud of what they have achieved over the many years since they have become a parish. As we give thanks to God for the blessings received, let us not forget in a special way on this day, the many Sisters of St Joseph, who over many years faithfully served Christ and the Gospel through their teaching and witness to the charism of Blessed Mary MacKillop. In a special way, let us also remember our own Sister Mary Noonan, who has served in the parish in the Pastoral Care Ministry for the past nine years. Yes! we have so much for which we can be thankful. 

Through the prayerful intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus and of Saint Bernadette, may be continue to answer Jesus’ call, to follow him as disciples, who know how to deny themselves and to take up their cross daily. 

We have come here today, to share our thanksgiving for the past and for all who have contributed to the life and faith of this place. We have come to celebrate the Presence of God here and in all our lives, wherever we are at, on our faith journey. We have come with a faith nourished by the Mass, to face the future in accordance with the will of God. May this Eucharist we celebrate today, be for us a special help, as we seek to be faithful followers, on our mutual journey of discovery of eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. 

St Bernadette, pray for us….Blessed Mary MacKillop, pray for us.

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