By Natashya Fernandez
“Life comes from God, it is not for human beings to arbitrarily take that life.”
That was the message Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey gave to the congregation who gathered for the Pregnancy Assistance Annual Thanksgiving Mass, held on 9 December at St Mary’s Cathedral Perth.
The Mass was celebrated by the Emeritus Archbishop, who has been a close patron of the agency for over 20 years. Some 100 people gathered for the Mass and to acknowledge the Catholic organisation’s support to women in need of care throughout their pregnancy.
Director of Pregnancy Assistance, Eric Jas, said the aim of the Mass is to give thanks to God for working in His vineyard, which is Pregnancy Assistance.
“We celebrate Mass close to the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the protectress of the unborn. In her famous image Mary is pregnant. The child in her womb is none other than Jesus,” he said.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe can lead society out of darkness and protect the innocence of babies in the womb and provide all women in difficult situations with good and loving family and friends who will help them bring their children into the world. We trust in the power of Jesus to change hearts and transform lives with love.
“We should be thankful to God for everything in our lives; our talents, our relationships, our blessings and our challenges,” Mr Jas added.
In his homily for the occasion, Emeritus Archbishop Hickey said that the annual Mass is to thank God for the wonderful work of Pregnancy Assistance.
“Pregnancy Assistance has been in existence for over 20 years and I was close to it at the beginning and remain close to it ever since in various ways,” he said.
“Even now in my retirement, I still say monthly Mass there and I will always be and remain impressed by the dedication of staff and volunteers over the years, and by their commitment to the welfare of those who come to seek help.
“For the mothers, for the children in the womb, for close associates, for the people who come hoping to lift big burdens from their shoulders, the hope of Christ, assuring them of their close companionship through the difficult days.
“That is a witness, a powerful witness to what the organisation stands for and what the Church stands for. In this life, Mary’s depicted in many ways, but often she is depicted as carrying a child and is such an inspiration to all mothers who carry this precious child in their womb and an assurance,” Emeritus Archbishop Hickey said.
The Archbishop went on to say that we are called to be witnesses of compassion, witnesses to prove that the truth comes through Jesus, through the Holy Scriptures and through the Holy Spirit.
“So be an important witness today as it has always been in the past, but perhaps even more so needed today. That compassionate witness to the truth because we are living in a time where other ideologies are pushing out our Christian tradition and our faith.”
He added that the scripture readings are appropriate for advent but also appropriate for the occasion being celebrated.
“In Isaiah, we listen to him very often during advent because in inspiring the people particularly in their captivity. He gives them hope that the Lord will look after them, rescue them from bondage to bring them back to Jerusalem to new life, to joy, confidence in the power of God,” Archbishop Hickey said.
He encouraged everyone present to turn to Jesus and look to Him as the Good Shepherd and know that He will not abandon us.
“Therefore as we must continue to do the valuable work for which I congratulate you and assure you of my continued support, let us remember that the truth will finally set us free, the truth will finally set Australia free from the destructive paths in which it is heading in many areas.
“Our faith must be strong, our union with God must be strong, and our union with Jesus our savior must be strong. And we know that when we listen to Christ, when we see him in action, when we know the risen Lord is with us all the time, we are assured the strength and our response is always true, we can carry any burdens if we have to but we do so with joy, with confidence but when we are dealing with others that we are confident based on truth will help set others free,” he concluded.