By Natashya Fernandez
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has last month re-dedicated St Mary’s Cathedral to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.
In celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December, the feast day of the Cathedral and the Archdiocese, Archbishop Costelloe repeated the solemn act of consecration at the conclusion of the 11am Mass on Sunday 17 December, the third Sunday of Advent.
The re-dedication was held on this date as both Archbishop Costelloe and Bishop Sproxton were in Sydney on 8 December for the 2017 Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
To mark the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe made special mention of the words of Mary at Cana – do whatever he tells you – and how they continue to be at the heart of Mary’s role as Mother of the Church.
“United with her Son in his Resurrection through the mystery of the Assumption, it remains the dearest wish of her heart that we become more and more each day faithful disciples of Jesus, people walking together in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, hearing the word of God and putting it into practice (cf Luke 11:28),” the Archbishop said.
The Mass on 17 December was officially celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton and concelebrated with the Very Rev Father Peter Whitely VG, Cathedral Dean Monsignor Michael Keating, Assistant Priests Fr Conor Steadman and Fr Jeffey Casabuena together with a number of other clergy in the presence of the Archbishop.
Archbishop Costelloe welcomed everyone to the celebration and said that the Mass is also to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bishop Sproxton’s priestly ordination.
“You may remember that in 2013, in the Centenary year of the erection of Perth as an Archdiocese, I solemnly re-dedicated the Cathedral and the Archdiocese to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“I now intend to repeat this act of consecration in this centenary year of the apparitions of Mary in Fatima,” he said.
“It was Pope Paul VI who reminded us of the particular Marian dimension of the season of Advent. Writing in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus in 1974 the Pope, commented that ‘this season … should be considered as a time particularly suited to devotion to the Mother of the Lord (MC 4)’,” the Archbishop said.
“It is appropriate then that we give expression to the importance of Mary in the life of our Church at this special time of the year,” he said.
In his homily for the occasion, Bishop Sproxton said that it was great to be celebrating Mass at the Cathedral and enjoying the benefits of the work that has made the Cathedral what it is today.
“Forty years ago, I was ordained a priest in this Cathedral which looked very different to how it looks today. The Ordination was the culmination of seven years of formation and education in the seminary. It was when I had to trust in the promise of the Lord, that if he was calling me to be a priest, Jesus would provide the strength and faith to step into the future ministry he had in mind for me.
“The Gospel reminded me that Jesus has been a close companion with me through these years of priestly ministry. There are many clear memories that I have of the presence of Jesus when I have met people and they have shared about their lives and concerns.
“His presence with His accompanying grace of faith and strength has been only later discerned by me. These moments have become very precious to me as well.
“Jesus has reassured me that although unrecognised, He had been very close to me. I am reminded that I need to keep praying for the grace to see Him at work within me and in the lives of those He leads me to each day,” Bishop Sproxton said.
Reflecting on the Gospel of St John, Bishop Sproxton highlighted one sentence from the Gospel which said – ‘there standing among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me’, adding that John the Baptist answered those priests and scribes, who were sent to find out who the Baptist was by pointing to Jesus as the true Messiah.
“Jesus stands with us, is in our midst, even when we do not recognise His presence,” he said.
“There is much for me to give thanks to God for today. Above all, to be thankful for His faithfulness to me and each of us; for the gift of His Son; for His patience when I have been weak in faith and in responding to His call; for the consolation that He has provided in His loving kindness for me; for the people He has placed in my life, in the parishes and in the wider Archdiocese where I have served.
“I know that Jesus will continue to stand alongside me in the ministry to which He has called me. I hope that I can be one who can point to Him, helping the people around me to recognise His presence in their lives too,” Bishop Sproxton concluded.