I speak with you on this occasion about a very important and challenging issue which has affected many people across our Archdiocese. I am referring to the tragic death of Fr Joseph Tran in March 2019.
This terrible news, and all the publicity and speculation surrounding it, has been distressing and painful for many people.
Because this news has come at a time when we are confronted by so many other distressing stories about the Church in Australia and overseas, most Catholics, in one way or another, are finding this a very difficult and challenging time. This is certainly the case for me.
I have no doubt that, even while you are trying to cope with your own distress and confusion, many of you are finding people turning to you and those with whom you work, looking for some help as they try to make sense of this painful time in the Church.
I do not pretend for a moment to have all the answers, but I am convinced that it is important for us to do our best to listen with open hearts to all who seek us out. If we can offer a listening ear, and perhaps a word of acceptance, of understanding and of encouragement, we may well become a channel for God’s gift of peace and hope. It is certainly worth trying. Perhaps, in this way, we can begin to move together towards a place of healing.
In order to provide some practical assistance, a number of people have been working with me to develop some resources which may help you. It is my hope that these resources will be of use to you, and the people you support, along this journey.
The new Centre for Life, Marriage and Family (formerly known as The Marriage and Fertility Centre and The Respect Life Office) have developed two resources, one to assist people dealing with grief, and the other to assist those helping people through grief. Please feel free to contact the Centre for details of these resources. The contact details for the Centre can be obtained at www.perthcatholic.org.au.
The Archdiocese has also established a 24-our contact number for those struggling with grief who may need professional assistance. Please pass this number to those who are helping with grief support and those whom you believe might benefit from additional professional assistance. The number is 0432 541 588.
Agencies such as Centrecare Inc and the Centre for Life, Marriage and Family have also offered the support of their counsellors at this time.
When we are struggling with our own grief and confusion, it can be difficult to know how best to respond to others who are grieving, especially when there are so many people in this situation. As a community of faith it is good for us to remember that now, as always, the Lord invites us, when we are labouring and overburdened, to come to him (Matthew 11:28). He is the one who can bring us peace and who can give us the wisdom, the compassion and the courage to reach out to others and support them at this difficult time.
Please know that my prayers are with you as together we try to be the living signs of Christ’s presence among us our strength and support.
Thank you, and may the Lord of peace bless us all.
From pages 4 to 5 of Issue 20: ‘Wellbeing: Building stronger communities that flourish as a whole’ of The Record Magazine