Archbishop Costelloe explains the meaning and significance of the forthcoming year of grace to priests.
The Year of Grace is not a program, its organisers say; it’s an opportunity. Beginning on May 27 at Pentecost, the bishops will encourage every Catholic in Australia to ask: “Where is Jesus in my life?”
At a conference held at the Faith Centre on April 26, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB explained the background and purpose of the year to priests from parishes throughout Perth.
“The Year of Grace was a result of a long period of reflection, discussion and prayer,” Archbishop Costelloe said, having been part of the bishops’ committee formed to explore the idea.
“We really think that this is the work of the Holy Spirit.”
After the success and significance of World Youth Day in Sydney, 2008 and the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in 2010, the time was right for the whole Church in Australia to engage in some sort of shared endeavour, the Archbishop said.
“We didn’t know what that something was,” Archbishop Costello said. “But if Jesus is not both theoretically and practically at the heart of our faith in the Catholic community then perhaps we have no heart.
“This is my take on the reflection that the bishops’ conference went through over a long period of time as we thought about this idea of promulgating the year of grace.”
The Year of Grace was announced on the Feast of Christ the King on November 11 last year; it is about the heart and a call to pray more than to study. Each parish in Australia will celebrate the Year of Grace in its own way.
Paddy Buckley, co-ordinator for the Year of Grace said, “Each parish can do what it wants; the Year of Grace will be different in every parish, what we are doing is not prescriptive.”
Priests at the conference with Archbishop Costelloe received the Year of Grace enthusiastically, with many sharing their own ideas of how to make the best of the period.
One suggestion was that those baptised during the time would have ‘baptised in the Year of Grace’ written on their baptism certificates.
“Everything is centred on Christ in the Year of Grace,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“From schools, to churches and the wider community. It is not another program; there are no goals or criteria, it is a call (to) reflection more than problem solving.”