Hundreds of people, including bishops from across Australia, filled Sydney’s St Patrick’s Church on Sunday for an historic Mass commemorating the preservation of the Blessed Sacrament in this country. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who presided over the Mass, pointed out that the site of St Patrick’s could be considered the birthplace of the Catholic Church in Australia.
“You might even say that the Church in Australia was born here as the laity raised an irrepressible cry for the sacraments.”
St Patrick’s parish priest, Fr Michael Whelan SM, welcomed those present and recalled “the lay faithful” two centuries earlier who had “kept the Eucharistic faith alive against the odds.”
In his homily, Archbishop Fisher recounted the story of Irish priest Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn, who in May 1818, left behind the Blessed Sacrament with the Catholic laity of the colony of Sydney, before he was deported to England.
Fr O’Flynn had been the only Catholic priest in the colony at the time and his departure meant the Catholics of Sydney were left without access to the sacraments.
The laity treasured the Blessed Sacrament that Fr O’Flynn left behind, praying before it in their private homes, on the site of St Patrick’s church today.
Following the Mass Archbishop Fisher encouraged those present to have hope for the future of the Church in Australia.
“The Church of Australia which began here all those years ago could never have imagined what was ahead for us 200 years later. They probably thought that they were doomed, that things were desperate, that they might never have the sacraments or a priest. And look at what was built in the generations after.”
“We’re going through hard times as they did, but God who is always faithful, even when we fail, promises great things to us as well. We have great hope for the future of the Church in Australia, as they did.”