Members of Plenary Council pray for Christian unity
July 6, 2022
Members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia were encouraged on Tuesday evening to embrace the “new and demanding urgency” of ecumenism.
Bishop Michael McKenna, the chair of the Bishops Commission for Christian Unity and Inter-religious Dialogue, celebrated Mass at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral for the unity of Christians.
Darwin Bishop Emeritus Eugene Hurley (pictured above), during his homily, reflected on the fact that when he was ordained as a bishop, he took the motto “Ut Unum Sint”, a Latin translation of Jesus’ prayer to the Father: “That they may be one” (John 17:2).
It was also the title of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical addressing the unity of Christians.
The motto represented his “deep desire” to work actively towards Christian unity. Inspired by the words and witness of Pope John Paul II, Bishop Hurley stressed that ecumenism is not an “appendix” to the work of the Church, but fundamental to it.
He reflected on an experience he had visiting somebody’s family home for dinner when he was a younger priest, where the son had been sent to the corner for time-out. He was doing a puzzle, and Bishop Hurley pointed out that there was “a bit missing”.
It was a small piece, he said, and was “probably flicked into the bin”. Even so, leaving it out “ruined the whole picture”.
“We are the Body of Christ,” he said. “All parts of the body work for the good of the whole. We cannot afford to have missing bits.
“We were taught by Jesus to pray ‘Our Father’. He did not teach us to pray ‘My Father’. We need to live that out.”
Concluding the homily, Bishop Hurley suggested that with the task of ecumenism, the Church’s prayer might be:
“In the jigsaw of life, let me not be the bit that’s missing, but rather, the bit that complements all those other bits around me, and so build up the Body of Christ.”
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Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.