Pastoral letter regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations
September 8, 2021
COVID-19, Parish life, Bishop Brian Mascord
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ
During this time of uncertainty, I wanted to write a short note to encourage you as to how we might respond to the present situation through the use of vaccines.
This week, I will be having my second dose of the vaccine. I was guided by sound medical advice regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and also the teachings of our Church. Everyone has a responsibility to properly care for their own health. It is also our responsibility to care for the wider community.
Our Catholic Social Teaching is an expression of the teaching of the Gospel in our contemporary world. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of this age are shared by all followers of Christ. At the heart of this teaching is our call to be connected to others and care for them in accordance with St Paul’s teaching about our ‘faith working through love’ (Gal 5:6).
Recently Pope Francis described being vaccinated as an act of love:
“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people. Love is also social and political, there is social love and political love; it is universal, always overflowing with small gestures of personal charity capable of transforming and improving societies.
Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable. I pray to God that everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love; no matter how small, love is always great.”
I do recognise that some have reservations in getting vaccinated. If you do have any concerns about receiving a vaccination, I encourage you to consult with a trusted physician so you can make a properly informed decision.
Please know that I hold you all in my daily prayer and I look forward to the day that we are all able to be together again to celebrate the sacraments.
Yours in Christ
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
BISHOP OF WOLLONGONG
Given at Wollongong on 8 September 2021
The Feast of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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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.