On Saturday the 15th August, the Church celebrates the important feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Being one of only two Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church in Australia, the day is given extra special recognition. Besides every Sunday, Christmas Day is the only other day given this special status. It is given this status because Mary plays an incredibly important role within the Church as she helps turn our gaze towards Christ. Her example is one that all of us can attempt to follow if we are to bring ourselves closer to God. The Assumption reminds us of the unique privilege bestowed upon Mary where she was taken into heaven both body and soul. It was not a resurrection like Jesus Christ achieved through his own divine power, but was instead a reflection of the honour Mary had achieved through her own humanity. In her Assumption, Mary is not only the mother of Christ but also our own mother.
When I had the opportunity to visit Israel at the start of the year I was lucky enough to visit the Abbey of the Dormition situated within the Old City of Jerusalem. Not far from the Upper Room believed to be the place of the Last Supper, this Abbey stands near the spot where the Assumption of Mary is believed to have taken place. The centre of the Church includes a life sized statue of a sleeping Mary (Dormition means to fall asleep). Above the statue is a beautiful mosaic featuring the images of six important women from the Old Testament including Eve, Miriam, Jael, Judith, Ruth, and Esther. This connection links Mary to the Old Testament and highlights her role as the central female figure of the scriptures. Around the room various artistic interpretations and devotions to Mary could be found such as the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. An image we have at Good Samaritan as a gift from the 2019 World Youth Day pilgrims.
To celebrate this very special day, our Encounter Youth Group released another video in its “Encountering the Saints” series. This can be accessed through Compass or via our new website (www.encounteryouth.net). This is part of a larger initiative where students and teachers have been creating videos to help educate and evangelise our school community. Every week we now release an “Encountering the Word” video, while last week also saw the release of a video about Mary MacKillop for the “Encountering the Saints” series. In future weeks we look forward to continuing to build this great video resource and expand into new areas.
Our Encounter Youth Group leaders also recently celebrated Mass with Br Pat as part of their investiture as youth leaders. It was great to have Br Pat celebrate Mass and offer a blessing over the students and their new badges. I have already started to see the wonderful work being done by the students and staff of Encounter Youth.
It was also a privilege seeing some of these leaders share their ideas with Sydney Catholic Schools Executive Director Tony Farley at the recent youth forum conducted via Zoom. I can’t wait to showcase more of these initiatives in future newsletters. For now please take a look at the new improved website where all initiatives will be advertised.