Bishop Michael’s Letter31 August, 2023
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
I have recently returned from World Youth Day in Portugal and it was a remarkable two weeks. Starting from Brisbane airport we first arrived in Madrid and then travelled to Avila and Segovia. There we paused with the great doctors of our Church, St Theresa and St John of the Cross, reflecting on the incredible contribution they have made to the spiritual life of our Catholic Church. Our pilgrims, 19 of young teachers together with young people from across the Diocese, made up our part of 32, led by Michael Otto and assisted by Fr Andrew Hogan. We then travelled onto Salamanca. It was the Feast Day of St Igantius of Loyola, who also had a presence in Salamanca and we were just uncovering the great riches of our Church.Word Youth Day was a spectacular event and with all our young people engaging with the Holy Father with the various liturgies and activities that made up World Youth Day at Lisbon. The highlight was always going to be the encounter with the Holy Father leading the Eucharist and prayers of our Church. On Sunday, the final day, it was here the pilgrims were reminded of the love that God had for each one of them and their vocation in the Church, that is, to proclaim Jesus Christ.
It was then onto Fatima, and for these three days we had an opportunity to pause, rest and once again let the tradition of our Catholic Church wash over us. Along with the rich tradition of Our Lady of Fatima we were reminded by the daily Gospel where Jesus gave his Mother to us the Church and us the disciples, and Our Lady of Fatima accompanies us on our journey these days as she watchfully looks over all of us.
It was a great privilege to travel with the young people and to witness the faith during the final Mass, with at least one and half million young people. Something that I will never forget is just how important our faith is to the next generation of believers. May our Lady of Fatima look after our Diocese and once again look after each one of you. God Bless.
In 1917, three young children came to this place of Fatima and with their sheep experienced something quite remarkable, the appearance of Our Lady. Now, 100 years later the square is full of several hundred people, maybe a thousand, praying the rosary, lining up to light their candles for petitions, crawling on their knees as sign of penance and some just milling around. Looking over the square it is a place of people whose faith is in the living God and of his blessed Mother. This really is a remarkable place where thousands and thousands upon thousands of people arrive each year with a petition or two and a prayer, but with a confirm conviction of our God who cares for us and entrusts his Mother to our care. As we listen to the rosary being prayed the pilgrims praying fervently as I can hear in the background a very beautiful prayer where Our Lady told the children to pray the Rosary daily. It is one of our beautiful Catholic prayers. May Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Fatima bless each one of us.
I will be on holidays during September. I look forward to catching up with you when I return.