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Feast of Our Lady of Victories, Mackay

13 September, 2021

The Feast of Our Lady of Victories was celebrated last Friday night at St Francis Xavier Church.  About 200 people, led by Fr Don White, attended the celebration.

The homily, Fr Don gave, follows:

Our thanks to the organizing committee for arranging this celebration in honour of Our Lady of Victories. It has been a feature of the life of our local church here in Mackay for generations, and now, after cancelling the event last year due to the pandemic, we are able to gather once again to honour our Blessed Mother. As we know regular travel out of Australia is not possible yet, but hopefully will be in the coming months. Individuals and families who have come from many countries around the world have not seen their loved ones living overseas, including Malta. As we have seen Malta has suffered during the pandemic like so many other places.

There are good reasons to gather tonight and to pray. We recall how on 7th October 1571, the Battle of Lepanto was fought between a coalition of Catholic states, comprising Spain and most of Italy, arranged by Pope Pius V, inflicted a major defeat on the Ottoman navy in waters near Greece. The Ottoman forces were sailing westward from their naval base at Lepanto in Turkey, with nations such as Malta in their invasion path. The Christian forces defeated the Ottoman navy, with the victory being attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, October 7th was named the feast of Our Lady of Victories, later to be changed to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Those events of 1571 hold a message for us today, that in times of acute danger and hardship, we can turn to our Blessed Mother, Mary. Today, the battles might be different but they still matter to us as God’s people. In 2021, the victory we need is success over the COVID pandemic.  Now with vaccination rates rising all over the world on the rise, and with the goodwill of people in looking after one another, God is answering our prayers again, just like God did for the people of Malta back in 1571.

Tonight, is also a moment to remember the contribution of the Maltese community to our community of Mackay. As people came from Malta, they brought their faith and it enriched our local church. We recognize the decades long work of the Franciscan sisters, and Sr. Pauline, especially at this point in the sisters’ history here in Mackay. We know you are facing a big challenge with the Bill before the Queensland Parliament to legalize euthanasia. Not only is this Bill a challenge to our Catholic values to respect and uphold the dignity of human life, but also, the lack of conscientious objection for our Catholic entities is of great concern. So, Sr. Pauline, we very much stand with you at this time of great worry.

The 2020 statement from the Vatican about Euthanasia, the Good Samaritan, reminds us that the first principle of Catholic healthcare is summed up in the Latin phrase: primum non nocere, meaning “do no harm.”  Practically it means that we do all we can to heal, and if healing is not possible, then we care until our frail or ill loved one’s earthly life gives way to the horizon of eternal life. It is a principle that comes from Christ himself in the parable of the Good Samaritan found in the Gospel of St. Luke. The Good Samaritan cared for the wounds of the injured man, and then made provision for him to be cared for in the best possible way. This principle gives shape to how our Catholic hospitals and aged care homes operate.

It is unthinkable that our Catholic entities would be forced to allow euthanasia in their facilities, yet as it stands that is what the Bill is proposing. We pray that the Bill will be defeated, but if it is passed, then, may good sense prevail and allow our Catholic healthcare entities to carry out their work as they have always done, doing no harm and caring for our loves ones until they are called to the fullness of life.

Euthanasia bills over the world have started out with good intentions, but over time extreme situations have developed. What a paradox we have here in Queensland where our state government which has gone to great lengths to defend life during the pandemic, now wants to make it possible to end life. May Mary whose prayers brought a victory all those centuries ago, pray for us and keep us strong in defending life, and our values in this present age.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Fr. Don White P.P.