In reflective and uplifting celebrations, over 1,600 Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong students were represented at the annual Year 6 Masses which featured inspiring homilies by the Bishop of Wollongong, Most Rev. Brian Mascord DD aimed at connecting students to their faith and to one another.
The series of Masses saw students, staff, clergy, and guests from 30 schools congregate as faith-filled communities in four regional clusters across the diocese - St Paul's, Camden; St Joseph's, Bulli; All Saints Catholic Parish, Shellharbour City; and Our Lady Help of Christians, Rosemeadow.
The Masses—collaboratively planned and led by students—were concelebrated with priests from the schools represented, and provided an opportunity for students to connect with their faith and develop a deeper understanding of how they might embrace it as they take their next steps into secondary school.
Year 6 Holy Cross, Helensburgh student, Maddie Bell, said, "Mass with Bishop Mascord was an amazing opportunity to experience our faith with other Catholic schools. The lunch and celebration after Mass was so much fun as we got to chat with other students and make new friends.”
Religious Education Coordinator at Our Lady Help of Christians, Rosemeadow, Megan O’Sullivan, said the Mass was a wonderful chance for students and staff to come together with Bishop Brian and parish priests in a celebration of the Eucharist.
“All students had great presence and reverence," she said. "The gathering was a beautiful celebration of our faith. Students demonstrated pride in the proclamation of the Word, being part of the procession, the offertory, a liturgical movement, and joining in song.”
During his homilies, Bishop Brian encouraged students to reflect on what was most precious to them and gave examples of formative family stories that shaped the person he is today. He also spoke of the importance of leaning into Jesus and others when we need help.
Year 6 St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral student, Jazmin Gallina, said, “I loved the stories Bishop Brian told during Mass, and the band that played during lunch was awesome!"
Following each Mass, students enjoyed music provided by the Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong NET Team and had an opportunity to meet and talk with other children who would also be attending high school with them next year.
CEDoW Education Officer CLEM Primary, Mouna Roche, said that as we transition towards a post-COVID time where school communities can once again gather for these significant Liturgical celebrations, the Masses were a special opportunity for Bishop Brian to celebrate Mass with students across the diocese.
“There was a palpable excitement in the air as students arrived from across the diocese. It was wonderful to see students introducing themselves and interacting with one another during the Masses and at the lunchtime concerts.”
Thank you to members of the Catholic Life, Education and Mission team (CLEM) for their organisation of the Masses, and the NET team for sharing their gift of music.