From the Parish House

I am an occasional fisherman.  It’s in fact a rare thing to find me in a boat, fishing.  It’s not that I don’t like fish.  I love a good flounder, snapper or flathead.  I have discovered however, that I am better on land.  Rocking in a boat and drifting with the swell of the water, even ever so gently, is not kind to my stomach!  I am feeling a bit queasy even as I write this.  That aside, I have learned that you need to be patient to catch fish.  A bit of planning is a good thing.  And knowing the spots to go and the right time of year can help.  I have also learned that sometimes you have to pack up and move along.  There will be no fish in this spot today.  Things change.  That old spot just doesn’t have fish anymore.  I need to move on and try somewhere else, or do something differently.

This week’s Gospel (Luke 5:1-11) is the wonderful account of the great catch of fish hauled in by Simon and his friends.  Having fished all night they had caught nothing.  Jesus then instructs them to put out into deep water and throw out the nets again.  This time the nets are full.   They are astounded.  But then they leave it all and follow him.  That’s interesting.  I think that if I had netted a huge number of fish I would want to hang around and savour the catch.  Perhaps even gloat a bit.  Having found that lucrative spot I would want to go back again. Yet, Luke tells us that they brought their boats back to land, and they left everything and followed him.

To follow Jesus, it would seem, requires some detachment from the great catch that we will haul.  We need to let it go.  We need to be ready to go to the next thing or the next place to which he is leading us or calling us.  The gospel makes it sound easy, “they left everything and followed him.”  But we know it is hard.  There are so many things to which we can be attached.  There are people, places and ways of being that we are not ready to let go. This can be true in our personal lives, in our work life and in our Church.  I was reminded of this recently when I was reading an interview with Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Cardinal Archbishop of Luxembourg.  I was particularly interested in the interview because Cardinal Hollerich has been appointed by Pope Francis to be the Relator General of the next Synod on Synodality to be conducted over the next two years in the Church.  In other words, he is the person who will lead the process by which the Church explores further ways to increase participation of all the baptised, to promote communion and to lead towards renewed mission within the world today.

Cardinal Hollerich reflects on his life as a Catholic priest.

“When I arrived in Japan as a young priest, it was a great shock. At that time I was a young man steeped in the popular Catholicism of Luxembourg. With other Jesuits, each one coming from a different Catholic background, we arrived with a model of Catholicism that we all saw very quickly did not correspond to the expectations of Japan. For me, this represented a crisis. I had to put aside all the piety that had been the richness of my faith until then and give up the ways that I loved. I was faced with a choice: either renounce my faith because I could not find the ways that I knew, or start an inner journey. I chose the second option. Before I could proclaim God, I had to become a seeker of God. I said with insistence: “God, where are you? Where are you, both in traditional culture and in postmodern Japan?”  When I returned to Europe ten years ago, I had to start over again. To be honest, I thought I would find the Catholicism that I had left in my youth. But that world no longer existed. Today, in this secularized Europe, I have to do the same thing: seek God.”

I think that we are also at a point in our Church in Australia where we need to let go of things and put out into the deep again.  Seek God again.  Look at where we might be being called.

Our Parish Transition Team will be launching a leadership discernment and formation program in the coming weeks.  That might help us as a parish to move to wherever God is calling us at the moment.

In the meantime I might look for some calm waters, head out to the deep, and try fishing one more time.

By Fr Brendan Reed


Parish Priest


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David Moore

Thank you so much for your reflection. Cardinal Hollerich's words can equally be applied to the Australian Catholic Church. If you go to Hillsong or similar churches, you will see the average age of their congregations is 30 years younger than what we see at OLGC. Worldwide, by 2050 these Pentecostal churches are forecast to have 1 billion adherents. Why? The truth is we are not talking to the young in their language and Pentacostals are. The Church is, at best, seen as mired in the past and at worst being led by a bunch of old white men who concealed paedophiles.
We have to wear the latter because, sadly, far too often it was uncomfortably close to the truth. But we can do something about the former. Where in Melbourne is there a rock band backing Mass? Why not start one here? Even making a conscious effort to only sing hymns written post-Vatican 2 would be a real leap forward. Why does the priest have to wear expensive (and irrelevant) vestments when an appropriately coloured shirt and a stole would do just fine? Would God be honoured less? Of course not.
The Church had its best chance after Vatican 2 but squandered it. Now, 50 years later, we see what happens when the wisdom of the Holy Spirit was ignored. But is not too late, just as it was not for Cardinal Hollerich. We have to learn the language of the young so as to offer God’s message to them. The alternative is to stay the way we are and watch the Church atrophy and die.
I am sorry to be so brutal, but like most messages like this, better from your friends than your enemies.

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Yolanda Torrisi

What a great message Fr Brendan. It really resonates on so many levels. It is so true, you cannot continue to do the same things when the world is changing at such a fast pace of knots that our heads are in a spin. However, as I always say pick out the best of the eyes of change and use the eyes to then add the mouth and and ears - Watching, hearing, speaking and we can all contribute positively to the changes needed to find God and grow our faith in the modern world.
Great words Fr Brendan ... and PS: love reading your Words of Wisdom each week. Great you're back from holidays.

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David Rush

I agree with Denise. A great message

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Denise Mulcahy

Thank you Fr Brendan for an inspiring reflection on the gospel as we move into unchartered waters of this new year, both in our personal lives and as parishioners.

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