Homily: Marist College, 2015 Opening Mass

Sacred Heart Cathedral

17th February, 2015

Col 3:12-17; Mt 4: 18-22

It gives me great pleasure to offer Mass here with you today and to join in the excitement of being a part of the commencement of this great new school!

Since 1893, the Marist contribution to education in the Bendigo district has been an unfolding and rich story. With the commencement now of Marist College in Maiden Gully, that fine tradition has been reinstated in Bendigo and will be drawn upon, in striving to offer the best in contemporary education. In addition, I am sure that students here today, will go forward and like the many Marist ex-students in earlier years, you will make an immense contribution to society and to the Church in Bendigo and beyond, for many generations to come.

Did you listen carefully to some beautiful statements in today’s reading on the kind of people the early Christians should be? St Paul told the Colossians that they were “the chosen of God, the holy people whom he loves” and, because of that, they are to be clothed in compassion, generosity, humility, gentleness and patience. And when they ‘put on’ Christ at their baptism, all these qualities also needed to be part of what they ‘wore’. That is also a message for us today.

St Paul also speaks of gratitude – the things we must be thankful for; beginning with the very gift of life, and the gift of the Good News about Jesus. Our most important act together here today is the celebration of the Eucharist. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek language, via Latin, and actually means ‘thanksgiving’.

So, at the beginning of this new year, at your new school, we should take this opportunity to say ‘thanks’ together in this Eucharist. Students I am sure you have thanked your parents for the opportunities they have given you already. They have given you your life, your Baptism and your enrolment in Marist College Bendigo, where you will have great educational opportunities and you will also learn more about what it is to be a Catholic - a Christian, a follower of Jesus in today’s world.

In fact, St Matthew’s Gospel today tells us the story of how Jesus chose his first followers: His disciples. It is a really interesting story, as Jesus had been around the country preaching and teaching the people, but now it was time to select good people to work closely with him and to carry on his work. He needed to train men to carry on the message after He departed, and He needed their assistance in spreading the message while He was still on earth as well.  

So, One day, as Jesus walked along the shore, He saw Simon and Andrew fishing.  Jesus called, and they instantly left their fishing and followed.  Later that day, James and John joined them when they too received the call from Jesus.  They didn’t hesitate. They responded quickly and wholeheartedly to Jesus’ invitation.
Even though Jesus chose simple, ordinary people to be His apostles, they ended up doing extraordinary things.  These simple men changed the world by the power of their testimony to the risen Christ. There is a lesson here for all of us too. Do not think that you aren't good enough, or that your contribution is unimportant.  With God, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.  All of God's people working together can make a difference for time and eternity.
So, we have to say thanks also to the Marist Brothers, who in the tradition of St  Marcellin Champagnat, and through the Principal, Mr Mc Gregor, and staff here, they are working to give all students a passion for life, a love of learning and a determination to be of service to others.

Marist Colleges are renowned for their ethos founded on a sense of ‘family spirit’, which we see simply in the way they go about doing everyday things. They offer all students, parents and staff working with them, a warmth of welcome, acceptance and belonging. They will share life’s successes and failures with their students, and they will set clear standards of honesty, mutual respect and tolerance.

Therefore, it is my very great pleasure to welcome you all to Marist College Bendigo, and to ask God’s blessing on all who will study and work in this fine College.  So, in true Marist tradition, let us ask Our Lady, who guided her son Jesus, to guide us all, as we are ready to “roll up our sleeves” with a passion for work and a love of learning as we commence the new school year for 2015.


Bishop Leslie Tomlinson