500th Anniversary of the Reformation Commemoration

An historical event from the 16th century which left its imprint on many areas of society throughout the centuries and launched a history of learning.

Wednesday 11 October
10.00am to 5.00pm-  St Mary’s Cathedral Chapter Hall
Adult -$40. Concession – $20 (including  morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea)
Enquiries: (02) 9390 5172
Register here

Speakers include:

  • Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP –  Archbishop of Sydney
  • Most Reverend Peter Elliott  –  Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne
  • Reverend Mark Lieschke  –  Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Australia – NSW District
  • Reverend Andrew Sempell  –  Rector, St James’ Anglican Church, Sydney
  • Dr Robert Andrews  – Lecturer Church History, Catholic Institute of Sydney
  • Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton –  Chief Rabbi of The Great Synagogue, Sydney
  • Reverend Professor Gerard Kelly  –  President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney

inter-religious prayer gathering

Following the Commemoration during the day, there will be an Inter-religious Prayer Gathering and Reflection on The Reformation and its Relevance to Religion and Society Today.

All are welcome to this open event led by the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney on 11 October at 6.30pm in St Mary’s Cathedral.

Family Educator Showcase 2017

You are invited you to the inaugural
Family Educator Showcase.

Family Educator showcase logo SCS

This event will enable Principals, Priests, Regional Directors, Consultants and ARE Team members to gain a broader understanding of the Family Educator role , as well as the myriad of initiatives involved in the Family and Faith program.

The Showcase will allow guests to see what happens in different communities, encouraging them to be even more open to the role of Family Educators in the area of family faith formation and evangelisation.

The Family Educator Showcase will involve Family Educators showcasing 3-5 most effective initiatives/events that have been implemented in their school community. Each will have their own stall, with photos and resources on display, answering questions from those attending.

The Showcase will run from 10am-12noon.  The morning will begin with a short SPaR and then guests will wander from stall to stall for as long as they wish. Morning tea will be set-up for guests to eat at any time.

Please find below the dates and venues for each Region:

Inner West Region:         Tuesday 19th September (CIS Strathfield Auditorium)
Eastern Region:               Wednesday 20th September (SCS Daceyville Room 1)
Southern Region:            Thursday 21st September (SCS Revesby Room 1&2)

If you wish to attend any of the showcases, please register via your Family Educator, or  contact Meredith Lemos via meredith.lemos@syd.catholic.edu.au or 0457 808 626

I strongly encourage your attendance at this exciting event, in order to gain a greater understanding of the breadth of the Family Educator role and new strategies and initiatives to implement in your respective communities.  I also hope it will be an occasion where their hard work and dedication will be showcased and celebrated.

Thank you in anticipation for your support of this inaugural event.

Anthony Cleary
Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation


22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord,’ he said. ‘This must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.’

Fully aware of his own future death and suffering Jesus foretells his disciples of the fate that awaits him. Having grown closer in friendship with Jesus, and conscious that he was truly the Messiah, Peter is disturbed and pleads with him that this cannot happen.  He is astonished that the Messiah will undergo suffering and be put to death.

A recurring theme of Matthew’s Gospel is that the events of Jesus’ life were the fulfilment of the Old Testament. The verse ‘all of this happened so that Scripture might be fulfilled‘ occurs no fewer than sixteen times. At the time of this encounter Peter would have been unaware that these future events of passion, death and resurrection were necessary not just for the fulfilment of the Hebrew Scriptures but for the redemption of mankind.

Unwittingly Peter sides with the devil in attempting to deter Jesus from fulfilling his mission. Jesus rebukes him saying ‘get behind me, Satan!‘ and goes on to forewarn the disciples of their own imminent suffering. Whilst not speaking specifically of their impending persecution Jesus refers to the fact that Christian witness will have a price. Even before his own crucifixion Jesus refers to the Cross as a sign of Christian fellowship and discipleship.

Jesus’ injunction ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me‘ is a message to Christians of every generation. Many in the early Church were martyred on the Cross as a sign of their faithfulness. Today however we bear crosses of a different nature as a sign of our Christian witness. Often we experience persecution or marginalization as a result of our Christian principles or we make sacrifices as an ongoing commitment to and sign of the beliefs that we hold to be true. While we may not lose our lives in a physical sense, true Christian living is the giving of oneself to God and others in the spiritual sense. By rejecting a life of individualism and hedonism, and by making the needs of others a priority, we experience life in abundance.

Jesus proclaimed ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full‘ (John 10:10). Paradoxically, this fullness of life comes not from self-seeking but from self-emptying.    

Anthony Cleary
Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Matthew 16:13-20

You are Peter, to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’ Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Jesus’ question ‘who do you say I am?‘ goes to the heart of Christology. Throughout the centuries, Christological debates have been waged over the identity of Jesus and especially the recognition of his two natures, both human and divine.

When Jesus put this same question to his disciples it was Peter who declared ‘you are the Christ, the Son of the living God‘ (v. 16). Peter’s profession of faith is at odds with other episodes in the Gospels where Peter fails to discern the true identity of Jesus and the nature of his mission (Mk 8:33). Peter, who had once been admonished by Christ for being a man of little faith (Mt 14:32) is now resolute in his belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. His perception and understanding of Jesus’ true identity is divinely inspired, revealed to him by the ‘Father in heaven.

Not only was Peter the first disciple to be chosen by Jesus but he was also the first to assume a leadership role among the disciples and the early Christian communities. Matthew’s account, which clearly asserts the primacy of Peter is commonly referred to as the Petrine account and has been used by theologians to substantiate the significance of apostolic succession. Clearly this account reveals the significance of the Church of Rome, and thus the Bishop of Rome.

Jesus told his first disciple ‘you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church … I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven‘ (vv.17-19). Peter’s leadership becomes evident after the first Pentecost, especially in the face of persecution and suffering. There is no better example of this than that of the early Church in Rome, a community founded by Peter. Mindful of Jesus’ words ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me‘ (v.34) he endured great hardship and suffering. Ultimately he became a martyr as a sign of his Christian witness. However, Peter’s legacy remains.

Built on strong foundations the Church has flourished throughout the ages, spreading to every corner of the globe, offering people the hope of salvation found in the person of Jesus Christ. Just as Peter took on the mantle of responsibility to lead the early Church, his successors have risen to meet the same challenge. At the heart of this leadership is the desire to serve the people of God and perhaps the most apt and honourific title bestowed upon each Pope is that of ‘Servant of the Servants of God.

On his recent visit to Australia, Benedict XVI, successor of St Peter, asserted ‘Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth, can be the way and hence also the life.’ Perhaps this is what Peter had come to realise when he was first asked ‘who do you say I am?

Anthony Cleary

Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation

Jordan – Holy Land Pilgrimage 2018

Applications are now open for staff in Sydney Catholic Schools interested in participating in a 14-day pilgrimage experience to Jordan and the Holy Land from 14 to 29 April 2018.

This pilgrimage will follow the general chronological path of Jesus’ life, commencing with three days in Jordan where pilgrims will enjoy the salty waters of the Dead Sea, stop at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan where Jesus was baptised and visit the fascinating ancient city of Petra. From there, pilgrims will spend two days in Bethlehem and surrounds, before heading north via Caesarea on the coast.

Places in the north that will be visited include the Sea of Galilee, Mt Carmel, Megiddo, Mt Tabor, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Tabgha and Caesarea Philippi.

Pilgrims will travel south to Jerusalem via the Roman ruins of Bet She’an. In addition to spending two days visiting the traditional sites in and around Jerusalem, there will be an ANZAC Day memorial and a day trip to Qumran, Masada and Jericho.

There will be one day of rest and private exploration in Jerusalem, before returning to Australia.

Please click the links to view the promotional flyer and the itinerary.

NB: 20 positions on this pilgrimage will be reserved for staff 35 years of age or younger as part of the National Year of Youth celebrations 2018.

Applications and due date: The application form for this pilgrimage can be downloaded here. Completed applications together with a copy of passport are to be emailed to Robert Haddad at robert.haddad@syd.catholic.edu.au  or posted to Robert Haddad at PO Box 217 Leichhardt NSW 2040 by Tuesday 31 October 2017.

Funding: Successful applicants will make a $2000 contribution to the overall costs of this pilgrimage. Schools are required to cover one release day for Friday 13 April.

Contact: Robert Haddad on (02) 9568 8116 or  robert.haddad@syd.catholic.edu.au

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Matthew 14:13-21

They all ate and were satisfied.

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered, ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining, twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

The multiplication of the loaves is the only miracle, besides the Resurrection, that is recorded in all four Gospels. Although there are similarities across the four, Matthew’s account is unique for its mention of the death of John the Baptist. Upon hearing the news of his cousin’s execution Jesus was saddened and sought out a deserted place, most likely to spend time in quite prayer. Throughout his life and public ministry Jesus endeavoured to find moments when he could be alone in prayer to the Father. John’s death foreshadows Jesus’ own execution, and the persecution of the Apostles, and Jesus would have been deeply aware of this.

As in Mark’s account, Jesus took great pity on the crowd when he saw them and he insisted that they are cared for. Although the disciples want to send the people away Jesus establishes their important role in the early Church, that of nourishing and strengthening the faithful: “give them something to eat yourselves.”  Furthermore, by taking, blessing, breaking and giving in verse 19 Jesus not only foreshadows the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper but the Eucharist that we continue to celebrate today. The actions of Jesus in raising his eyes to heaven and blessing the gifts is repeated in each Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer as the priest, in persona Christi, prays: “Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy…”

The feeding of the five thousand recalls the similar miracle of multiplication performed by the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4: 42-44). According to St. Bede (Homilies on the Gospels), the five loaves represent the Torah and the two fish are the Prophets and the Psalms. Jesus is of course the fulfillment of these Old Testament Scriptures, which during his public ministry he will break open, revealing their deeper spiritual meaning so as to further nourish the multitudes. The twelve baskets of scraps symbolise the twelve disciples through whom Jesus will be able to supply an abundance of spiritual food and nourishment.

Today we have the opportunity to receive this very nourishment by participating in the Eucharistic Liturgy and receiving Holy Communion. We receive the living Christ, True God and True Man. We receive, as St Augustine noted, the “Totus Christus” – the total Christ, who is the “bread of life” (Jn 6:35).

Anthony Cleary – Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

Throughout the Gospels we are presented with many of Peter’s personal inadequacies, all of which are common to the human condition: his overwhelming sense of unworthiness at the washing of the feet (Jn 13:8); his anger at the arrest of Jesus (Jn 18:10); his fear of being identified as a follower of Jesus (Mk 14:66-72). Despite these weaknesses Peter was the first chosen (Lk 5:1-11), he discerned correctly that Jesus truly was the Christ, the Messiah (Mk 8:29) and he was entrusted to be the “rock” upon which the Church would be built (Mt 16:18).
The relationship between Peter and Jesus in this account parallels to our own relationship with the Lord. Just as Jesus beckoned for Peter to “come” to him, he does the same to us. This invitation will not guarantee us safe passage across tranquil waters of life. Rather, an invitation to Christian discipleship will be challenging, at times rough. Quite often we will be afraid, for the call to Christian discipleship is a call to a life that is counter-cultural and self-effacing. At times we will be confronted and opposed, even marginalised and persecuted for doing what is right and holding firm to fundamental values and truths. All along however Jesus is reassuring us “be not afraid”.
Within this account the disciples acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, but only after his miracle, the calming of the waters. This is in sharp contrast to many other miracles reported in the Gospels, where strangers were miraculously healed by virtue of their faith, that Jesus, Son of David, was the Son of the living God.
We do not need miracles to sustain us in our Christian discipleship. Rather, we need to be a people of courage and faith.


Anthony Cleary – Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation