Archbishop’s Message – December 2017

The postal survey on same-sex marriage is behind us, and now we await the legislation that will follow.  That is largely beyond our control, but there are other things that are within our control; and we would do well to look at these, particularly as we journey through Advent towards Christmas when we celebrate the marriage of heaven and earth.

After a debate which was often vitriolic or worse, there’s a need to heal wounds and build bridges.  That won’t be achieved quickly or easily; and it will depend in part upon what happens in the aftermath of the postal survey and the legislation.  That touches upon religious freedom.  Some will see the vote and the legislation as a personal liberation which goes no further: so be it.  But others will see it as a major victory in a long ideological war in which the Catholic Church is an enemy whose influence and freedom are to be curtailed at every opportunity.  That’s why there’s a need not for paranoia or panic but for clear-eyed vigilance.  The newly constructed right of same-sex couples to marry must not be set against long-recognised rights to religious freedom which are fundamental to the health of society.  It’s worth recalling that, in the area of religious freedom, we’re talking about genuine rights, not exemptions which may be grudgingly conceded by government but withdrawn at any time in the future if government so decides.

An even larger and more urgent need in the wake of the vote and the legislation is to strengthen and renew our catechesis of marriage in every way and at every point.  This is the call of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia, and it’s time for us in Australia to respond in practical and positive ways.  This is especially true at a time when evidence of the trivialisation of marriage is all around us, no more clearly than in mass entertainment, particularly some television shows .

As the Pope writes in Amoris Laetitia:  “There is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things.  Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them.  We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we pres­ent our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation.  We need a healthy dose of self-crit­icism” (35-36).

We need to consider a new language in which to express what the Church believes and teaches about marriage, given that the language we have used speaks to too few.  Pope Francis again: “We need to find the right lan­guage, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appeal­ing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage (AL 40).

We need a new nuptial catechesis which begins long before engagement and marriage.  This would be the beginning of a journey on which the Church accompanies the couple at every point.  Marriage preparation can’t be consigned to a few sessions just before marriage.  It needs to begin long before.  Given how counter-cultural our understanding of marriage has become, preparation for it needs to be a kind of catechumenate.

But the journey doesn’t end at marriage.  The Church needs to accompany couples in the early years of marriage and right through their life together until death.  This also applies when marriage fails. The Church has to travel the road with those who are divorced and with those who have remarried beyond divorce.  We need to ask what resources we will need for such a ministry – educational resources, formative communities, celebrations for different moments of the journey and support for those in trouble.

Therefore, I invite everyone in the Archdiocese of Brisbane to think about how we as a Church might do this.  Married people especially will have ideas of what might be done.  I say this knowing that we already moving towards the Plenary Council in 2020 when it’s likely that questions of a lifelong nuptial journey and the Church’s accompaniment of it will be on the agenda.  So let this be our positive and enduring response to the result of the postal survey and the same-sex marriage legislation as well as part of our preparation for the Plenary Council and all that lies beyond.

+ Mark Coleridge
December 2017

Advent 2018 – Are you prepared?

The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. During Advent it is important that we prepare ourselves for His coming. We traditionally use an Advent Wreath and Advent Candles to help celebrate the season, all of which should be accompanied with prayer and devotion. The following links provide some material that will help you and your family as you celebrate the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas.

Franciscan International – Advent 2017
Catholics Mobilizing – Advent 2017

Edmund Rice Centre – Surviving Christmas

If you would like to learn a little more about the story of Christmas, please spend 2 minutes watching the video below.

Christmas Mass Times

Christmas Eve – Sunday 24th December (Vigil Mass)
4:30pm Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, Leichhardt
6:00pm St. Brigid’s Catholic Church, Rosewood
6:00pm St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Woodend
6:00pm St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, North Ipswich
8:30pm Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church, Eastern Heights


Midnight Mass – St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Woodend
Carols commence at 11:30pm

Christmas Day – Monday 25th December
7:30am St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, North Ipswich
8:00am St. Brigid’s Catholic Church, Rosewood
8:30am St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Woodend

There are no evening Masses on Christmas Day in any of the parishes of the Ipswich Catholic Community

Welcome to the Ipswich Catholic Community

On behalf of the Ipswich Catholic Community, welcome to our website! If you live in this area, please come and see us, take part in our weekly celebration of the Eucharist, and enjoy the wonderful sense of friendship and belonging which is typical of our community. If you are new to the area, we hope our website will provide you with all the information about the Ipswich Catholic Community in order for you to get started. We are eager to meet you and welcome you to take part in our various activities and ministries.

If you would like to see what is happening around our community, please view our calendar under the resources menu. Alternatively we have provided a link to our community news page below.

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“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

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“Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Pope Francis

“It means that we, like God, abandon the world of abstraction to engage the real lives of real people, in the ways traced by the pope’s apostolic exhortation ‘The Joy of Love’.”

Archbishop Mark Coleridge

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