National Catholic Conference kicks off with party, prayer and passion

LUYH_Day1_090 (1)Media Release, 16 January, 2014

The first day (Wednesday) of the Lift Up Your Hearts National Liturgy Conference kicked off with a wonderful celebration of the Mass at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Wollongong, celebrated by Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong along with the Apostolic Nuncio (Papal Ambassador) Paul Gallagher, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore. Bishop Peter reflected in his homily that amid all the competing ideas and claims related to spirituality that “liturgy is the first school of spirituality” for Catholics.

Liturgy, which is the Catholic Church’s name for its public worship, is the theme of the Conference and judging from the packed Cathedral, soulful music and rich prayer, conference participants from Australia and New Zealand have a true passion for the Mass.

Archbishop Coleridge gives opening address to Lift Up Your Hearts liturgy Conference. Photo by Daniel Hopper

Archbishop Coleridge gives opening address to Lift Up Your Hearts liturgy Conference. Photo by Daniel Hopper

This passion was underlined in Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s opening keynote at St Mary’s College, Wollongong. His address considered the significant contribution offered by the Second Vatican Council to our understanding and celebration of liturgy. Rather than worship being divorced from the world, he said, “Liturgy is the epicentre of God’s dialogue with us now…it is for the world. It must have an eye for mission.” Underlining this point, he said that our worship is incomplete while injustice remains in the world, while God’s mission to bring life and hope to the world remains ongoing.

Following the keynote, and after a hot afternoon, delegates savoured the cool Wollongong sea breeze while they enjoyed a twilight dinner on St Mary’s College Lawn.

The evening concluded with a delightful party atmosphere. Geraldine Doogue, journalist and TV and radio host, led a festive evening where delegates reminisced upon the highlights, quirks and milestones in the Golden Jubilee since the Second Vatican Council’s ground-breaking document on the liturgy. The night was punctuated by wonderful old Catholic hymns and participants were issued with party bags featuring an array of gold hats, scarves and ties.

This morning’s keynote by Fr Jan Michael Joncas (United States priest and renowned composer and liturgical theologian), offered a glance back at Roman Catholic worship music on the eve of the Second Vatican Council and how sacred music has developed over the last fifty years including a tantalising glimpse of what the future may hold.

Fr Joncas’ keynote was a highlight for all the delegates including Bishop Peter Ingham. Bishop Ingham said, “Fr Joncas helped us understand the growth from just the choir singing to the involvement of the whole congregation fully active and participating. He emphasised the complementary participation of a trained choir with the congregation.”

Fr Justin of Varroville said, “Fr Joncas highlighted the critical role of the liturgy in nurturing our relationship with the ‘Living God’.” Jocelyn of Morely, WA, said, “At this Conference we are being reminded of how blessed we are as a pilgrim people. Those of us engaged in preparing and celebrating the liturgical rites are in a privileged position to empower the people of God!”

Conference organisers are delighted with the numbers who have signed up for the four day conference, stating that they had to close registrations a week early due to the overwhelming demand for tickets. The venue is at capacity for each day of the conference which includes a range of special interest groups on topics such as indigenous Australians and worship, multiculturalism and different styles of prayer and music.

For further media information contact: Daniel Hopper, Diocesan Communications Coordinator
0418 667 517 | daniel.hopper@dow.org.au

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