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Brisbane shows face of Australian Church is changing

Cultures unite in cathedral

Multicultural flavour: Many cultures were represented at the Multicultural Mass celebrations at St Stephen’s Cathedral on August 30.
Photo: Alan Edgecomb

By Peter Bugden

“THE face of the Bride of Christ – the Church – is changing around the world, and by the day”, and Brisbane archdiocese is experiencing it, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

Archbishop Coleridge, speaking at the archdiocese’s annual Multicultural Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral last Sunday, said the change was happening as “we stand at a moment in the Church” when we are crossing a great threshold.

“In many, many ways the face of the Bride of Christ is darkening by the day … as the centre of gravity in the Catholic Church around the world moves to places like Africa, Asia and Latin America – all of them represented in the cathedral this afternoon,” he said, addressing a congregation vibrant with the colours of many cultures.

“What you see around the world, you see in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

“A great deal of the true spiritual (momentum) of this diocese is to be found in the communities that are represented in the cathedral today.

“And that’s why this Mass matters.”

Archbishop Coleridge was principal celebrant of the Mass on Migrant and Refugee Sunday, organised by the archdiocese’s Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care and representatives of various ethnic communities.

Many different cultures were represented in various parts of the liturgy.

The Archbishop preached on a reading from the letter of St James which said “By his own choice (the Father of all light) made us his children by the message of the truth …”  

He said the message of the truth was that “we are deeply and permanently vulnerable but we are infinitely embraced by a God who makes himself vulnerable with us”.

“This is the God who takes flesh and becomes one of us …,” he said.

“God embraces every human culture, just as God embraces every human weakness.

“And here today we celebrate the power, and the beauty and the truth of every culture that has entered this cathedral and every culture known on the face of the Earth.

“God takes flesh in every one of them.

“We listen to their songs, we hear their voices, we see their faces.

“And in here, we hear the song of God, we see the face of God, we hear the voice of God in every human culture.”

Archbishop Coleridge said that, “in the past these so-called ethnic communities –and I loathe the term – but in the past the communities represented in this cathedral were treated as exotic satellites”.

“But you are no longer exotic satellites,” he said.

“You are a vibrant part of what the Church is and does in this part of the world.

“And that’s why I as Archbishop am keen to do whatever I can to bring the energy of your communities right into the centre of the stage in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.”

The Archbishop said the future of the Church, “in this country, in this archdiocese and indeed right around the world lies in other parts of the world” represented by the peoples from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Bernadetha Nzorubara, a Woodridge parishioner who migrated from Burundi, in Africa, nine years ago, sang at the Mass.

Speaking at the celebration after Mass, she said her prayer on the day was for refugees.

“And I pray for this country, and my country too – all countries,” she said.

“All people here in Australia (are) my friends because all the people are from God – from one God.”

Maria De Vivo, of the Colombian Dance Group, said “we are thinking that we should be united”.

“We are seeing too much division, and it’s sad to see the things that are happening in the world with all the division that’s been there,” she said.

“I will pray for union, that we are one … and that we can realise that.

“We’re all the same; we’re brothers and sisters and that we need to realise that and treat each other like we are.”


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