Posted on: December 24, 2019
2019 Christmas Message
My dear people,
WE have arrived at this time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is an important part of the salvation of the human race; it is truly the saviour of the whole world who is born among us to show us true and authentic humanity and how to live our humanity.
This birth of the Son of God should bring us joy because it represents the light which removes all darkness, particularly the darkness of sin.
But we can sometimes ask ourselves how to be joyful when there are tragedies all around us. At the moment we think of all those affected by the fires all over Australia; this has been a tragedy for those who must now live their lives without their loved ones who have died in the fires. We think also of all those who have lost their belongings and their way of life in the fires, finding themselves homeless this Christmas. Furthermore, we think of all other families who will celebrate this Christmas for the first time without someone they love; some of them, members of our community. We think of the homeless and the refugees. How to have joy in the heart with all this pain and suffering?
The answer is simple: our celebration of the birth of Jesus does not make us ignore the sufferings of our neighbours. But it is the birth of Jesus which allows us to remember that no suffering is in vain because Jesus showed us that his suffering served to save the world. It is the birth of Jesus which enables us to soldier on, giving us the strength and courage we need to look after each other when tragedy strikes.
As the year comes to an end I would like to sincerely thank, from the bottom of my heart, all the people who contribute to making our parish the wonderful community it is. I thank the office staff, the members of the PPC, the coordinators of ministries, everyone involved in all the ministries and most importantly all of you the disciples of Jesus Christ here at St Catherine of Siena Caroline Springs. Thank you for your support and your love, which I treasure immensely.
And, of course, I wish you and all your loved ones, near and far, a very Merry Christmas. May the celebration of the birth of Jesus illuminate our hearts and enable us to bring hope to all the world.
Posted on: May 15, 2017
2017 Stewardship Campaign Message
I hope you had a meaningful celebration of the Holy Week which culminated on Easter Sunday. During this time we are also celebrating the feast of Our Parish Patron, St Catherine of Siena. Happy Feast Day to you!
It is with great joy and profound gratitude to God and to all of you, Parishioners that I write these words. What a wonderful Parish and a magnificent Church we have here at Caroline Springs! For about 11 years our Parish has lived as a worshipping and serving community under the guidance of our beloved Fr John Tollan. During the few months I have been here, I have experienced and been very grateful for your warm welcome, acceptance, smiles and hellos. As you are aware, I am still settling in my new role and am getting to know you better.
The Parish is becoming more familiar to me, and I feel more and more blessed, though unworthy, to be here as your Pastor, Leader, father, brother, friend et al. Together we all create one Family of St Catherine’s. It is OUR Parish Community, Our Home – we own it. Everyone, regardless of age adds their talents, experience, time and energy. It is here that we celebrate our Faith and share with others our gifts, our joys and sorrows. That is the true spirit of those who profess Faith in Jesus who invites us to continue his example of humble, compassionate service for humanity.
Our Stewardship Renewal is an opportunity for us to re-commit ourselves to the invitation to be Disciples of Christ. I hope and pray that these coming weeks of renewal will be a time of opportunity for all of us to respond to the Parish Vision, that each and every one of us has an important role to play in building OUR Parish.
I thank you sincerely for being a part of Our Parish Family. You are important to me, to US.
May God continue to bless you!
Rev Fr Joseph Olickal, MC
Posted on: April 18, 2017
2017 Easter Message
Christ is Risen!
Alleluia, Alleluia (God be praised)!
I wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter!
This morning we have several children to share in the Holy Eucharist on this most important celebration of our Faith. Dear children, I am sure you all have received Easter eggs as part of your Easter gift.
I will tell you a story. You like stories, right? This is about little Johnny who was 10 years of age but only in grade 2 at school. He was a bit abnormal, had a slow mind and an incurable illness which was slowly killing him. The teacher had a hard time making him understand things. Two weeks before Easter, the teacher told the students, Johnny and 18 others, the story of Jesus and his resurrection. And in order to explain the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of them a large plastic egg.
She said to them, ‘Now, I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. “Do you understand?” “Yes Miss”, all the 18 children answered with enthusiasm – all except Johnny. He just listened intently. The teacher was not sure if Johnny understood the assignment.
The next day, all the nineteen students placed their eggs on the table. The teacher began opening the eggs one by one. She opened the first egg and found a flower. And she said, “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life.” A small girl waved her arm and said, “That’s my egg, Miss.”
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly. The teacher held it up and said, “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, well done!” Little Suzy smiled proudly and said, “Miss, that one is mine!”
Then the teacher opened the next egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely, it must be little Johnny’s; of course he didn’t understand, she thought. Because she didn’t want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.
Suddenly Johnny spoke up. “Miss, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Teacher said, “But Johnny, your egg is empty!” He looked into her eyes and said, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too!”
Time stopped. When she could speak again, she asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” He said, “Oh yes! Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!” The recess bell rang. While the children ran out into the schoolyard, the teacher cried.
Three months later, little Johnny died. Those who paid their respects were surprised to find 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.
Yes, that is the message of Easter, life extends beyond the tomb.
This is what Mary Magdalen found when she went to the tomb of Jesus early that Sunday. An empty tomb. But that is not the focus of Easter or of Christian faith. The focus is on the Risen Lord. Not on the despair and emptiness of life, but on hope and a bright future ahead. And Christianity was born from that empty tomb. Christianity was born from what appeared to be a hopeless situation, but now giving hope to millions and even billions of people across the centuries.
Look around us and see the emptiness around us. In his Easter message this year our Archbishop was talking about the various types of emptiness we experience and observe today. The tragedies in Egypt, in the European countries and the Middle East, Persecuted Christians across the world. Personal lives, Family life and many more. The Archbishop reminds us that we are, through Jesus’ cross and resurrection, all one. We need to hope to fill those empty spaces of our lives. We need to fill the empty tombs with hope, newness of life, enthusiasm. He reminds us of the Church’s call to reach out to all suffering and vulnerable people, from refuges to the poor, the unborn, aged and especially children.
Jesus came out of the tomb and went to the Father, in order to prepare a place for us in heaven. When we mourn the death of our dear ones or feel distressed thinking about our own death, the Risen Christ brings us hope. He said to the distressed disciples after his farewell speech that death would have no victory over him.
It follows that, as we heard from St Paul write in his letter to the Romans, “when we were baptised we went into the tomb with Jesus and joined in his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, we might live a new life.” ‘’ There comes the aspect of baptism and the reason why we will soon renew our baptismal promises and be sprinkled with the newly blessed, holy water during this Easter Mass. That is why we include the RCIA program in the Easter Vigil Mass.
You might remember the news about the Protestant pastor, Graham Stains and his two little sons were burnt alive in Orissa, India in 1999. His widowed wife and his daughter who had to live with this colossal tragedy, sang at a memorial service, expressing their faith in the new life:
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because, I know He holds the future
And life is worth living – just because He lives.”
Yes, Christ is Risen and He is alive! He is present and active. Alleluia!
(An old man and woman were married for many years, even though they hated each other. When they had a confrontation, screaming and yelling could be heard deep into the night. The old man would shout, 'When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!'
Neighbours feared him. They believed he practiced black magic, because of the many strange occurrences that took place in their neighbourhood. The old man liked the fact that he was feared.
To everyone's relief, he died of a heart attack when he was 90. His wife had a closed casket at the wake. After the burial, she went straight to the local bar and began to party, as if there was no tomorrow.
Her neighbours, concerned for her safety, asked, 'Aren't you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way up and out of the grave and come back to haunt you for the rest of your life?'
The wife put down her drink and said, 'Let him dig. I have him buried upside down.’)