Homily for Fr Dominic Byrne’s Installation Mass at West Wyalong
Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s Homily on the occasion of the Installation of Fr Dominic Byrne as Parish Priest of the West Wyalong Mission – Sunday February 17, 2019.
1 Corr 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
It’s great to be back with you! West Wyalong Mission, which incorporates West Wyalong and Lake Cargelligo, today prays for its new parish priest, Fr Dominic Byrne.
The Readings of today speak of two types of people. Those who trust in the Lord and those who don’t.
The image evoked in the First Reading from Jeremiah is particularly appropriate for God’s people in this part of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. It talks about drought and waste lands. As you now have encountered several years of very severe drought this image is one that will resonate with you all.
The people or community that does not place their trust in the Lord are described as “like dry scrub in the wastelands…a salt land, uninhabited.”
Those who put their trust in the Lord are described as “like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.”
Despite all our adversities, whether it be on the land or other things that worry us perhaps in our family or regarding our own health or age issues, we are the people that trust God at our deepest levels. This doesn’t mean that we don’t endure sufferings and difficulties, but we are the people who will not be overcome by them…we are the people that place our trust in God who ultimately brings good out of bad.
The Gospel today is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. By placing our trust in the Lord we become the people who are happy. God wants us to be happy even when we are poor or hungry or weep or when people deride us, we are the people that live by the Beatitudes knowing that God is leading us as his missionary disciples. He wants us to be happy. Let God’s desires for us be triumphant!
In the light of the Reading’s accent on trust and happiness I present to you your new parish priest Fr Dominic Byrne.
First of all, I wish to thank you for the wonderful pastoral care you have given to your outgoing parish priest, Fr Emil Milat. I recall when I first asked Fr Emil to come out to West Wyalong Mission he indicated to me that he had rarely, if ever, travelled out to this area of the Archdiocese. Despite his apprehensions, he placed his trust in God working through the Bishop and his people. He has really enjoyed his years with you and has now returned to a parish in Canberra where he can be closer to his aging mother.
I got to know Fr Dominic Byrne, not at the more recent World Youth Day in Panama City but at the one before it in Poland. We both have something in common…we both like eating an early breakfast! During the weeks we were in Poland inevitably we were the first two to arrive at the breakfast dining room. In sharing breakfast with Fr Dominic over the weeks I came to appreciate his maturity and sense of humour. It was a difficult time for him. His mother was dying. Indeed, just before we left he was informed that his mother had died. He is a man of faith, with a very deep devotion to Mary the mother of God.
I thought of him as your incoming Parish Priest, not only because of his strong Marian faith but also for another practical reason…he used to be a taxi driver in Canberra! In other words he likes driving and there is plenty of driving in this parish! Now with the death of Fr Mayne Murphy, the parish priest of West Wyalong also takes on the responsibilities of the parish priest of Lake Cargelligo.
So, as you looked after Fr Emil, may I ask you now to look after your new parish priest Fr Dominic. Please ensure that he feels welcomed into your community and you show a real willingness to allow him to lead you spiritually and pastorally in the years ahead.
I now take this opportunity to thank you all for your deep faith.
When I prayed my meditation this morning I was on the veranda of the presbytery looking over this beautiful Church. It is a brilliant morning! I became aware, in a fresh way, of those who built this great Church of the Lord and did so in the sun’s east west axis. This is deeply biblical. It is written in the psalms and our Eucharistic prayer No.3. states, “From the rising of the sun to its setting a perfect offering may be made to your glory O’Lord.”
From morning till dusk, in daylight and in darkness, the people of West Wyalong can look outside and view this quite enormous Church with a high spire as a living sign of Christ’s presence amongst them in good times and in bad. The architecture of this Church is surely a symbol of the evangelising mission that all of us are called to as Catholics in this part of South Central New South Wales. We are indeed, as the Scriptures today indicate, the people who have placed their trust in the Lord and who open themselves up to the joy and happiness that only God can give. This is not just for ourselves, but it is essential to our mission in this entire area as God’s missionary disciples. Let us pray for each other now in the Mass.