‘Sacrifice in life, death and of a nation’
Many Canberrans joined military dignitaries, federal and local politicians, clergy and members of the diplomatic corps representing 27 nations on a beautiful Autumn morning for the National Anzac Day Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra.
Principal celebrant Archbishop Christopher Prowse noted the generosity of servicemen and women who have “given us the freedom and the peace that we often take for granted”.
In his homily, Monsignor Peter O’Keefe, Apostolic Delegate of the Catholic Military Ordinariate of Australia, focused on what he described as the “central message of Anzac” – “sacrifice in life, sacrifice in death and the sacrifice of a nation”.
He described Raynor Hoff’s sculpture which stands in the Hall of Silence in the Anzac Memorial Sydney.
The sculpture portrays the recumbent form of an Anzac whose body is borne aloft upon a shield by his best-loved – mother, sister, and wife with child.
“Raynor Hoff wanted to portray those who had been left behind and have borne the scars of military conflict,” Msgr O’Keefe said. “In this case, the women who have lost fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.”
“This sculpture is dated by time but is universally significant and is as relevant today in capturing the sacrifice in all military conflicts and peacekeeping to present-day Ukraine.
In his homily, Monsignor O’Keefe said it was “relevant to ask the question as to whether the Anzac spirit and the bedrock values it represents, such as courage, sacrifice, loyalty, selflessness and resilience,” were still relevant in today’s culture.
“I believe we have seen the Anzac spirit at work. There is ample evidence every day in specific things that the Anzac spirit is alive,” he said.
“Combating the pandemic and keeping our community safe. Along with fire and emergency services, community and volunteer workers, neighbours and families pulling together in response to broken communities devastated by fire and flood cyclonic events. Our nation’s communities have come together under significant stress to support each other in an amazing way.”
Daily Mass goers and university friends Crystal, Natalie and Kayla also attended the Mass, saying they wanted to show their respect.
“We are from Indonesia and also have these traditions, so we thought it would be good to pay our respects and pray specifically for the fallen soldiers,” Cyrstal said.
Natalie said it was her first time attending the Anzac Mass and that it was also a great opportunity to remember and pray for the veterans who had served in the Indonesian Military.
Also in attendance was Ms Alicia Payne MP, Mr Jeremy Hanson MLA, Ms Elizabeth Lee MLA, and Australian Military personnel representing Army, Navy and Airforce.
Officer cadets and midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy comprised the Ensign Party, responsible for solemnly placing and retrieving the colours of the Australian Defence Force on and from the sanctuary of St Christopher’s.