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Annual May Procession and Celebration of the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice 2018

May Procession 2018

From the Director of Mission, Phil Davis

A clear blue sky provided the perfect backdrop for the celebration of the 108th Annual May Procession in honour of Our Lady and Celebration of the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice, held last Sunday, 6 May and beginning at the earlier time of 12.00 noon.

The Procession of the Banners, followed by the Marian Statue, made their way from the Braidwood Courtyard, up Birrell Street and into the Centenary Quadrangle. The Marian Statue was carried by the Captain and Vice-Captains of Year 12, 2017: Tyler Von der Heyden, Ben Donaldson, Alfie Killigrew and Finn O’Sullivan.

Reciting the fourth decade of the Rosary in the native Irish tongue.

The main features of the May Procession and Liturgy were the reciting of the fourth decade of the Rosary in the native Irish tongue by Ms Cooper, Mr Egan, Mr McCormack, Ms O’Hara and Ms Ryan, the Blessing of Mothers, the Act of Dedication led by the Prefect of the Sodality, Adam McCabe, and an inspiring address by Sr Jan Barnett rsj, Social Justice Coordinator, Sisters of St Joseph, who reflected on the Mary of Luke’s Gospel, especially as portrayed by Mary’s own words in the Magnificat. Sr Jan Barnett’s Address follows this article.

A lot of time and effort goes into the staging of the May Procession and I would like to thank those responsible for: the layout and printing of the booklet, the setting up of the Centenary Quadrangle, the sound logistics, the organising of the Procession, the wonderful singing and music, and the leading of the Liturgy. I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful afternoon tea provided by the Parent Association.

I am very grateful to the Student Representatives who play a major part in the May Procession and Celebration of the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice. In total there were over 100 students who had key roles regarding the Procession and Liturgy.


 Reclaiming the Mary in Luke’s Gospel

A speech for the 2018 May Procession by Sr Jan Barnett rsj

Most of the images we see of Mary are of a beautiful, reflective young woman, (like that on the cover of today’s booklet).  In reality, however, the Mary in Luke’s gospel is not the gentle, dreamy Mary we often see in paintings.

Luke’s Mary is very different.

There are four very significant things going against the Mary of Luke’s gospel.  First of all, she belongs to a nation under enemy power (her country Israel is completely under the control of the Roman empire).  She’s young (probably a teenager).  She’s poor.  AND she’s a woman (even today, as we know, any one or all of these four can be liabilities).

But it’s this young woman who is chosen in Luke’s gospel to be the bearer of good news – news that is groundbreaking in that time and in this.  In the visitation, the young woman expecting a child visits her older cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant for the first time.  The song she bursts into is what we call the Magnificat. It’s a song of praise that Mary, on fire with love, sings out to God. It’s the longest set of words placed on the lips of a woman in the whole gospel: it’s the most any woman gets to say.  And it’s strong, it’s passionate, it’s radical.

Mary’s song has two stanzas. The first is a deep personal cry of joy from this young woman – full of gratitude to the God who is deep within us and who walks with us on life’s journey, in good times; and in the midst of suffering and turmoil.

The second stanza praises God’s justice for those who suffer and are seen to be of no account in society – those who are poor, bullied, ignored, treated unjustly by those who are rich and powerful.  The Magnificat is about the God who is on the side of those who are pushed to the edges of society and who feel powerless.

Every day in churches around the world, Christians pray this prayer: and we’ve all heard it.  Let’s listen to three lines:

You have scattered the proud in their hearts’ fantasies.

You have put down the tyrants from their thrones and have lifted up the powerless.

You have filled the hungry with good things,and sent the rich away empty.

Pie in the sky stuff, most of us would have thought.  Totally unreal.  Fake news really.

For this world is truly a world turned upside down, a world in which power and wealth, as well as poverty, are destroyed. It’s a world that recognises that we, the wealthy, are the problem, not the poor.   It foreshadows the message which is at the heart of the gospel: God is on the side of the poor; God acts to save the poor; but also that God’s mercy is for all who will listen and respond to this call to compassion and love.

Mary’s song reminds us that many of the power structures that operate in our world are wrong. And we do know this deep in our hearts.  Just think of the Royal Commissions and enquiries –  into the Banks, the child detention centres, child sexual abuse, Nauru and Manus Island, the growing gap between rich and poor Australians

The message of the Magnificat is about these issues.  It’s been sung throughout the centuries by people working for justice.  Its message is so subversive that for a period during the 1980s, the Government of Guatemala banned people from saying it in public.

As I spent time preparing for today, I found myself asking whom Mary would stand beside today.

  • I think she’d stand beside families in Syria watching their homes and country destroyed
  • I think she’d be on the side of the woman I met at the airport last week who’s worked there for eight years and hasn’t had a pay rise in all that time
  • I think she’d stand with Indigenous Australians, struggling for justice
  • And with the people on Nauru and Manus seeking relief from torture and cruelty that our government is carrying out on our behalf

But I also thought about the people I know who ARE Mary’s voice and hands today:

  • The two boys from your own school in Brisbane who started the Orange Sky Laundry to provide a mobile washing machine service for homeless people
  • The year 6 student who saw a documentary on children in Nepal who didn’t have a school, and so for four years, sold herbs every week at her school so that by the time she was in Year 9 she’d raised enough money to build a classroom for those students
  • The group of Year 9 boys who set up an anti-bullying Movement to call out bullying wherever they saw it and who, in this action, changed the culture of their year and their whole school
  • The mums for refugees who sent a YouTube letter to the Prime minister for Mother’s Day
  • The group of famous Australians who also produced a YouTube to say we are better than the way we are being portrayed by our government to the world.

We’re here today because of Edmund Rice and Mary MacKillop who stood with the poor of their time and established educational systems in Ireland and Australia to make a difference in their world.

We’re here because this school, Our Lady’s Mount, exists in the tradition of a young woman who sang out her joy in the God who is compassion and love, and who stands for justice for all people and all of life.

We’re here AND we’re challenged to imagine and believe in a different kind of world where all sorts of unexpected things can happen and where we can make a difference.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us: love one another as I have loved you.

And next Sunday is Mother’s Day, when we celebrate the gift of all mothers and those who have been mother figures for us.

Let’s celebrate the love of our God and the love of all mothers, as we continue to live that love with each other and with all our brothers and sisters around the world.

My soul proclaims your greatness, O my God,and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.

For your great love has blessed me, poor, and a serving woman.

From this day all generations will call me blessed,

for you, who are mighty, have done great things for me;and holy is your Name.

Your mercy is on those who fear you, from generation to generation.

You have shown strength with your arm.

You have scattered the proud in their hearts’ fantasies.

You have put down the tyrants from their thrones and have lifted up the powerless.

You have filled the hungry with good things,and sent the rich away empty.

You have rescued Israel your servant, remembering your compassion,

as you promised to Abraham and Sarah,mercy to their children forever.