It’s a little slice of Australia in Rome – and Aussies love to gather there to celebrate our national day
The challenges of the past two years had tested Australians but strength may be found in the country’s unique natural beauty, indigenous culture and settler history with its Christian heritage, said Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at the Mass for Australia Day at Domus Australia in Rome.
The archbishop was the principal celebrant for the Mass held in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel.
“The Mass was attended by many Australians living in Rome, concelebrated by the Rector of Domus Fr Bob Hayes with 18 priests representing various dioceses and religious orders, and followed by a reception.”
Highlighting the coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Australia above the chapel’s sanctuary, the archbishop said it hinted at the country’s natural wonders as well as its human and Christian heritage.
“Were we to ask…what might provide Australians with the internal resources and external cohesion they need in the face of present anxieties, we might see in our Commonwealth arms pointers to the gifts of nature, indigenous culture and settler history, but also the Christian heritage that informs Australia’s laws, customs and ideals,” the archbishop said.
Scripture and the experience of saints such as Mary MacKillop tell of the ability to have trust in God despite the anxieties of any age, he added.
“Fire, pandemic, whatever challenges come next, Australians can be confident: that we have been truly blessed in our land, our people, above all in our God whose grace unites and directs both,” he said.
The archbishop was in the Eternal City for meetings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is a member.
“Australia Day is an opportunity once a year to give thanks to the Lord for the land we live in and the many blessings received.”
The Mass was attended by many Australians living in Rome, concelebrated by the Rector of Domus Fr Bob Hayes with 18 priests representing various dioceses and religious orders, and followed by a reception.
Special guests at the celebrations included the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to Italy Margaret Twomey, New Zealand Ambassador to Italy Anthony Simpson and religious Sisters and Brothers representing the many Congregations present in Rome.
They included the superior-general of Marist Brothers Australia Fr John Larsen, procurator-general of the Columban Missionary Society Fr Robert McCulloch, and the assistant superior general of the Augustinians to the Asia-Pacific Region, Fr Anthony Banks.
Brother Anthony Shanahan representing the Superior-General of the Christian Brothers and Sister Josephine Kane, Mother General of Our Lady of the Mission, were also present.
Fr Hayes, Ms Porro and the archbishop each addressed the guests at the reception following Mass, with the ambassador thanking all the Australians living in Rome for their support during last year.
Referring to the current controversy over the date of Australia’s national day, Fr Hayes said that “for those who call Australia home, regardless of their view of what happened 234 years ago and the history that is behind this day, Australia Day is about who we are as a nation of different cultures and faiths, but striving to be one”.
“We are truly blessed to live in a nation such as ours, while recognising many Australians still face terrible disadvantage.”
“Australia Day is an opportunity once a year to give thanks to the Lord for the land we live in and the many blessings received,” he added.
On social media, Archbishop Fisher reflected that “We are truly blessed to live in a nation such as ours, while recognising many Australians still face terrible disadvantage”.
“We recognise the continuing disadvantage and unfinished reconciliation with our First Australians and the shame of modern slavery which many sadly face in our country.”