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Anzac Day a reminder to serve and sacrifice for peace, says Archbishop Fisher

Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues is a journalist for The Catholic Weekly. She also writes at marilynrodrigues.com. Email her at [email protected]
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP lays a floral wreath at the memorial for fallen soldiers at the conclusion of the vigil Mass for Anzac Day at St Mary’s Cathedral on 24 April. Photo: Patrick J Lee

As Australians prepared for dawn services, marches and games of two-up for Anzac Day, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called on Christians to remain faithful to their role of service as “war-preventers and peacemakers”.

In remarks before leading the celebration of the vigil Mass for Anzac Day held at St Mary’s Cathedral the archbishop noted more than a dozen conflicts around the globe in places such as Cameroon, Gaza, Ukraine and Yemen.

“War today…is so widespread that Pope Francis describes it as “a veritable world war,” he said.

“The cost of war in lives lost, bodies and minds damaged, livelihoods destroyed and persons displaced is a grim reality for so many, whether combatants or civilians, and it disfigures all humanity.”

A bugler sounds the Last Post in St Mary’s Cathedral during the Anzac Day vigil Mass. Photo: Patrick J Lee

Governor of New South Wales Margaret Beazley, former Governor-General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, consular officials and representatives from Australia’s defence forces, reserves and service veterans were among the many distinguished guests at the Mass.

Bishop Terrence Brady, Reverend Father Fadi Nemme of the Antiochian Orthodox archdiocese, present and former service chaplains and other clergy concelebrated or assisted the archbishop in offering Mass for the deceased Anzacs and all servicemen and women.

It ended with the laying of floral wreaths at the cathedral’s memorial for fallen soldiers and the Last Post, before a minute’s silence and Reveille.

In his homily Archbishop Fisher said the reality of modern warfare necessitates a response for Christians modelled on Christ who was realistic about conflict but refused to advance his ideals by political or military coercion.

Governor of New South Wales Margaret Beazley and Mr Dennis Wilson. Photo: Patrick J Lee

“The key to the good life is not self-protection and self-advancement, but self-spending for others,” Archbishop Fisher. “Thus we call our sailors, soldiers and pilots ‘servicemen and women’.

“Those who risk their lives fighting for their country, not for self-aggrandisement or hatred, but to defend life and advance peace, are serving something greater than themselves. Such sacrifice, such service is worthy of honour and celebration, without romanticising war.”

Following the ceremony Archbishop Fisher hosted a reception at Cathedral House.

Lieutenant-Colonel Glenn Mackenzie told The Catholic Weekly he appreciated the annual commemoration more with each passing year. “If we don’t take the time to actually stop and reflect and try to find something in Anzac Day for each of us, we will lose it,” he said.

Flag bearers represented each of the defence forces at the vigil Mass. Photo: Patrick J Lee

“As a serviceman I know the Australian people follow our lead and if all we do is go to the pub we will lose the true significance of the day.”

Commadore Michael Harris said he has only missed the Mass when on deployment or posted overseas. “Anzac Day is about remembering those that have gone before us who laid down their lives for the peace and security we have enjoyed for so long, even though it is a bit of a topsy-turvy world,” he said.

For new Navy chaplain Deacon Adrian Gomez this was his first Anzac Day in uniform.

“It’s a real privilege and incredible opportunity to show respect to those who have served, to not only honour their memory but also to lift them up to God in prayer.”

 

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