Australia’s bishops re-consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Help of Christians in honour of her feast day as the coronavirus global pandemic continues unabated.
In Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP prayed a special prayer of formal re-consecration to Our Lady Help of Christians before a solemn Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral which was live-streamed and viewed by more than 4000 people.
Archbishop Fisher noted that Our Lady Help of Christians has been Australia’s official patron since 1844 and honoured in this country long before that when Father John Joseph Therry, arriving in the colony 200 years ago, established and dedicated the first Catholic church to her.
“Often in history the Christian people have asked for Our Lady’s intercession on their behalf, especially in time of danger,” the archbishop said.
“In this time of pandemic, when lives and health are in danger, when so much of ordinary life has been curtailed, when even our public worship is severely constrained, we join the bishop’s conferences of many nations in reconsecrating our land and entrusting our people to Mary’s protective prayers.”
In the homily, St Mary’s Cathedral dean Fr Don Richardson said that Our Lady has been loved and honoured in Sydney even before she appeared to St Catherine Labouré in Paris, St Bernadette in Lourdes, and St Jacinta, St Francisco and Servant of God Lucia in Fatima.
“Are not the times of difficulty, of pain, of bereavement, of uncertainty of need when Catholics rightly turn to the church for support and comfort also the times when we turn to Mary for support and comfort?” Fr Richardson said.
“It is because we sense in faith that Mary is a mother for us and has time and time again over the last 2000 years shown herself to be our helper.”
In St Mary’s College Hall, the archbishop celebrated the feast day Mass which was live-streamed to the college community and a number of other Catholic schools.
In his homily he told the students that throughout history, from the wedding feast of Cana she attended with her son, “people in difficulty have sought her intercession”.
“Because she’s one of us, a mother to us, we turn to her in our need; but she’s the best of us, mother to Our Lord, she gets those prayers answered.”
The bishops approved the re-consecration of the country to Mary under the title of Help of Christians during a plenary meeting via video conferencing last week.
It comes as Catholic bishops in the US, UK and other countries make similar consecrations, and Pope Francis’s entrustment of the whole world to Our Lady in March.
The motion read: “That the Australian Bishops entrust Australia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary under the title Our Lady Help of Christians, seeking her intercession for the safety of all our people especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.”
The feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated on 24 May, but as this year it coincides with the Feast of the Ascension, the bishops agreed it could take place on the 24th or the 25th.