Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was the principal celebrant at the annual Lourdes Day Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral last weekend.
The Order of Malta offers the Mass, now in its sixth year, as part of its mission to defend the faith and serve the Lord’s poor and sick.
Archbishop Fisher welcomed hundreds to the Mass including many who came for a special Blessing of the Sick.
Members of the Order also distributed small bottles of water from the grotto at Lourdes, France, where Mary appeared to the visionary Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
Bernadette was instructed to dig the earth near where the Virgin appeared and there formed a spring that was later converted into a pool.
Its water has been linked to thousands of miraculous healings, including around 70 officially recognised by the Catholic Church.
See related story: Aussie mother and daughter forge a new life in Lourdes.
The miller’s daughter was canonised by Pope Pius XI on 8 December 1933 and hundreds of thousands of sick pilgrims visit the spring at Lourdes each year seeking healing of mind, body, and spirit.
In his homily Archbishop Fisher said that “Mary’s love, not only for her own boy but for all those who are vulnerable like Him, is told powerfully at Lourdes, and humanity’s need for such love told powerfully in the stories of our malades.”
Describing his own experience of disability during his episode of Gullian-Barré Syndrome in 2016, the archbishop said that it gave him a window “into the lives of those whose physical or intellectual disabilities would be permanent”.
“The culture of death told in the constant push for more abortion, more euthanasia, suggests that some are beyond our care and some of us should give up caring,” he said.
“But this Lourdes Day Mass says everyone counts, everyone is loved into being by the One who is Love Himself, and so will be loved by us until their natural death and beyond.
“I thank all members and friends of the Order of Malta for that commitment.”
Mark Boffa, Regional Hospitaller for NSW and the ACT said he was “very grateful” for the support of the archbishop and his “obvious care” of the Order of Malta.
“This is a very special day on our calendar and we are very grateful to him for celebrating this Mass with us and for his ongoing guidance,” he said.
The Order of Malta was established in Palestine around 1048, as a lay religious Order.
Today it is active in 120 countries caring for people in need through its medical, social and humanitarian works.
It has nearly 14,000 members around the world.