This year’s Catholic Education Opening School Year Mass held at St Joseph’s Cathedral Rockhampton on Friday 28 January and livestreamed across the Diocese, brought together, virtually and in person, almost 3000 staff, family members and friends of Catholic Education in prayer and celebration to mark the start of the 2022 school year.
The uplifting and joy-filled liturgy was a wonderful way to commence another year of learning albeit in unusual circumstances, according to Diocesan Director Leesa Jeffcoat.
“Our Mass was filled with great hope, positivity, and praise. Even though restrictions meant we numbered very few in the Cathedral the Mass reached the great majority of our communities,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
“Coming together in united prayer amidst the challenges our school communities were facing due to the COVID-related delayed start to the school year, provided a great boost to all. We each recommitted ourselves to serving our communities and sharing in the Church’s Mission through educating the young people entrusted to our care,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
Bishop Michael McCarthy led the celebration assisted by Fr Andrew Hogan, Fr Mattias Ogwo, Fr Bill Senn, Fr Jayanthi Maddala, Fr Terry Loth, Fr Bryan Hanifin, and new to the diocese, Fr Francois Andrianihantana, from Madagascar who was ordained in Melbourne in November last year.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to welcome and meet Fr Francois and we were delighted he was able to assist in celebrating our Opening School Year Mass. We wish him every blessing as he commences his ministry in the diocese,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
The accompanying music during the liturgy was a great highlight provided by a combined choir and musicians from Rockhampton Region Catholic schools and colleges.
“The music and singing for the Mass were just beautiful and I thank all who participated for lending their talents and bringing such life and uplifting joy to the liturgy,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
As part of the celebration Miss Jeffcoat paid tribute to long-serving staff in the diocese who have contributed 20 years or more service to Catholic Education.
“Each year we would normally recognize these dedicated staff members and volunteers in person. Unfortunately, we were unable to have our recipients here, but I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of Catholic Education to extend my thanks and deep appreciation for the commitment, dedication and tremendous service each of our recipients have provided to our communities over such an extended period,” Miss Jeffcoat said.
Miss Jeffcoat said long-serving staff would be presented with their plaques at an appropriate time within their school communities.