Adelaide Comitium- 70th
Albury Wodonga Comitium 60th
Tasmania Curiae 70th
Adelaide -70th Anniversary
(Homily given by Archbishop Leonard Faulkner, Emeritus Archbishop of Adelaide)
We are very privileged to have present today, Eileen Fahey of Parkside, who is 96 years of age and was one of the formation members of the Legion of Mary in Adelaide.
I welcome Eileen, a great Legionary and a friend of many of us. She is a special friend of mine. I met her often during the twenty years I was Archbishop and I thank Eileen for her great witness to Christ as an active Legionary of Mary during that time.
This morning I visited and took Holy Communion to a man who is very ill with cancer. I told him I was coming to Rosary Church to celebrate the seventy years of the Legion of Mary .He replied, “The Legion of Mary has been a great organisation”.
Many people would agree with my friend. Today we celebrate the visitation of people in Hospitals, in their houses, in Nursing Homes and Hostels and the work done by the Legionaries in Parishes and in the Archdiocese of Adelaide. I thank you for your faith, charity and loyalty.
I have been associated with the Legion for more than fifty years. Frank Duff visited us when I was a student at the Urban College in Rome in about 1948. We started two Praesidia of the Legion among the Seminarians and helped to establish the Legion in Parishes around Rome.
On my return to Australia after Ordination, I was Spiritual Director of the Legion in Woodville Parish and, later, at the Cathedral.
The Legion of Mary is based on a solid teaching and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary .I recommend that we appreciate the great gifts of Pope John Paul II. In 1987, he gave us the Encyclical Letter “Redemptoris Mater” -“The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church”. This is a beautiful and clear teaching on Mary in the life of the church.
In October of the year 2002, Pope John Paul sent out an Apostolic Letter “On the Most Holy Rosary” This letter leads us even more deeply into the Mystery of Christ -“Contemplating Christ with Mary”.
I pray the Rosary every day, but I have always found it difficult to really contemplate the mysteries. This letter has helped me -and many others to pray the Rosary.
As you know, the Pope introduced the “Mysteries of Light” into the Rosary .These enable us to pray the public life of Christ and also to contemplate the Eucharist as the fifth Mystery of Light.
As I commend these two letters of the Holy Father to you, I shall offer this Mass of Thanksgiving for the seventy years and ask God to bless us all in the years ahead
There were about forty Legionaries from the Vietnamese Community present at the Mass. Archbishop Faulkner thanked them for their great faith and their courage. Many of them came to Australia as ‘Boat People’. Fr Minh Tam translated into Vietnamese.
(Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral 14 February 2004 Celebrated by Archbishop Doyle)
As some of you know, during the month of January, I was able to take the opportunity to travel to England, and to spend time at a place of reflection and renewal. Hawkstone Hall, which is in the county of Shropshire. On more than one occasion, when speaking with the other participants, I was questioned about my family origins, which are predominantly Irish. I did say however that my paternal Grandfather, William Doyle, was born in Liverpool, although of Irish parents. He came to Australia as an 18 year old.
The link he had here in Hobart was with a man who had migrated earlier. by the name of George Kelly. We are not sure whether the relationship was of stepbrothers or half brothers, but it was one or the other. Our family has always recognised a link with the descendants of the Kelly family. One of the daughters of George Kelly was Beatice Kelly, known as Trix, who was a member of this Cathedral Parish. In the history of 70 years of the Legion of Mary in Tasmania, Beatrice Kelly is recognised as the President of the first Praesidium when the Legion began in February 1934. The Secretary was Mollie Darcey, a niece of Beatrice Kelly. They both are people who feature clearly in my childhood memories.
Today we have come together to give thanks to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for this remarkable history of now seventy continuous years of the Legion in Tasmania. Soon after the foundation, other praesidia were formed in both the north and the south of the State. History shows that there have been periods of dec1ine but that they too have passed. Today, we note a situation of steady growth, and a continuation still of the spirit of the Legion and the particular spiritual emphases which it encourages among the members.
In the historical outline which was kindly prepared by Mr. Tom Dempsey, there is reference to the link between the Legion of Mary and the founding Sisters of the Missionary Sisters of Service. The four original members of the Congregation, Srs. Gwen Morse, Alice Carroll, Joyce O’Brien and Kath Moore were all members of the Legion before they answered the invitation of God through the vision of Fr. John Wallis.
There is, I believe, something very moving about this particular passage of the St Luke’s Gospel. After Mary had become aware of the truly remarkable plans that God had for her, she embarks on a journey of comfort and support for her cousin Elizabeth, who, as we know, was destined to give birth herse1f in rather extraordinary circumstances.
There is recognition on the part of the two expectant mothers of the extraordinary events which surrounded their pregnancies. But it also appears that the two sons, still to be born, recognise each other as well. Elizabeth, Mary and John the Baptist are all moved in some way, by the events and because of the presence of Jesus.
In his version of the Gospel, St. Luke is at pains to build a bridge between the story of Israel and the story or the Church. In all, four personalities of the Old Testament, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, according to St. Luke, travel across the bridge in two stories, to meet Mary and Jesus. It was on the occasion of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, and the occasion of the visit of Mary and Joseph to the temple, that these meetings occurred.
I do not ever believe that we can underestimate the profound significance of visitation at any level in our lives. The visits we make to family and friends, or that they make to us, the visits that we make to those who are sick or in need. the countless visits that the members of the Legion of Mary have made over 70 years, impart a message which cannot be equalled. The message is that for those minutes, hours or days, the receiver of the visit, is being given top priority in the life of the one who is making the call. No letter, phone-call, card or email can ever replace the significance of that gesture, and the Legion of Mary has understood this message better that many of us.
In the account of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, it is obvious that the Holy Spirit is stirred into action. Elizabeth makes her loud statement “why should I be visited by the Mother of my Lord”; Mary begins the recitation of her now much loved hymn, the Magnificat, and John the Baptist clearly recognises that he is in the presence of the one whose presence he will announce some thirty years later.
At the moment of crossing the bridge, at the point of visitation, we too can be mindful of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all. I am sure there are many experiences over now seventy years, where the Holy Spirit was clearly part of the experience of visitation of the members of the Legion of Mary .I am sure that it was through the Holy Spirit that members received that additional measure of courage and conviction, when about to ring a doorbell, without any knowledge of what might be the reaction from the other side of the door.
Let us remember today, during this Mass, the many members of the Legion who have passed into Eternal Life. There must be many hundreds of them. We remember them with gratitude for their generosity and commitment.
I wish to thank all of you for your own generosity and commitment, and the continuation of your great love of Mary, which you express during your meetings, in your spirituality , and in your ministry.
We are called to “‘proclaim the greatness of the Lord” and to rejoice in “God our Saviour.” We have no better guide, no better inspiration or model than Mary, the Mother of Jesus. May the Mother of God continue to do that for us, and be that for us, as the Legion moves on towards the celebration of three-quarters of a century of service, in five year’s time.
Albury Wodonga Comitium -60thAnniversary
(Talk given by Mary Fletche at the dinner after Mass celebrated by Bishop Hanna with Spiritual directors of the Legion.)
Sixty years ago, 7th September what were you doing? Close your eyes and think. Many of you were not even born , nor even thought about. Some were bright-eyed little children, some teenagers maybe even Junior Legionaries. A few were busy young parents or in the workforce. Had you even heard of the Legion of Mary “?
Sixty years ago, 7th September, the eve of Our Lady’s birthday–picture in your mind a group of people gathered together at St Patrick’s Albury to hold meeting of an organization new in the area.
Let us imagine ourselves seated with them around a table covered with red cloth -red for the Holy Spirit, patron of this organization. A statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception stands on a white cloth at one end of the table. There is a small vase of flowers on either side of the statue and two white candles flicker the Vexillum and Mary’s standard. Jean Schneider of Lavington had set the table that afternoon, just as Miss Moran told her. Jean could not be at that first meeting because the bus did not run at night. Miss Moran had come from Sydney to tell us about the LEGION OF MARY.
Looking around, we recognize around the table Fr Desmond, Joan McCarthy, Nell Clark, Pat McCarthy, Mary Ford, Marie Buckley, Joyce Bishop (now Joyce Taylor living in Melbourne, Joan Clancy (still living ),Doris McDonald ,Kath Johnson, Pat Wilson (still living ) and little Kathy Broadhead –Kath is here with us to-night ! Fr Desmond leads us in the Rosary and Marj Buckley reads from the Legion Handbook, page 4 -The object of the Legion of Mary. Miss Moran takes the chair and explains what the Legion is about. We have an election of officers -our praesidium is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
So there it was -the first meeting of the Legion in this area in 1943, or so I thought when I gave this talk at the 60th anniversary dinner but during the evening. A Mr Jim McLaurin came up to me and told me about a Legion group he was in when a Father Kelly of Liverpool , England came toWagga.Fr Kelly had been on a ship carrying children to Australia .It was shipwrecked on an island near New Guinea. He came on to Sydney where he heard about the Legion. Father helped establish the Legion in Holbrook which is part of Albury deanery. Now this was about the same time or just after the Albury praesidium started.
As I read through the minutes of these early meetings of that Immaculate Heart of Mary praesidium I see the same format that we have today (perhaps we’re a little less formal) prayer, spiritual reading, reports, the Catena (Mary’s song), and work given out for the week. And what was the work being done back then? In 1943 Legionaries were visiting the hospitals, instructing children attending public schools, visiting homes, all much the same as to day’s Legion work. Growth of the Legion ensued. In May 1945 another group called “Mary Spouse of the Holy Spirit” was formed when the original one grew and was split. In 1949 “Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima “began working in Lavington. I spoke with May Stewart ,now 94 years old, and she remembers Mrs.Harrold being president and how she made certain they all did everything ” properly ” .May also recalls Mary Hanna doing Legion visits on her bicycle with baby behind her. This Legion group persisted until well into the 1990’s and in the 80’s another praesidium ran concurrently in Lavington. It was “Our Lady Help of Christians” .For a short while there was no Legion in that parish but not for long, as in 1999 “Rosa Mystica ” began and in and in 2000 “Mary Mother of Christ ” started. 1952 saw “Our Lady Queen of Peace” begin in Albury and original and present members are here tonight.
“Mary Queen of Heaven” began in Wangaratta in 1956. In 1957 “Our Lady Queen of Heaven and Earth” was formed in North Albury with Fr Bongiorno as spiritual director and young Mrs Bette Munce as president. Bette is still an active member of Comitium in Albury In 1960 Wodonga formed “Our Lady Help of Christians” and in 1964 “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart” praesidium.
Extension work was done in many places .Sometimes praesidia were formed some continued some did not. Our records show that Legion work done in Rutherglen, Howlong, Tallangatta, Henty , Beechworth, Yackandandah, Culcairn, Tocumwal, Berrigan, Finley and Oaklands.
CURIA ESTABLISHED IN ALBURY
In 1952 a Curia was established in Albury and young Fr Pat O’Connell was first Spiritual director .It was called “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament”. Our records show that in 1954 Mons. Larkins was the S.D. Over the years many officers and spiritual directors have come and gone. Many of you would remember the late Fr. O’Leary -a great Legion man. Bishop Brennan supported the Legion and among the wise things he did was the appointment of an extension worker to the diocese in 1991 .Without the vibrant, friendly work of Joan Davies, many of our new praesidia would not have been established. She helped set up the three new groups: Rosa Mystica and Mother of Christ in Lavington and Mary Help of Christians in Jindera as well as supporting the “Christ the Priest” Fathers in Thurgoona where there are four new praesidia, Mary Immaculate, Mystical Rose, and Our Lady Mother of Wisdom.
Throughout the Albury area the great work of the Legion continues and when Comitium meets, the roll call is like a mighty litany to Our Lady. Homes, hospitals and nursing homes are being visited, children in public schools taught the faith, legionaries helping in the churches and the faith spread by literature and personal contact at the local markets.