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One Church, many traditions: Multicultural Mass brightens Cathedral


Dancers from the African community add a special touch to the Presentation of the Gifts during the Archdiocese of Perth’s annual Multicultural Mass. Photo: Ron Tan

By Rachel Curry

Colourful dress, lively traditions and beautiful languages filled St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, 11 November, as the Archdiocese of Perth celebrated its second annual Multicultural Mass.

Held for the first time last year, the Mass honours the rich cultural diversity within the Archdiocese, and the common faith which unites us as members of the Perth Catholic community.

Celebrant for the occasion, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, was joined by the Vicar for Migrants, Father Benedict Lee, who concelebrated alongside Fr Brennan Sia (MC) and Deacon Bruce Talbot.

The chaplains to each of the Perth migrant communities were also in attendance, along with the Indonesian, African and Tamil community choirs and a violinist from the Korean community, who provided powerful music throughout the evening.


Choir sing during the Archdiocese of Perth’s annual Multicultural Mass. Photo: Ron Tan.

Members of the Indonesian and Croatian communities read the First and Second Readings, while members of the Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Indonesian, Malay and Burmese communities embraced the multicultural nature of the Mass by reading the Universal Prayers in their mother tongues.

The Presentation of the Gifts was also a vibrant affair, with dancers from the African community adding a special touch to proceedings.

Addressing the 400-strong congregation during his homily, Archbishop Costelloe said the Catholic Church in Australia was in many ways characterised by its multicultural nature.

“We are being called to show in practice what the Catholic Church, as a true community of disciples of Jesus, should look like as a multicultural Christian community in a multicultural society,” he said.


Parishioners, many of whom wore their national dress for the occasion, pose for photos in St Mary’s Cathedral following the Mass. Photo: Ron Tan

“This of course is not just the task of the bishops, or the priests or the teachers in our schools. This is the task of every single one of us who wants to claim his or her place in the community of the Church. What is this calling us to?”

To help the congregation reflect on this challenge, the Archbishop then recalled the words of Saint Paul.

In one of his letters, St Paul spoke about the variety of gifts given to the Church by the one Holy Spirit of God, referring to the different roles people play in the life of the Church.

“St Paul urges the community to recognise the gifts which others bring, rejoice in those gifts, receive them with joy, and at the same time generously share their own gifts with each other,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“In a multicultural Christian community like the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, we might say the same about the many gifts of faith and spirituality which each culture and people bring.”


Archbishop Costelloe joined guests for refreshments after the Multicultural Mass. Photo: Ron Tan

The Archbishop concluded by saying that while there is beauty and richness and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in every culture, there is only one culture against which everything else should be measured: the Gospel culture, or divine culture.

“This is our challenge: to allow the Gospel to question us about our attitudes, our practices, our presuppositions and our plans,” he said.

“Are we walking in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd? Are we keeping our eyes fixed on Christ? Are we doing our best to be His faithful disciples? This is the culture we need in our Church and in our society today.”