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Sunday Mass returns to St Mary’s Cathedral after 14-week hiatus

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In his opening welcome to parishioners for the 11am Mass, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB expressed his delight in “celebrating Mass not in front of a camera but in front of real people”. Image: Sourced.

By Eric Martin

Perth Catholics braved grey skies and winter rain last Sunday 28 June to attend the re-opening of St Mary’s Cathedral for the long-awaited first Mass since the pandemic shut church buildings across the state.

In his opening welcome to parishioners for the 11am Mass, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB expressed his delight in “celebrating Mass not in front of a camera but in front of real people”.

“As I’m sure you can tell from my face, it’s a great joy to be here and I hope it is for you too,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

Cathedral Dean Father Sean Fernandez welcomed parishioners as they entered the Cathedral, pausing briefly to sanitise their hands at the station provided at the foyer entrance.

Though the crowd was relatively sparse and spread throughout the pews in precaution, it was clear from the many smiles that people were glad to be coming home on Sunday morning once again, able to celebrate Mass in its true form in communion with others.


Parishioners braved a cold, wet, winter’s morning to attend the first Mass back at St Mary’s Cathedral after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Eric Martin.

Despite his obvious enjoyment, Archbishop Costelloe was quick to return the congregation’s thoughts to the needs of others, highlighting the fact that there is still so much hardship being endured within the wider community as a result of the pandemic.

“As we begin we would like to thank God for all of the gifts that he has given us,” he said.

“But especially at this time, we would like to call to mind all of those people for whom we would particularly like to pray during this Mass: those who have suffered so much during these past three or four months, those who have lost close family or friends, all those people who have in one way or another struggled or perhaps are continuing to struggle.

“Let us carry them in our hearts and minds as we pray for ourselves too, and each other,” Archbishop Costelloe prayed.


It wasn’t just the clergy and parishioners who were glad to be returning to a more normal celebration of the Mass, with St Mary’s Choir also making a return to the Cathedral. Photo: Eric Martin.

His homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time dealt with the difficulty that Christians face in the modern world (and also in ancient times) in dealing with the changing value system that operates within the wider society in which Christians communities live and operate.

“Sometimes the rules are difficult to follow because they ask us to live according to values which are more and more regarded by our wider society as old-fashioned and even damaging,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“Sometimes the teachings seem irrelevant - of no real value in our daily living - and we are tempted to ignore them or even deny them.

“But if we come to understand that the teachings, if we engage with them, can point to the beauty and mystery of the God who comes among us in the person of Jesus, and if the guidelines and rules can be re-considered as sure, God-given ways of keeping us on the path that leads to the fullness of life rather than simply man-made regulations which limit our freedom to do as we please, then they might begin to make more sense to us than they do at present.”


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said that it was an absolute pleasure to return to celebrating Mass in communion with his flock. Photo: Eric Martin.

His words were a timely reference to the current challenges that the Perth Archbishop is facing in dealing with the inappropriate demand recently made of him by the Minster for Community Services, Children’s Interests and Women’s Interests, Simone McGurk, who called him out publicly to ratify the proposed bill challenging the confidentiality of the Rite of Confession: supporting the inherent truth of a law that has been in effect for thousands of years, for the spiritual health of the community, has, in this case, led to aspersions being cast upon the Church by the media, in regards to its moral authority.

Yet, as the Archbishop went on to explain, the fruit of our relationship with Christ and of our continued obedience to the teachings of the Church is what distinguishes the clear and abiding moral authority of God.

“If our fidelity to the Church’s teachings and principles is understood to offer us a way to a deeper, truer, more intimate and loving relationship with the Lord Jesus, then they will become an energising source of life rather than a heavy weight dragging us down,” Archbishop Costelloe added.

“There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that the kind of relationship into which Jesus is calling us is challenging and demanding, as any true relationship with another person always is.

“In the case of Jesus we are being invited to develop an attachment of love and fidelity to a man whose way of life led him to the cross.”

Weekly Sunday online Mass from St Mary's Cathedral Parish House will now cease effective Monday 28 June. Masses have now resumed on Saturday 6pm, 8.00am, 9.30am and 11.00am Sunday mornings and 5.00pm Sunday evening, as well as at St Francis Xavier 9.30am Sunday and at St Catherine’s 8.30am Sunday.