The call and responsibility to witness to the Love of God is for everyone in the church.  Each of us through baptism and confirmation have received the love of God through the outpouring of the Holy spirit.  In line with the nature of God who constantly reaches out, we also individually are called to share the love we receive.

I want to make a few comments on the call we have as a Church, as an Organisation to witness to love.

Pope Benedict in his only encyclical so far "Deus Caritas Est" has written so inspiringly of love.  He said that love is at the heart of the Church.  If justice is so important and needed in our world, so also is love.  It is the role of the Church to offer needy people the service of love.  It is easy to see that "Caritas" is a work of the Church.  It is an organisation which is under the direction of the Bishops of Australia.  The money gathered is spent on development as well as emergency relief in various poorer countries of the world.

Likewise, the 'Vincent de Paul' Society whose special concern is  service to the poor is clearly seen as a work of our Church.  It is run by Catholic groups and supported by our Church members.  It offers help to anyone, irrespective of race or creed. This too is very Christian and Catholic.

Sometime, for some people, it is not easy to recognise "Centacare' as being Catholic.  Some feel that because a great deal of money comes from the Government in the running of it that it is more like a government agency than a catholic orgnisation.

I can assure everybody that our Centacare is truly an organisation of our diocese.  Archbishop Hickey, then the Bishop of Geraldton, began it and I have encouraged its development over my time as Bishop.  Sr. Mary Ryan, Director for over ten years, not only operates it as a diocesan organisation, but clearly promotes it as an arm of the Church in the area of caring services.

Those employed by Centacare must be supportive of the Catholic ethos and understand that it is an agency of the Catholic Church.  The Mission Statement  explicitly states; "As a Catholic Agency we promote professional assistance in a manner which promotes human dignity and enhances growth and development". While Centacare, like our Catholic schools, receive much government funding, it cannot survive on this alone.  Centacare depends on contributions from the Diocese, especially 'Communio' and other fundraising sources.  These funds are needed for staff to provide services to the unemployed and those requiring emergency money for food, for baby requirements, for their Christmas lunch and other small projects for which they have no funds and no other services in Geraldton.

In his encyclical, Pope Benedict writes in section 31 about the distinctive qualities of a catholic organisation.

  • "Christian charity, following the example of the Good Samaritan, is first of all the simply response to the immediate needs and specific situations of people".
  • "Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies.... it is a way of making present here and now the love that man always needs".
  • "Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what now days isconsidered proslytism....but this does not mean that charitable activit must somehow leave God and Christ aside...  Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others.  They realise that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love.

A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak".

Our Centacare, as well as Vincent de Paul and Caritas fulfil these criteria.

Furthermore, Pope Benedict in section 28 state this about love: 'This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support".

Centacare through its various counselling and caring services offer this care of souls as well.  I conclude with an appeal for prayer.  Pope Benedict reminds us of the need for it in section 37.  It is important that all those involved in Catholic organisations pray about the special work they do.  Let us who support them pray for God's blessing on their special mission.  All our Catholic organisations are the work of God and "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it". Psalm 127:1

Bishop Justin Joseph Bianchini, DD
Bishop of Geraldton