On Saturday 25th March we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord. This is always a special day in our Church calendar, but considering our school theme of “Mary arose and went with haste”, it is even more important for us to remember and celebrate. The Annunciation of the Lord is too often confused with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception but the easiest way of remembering the purpose of the Annunciation is realising that the 25th March is exactly nine months before Christmas Day. While both the Annunciation and the Immaculate Conception are significant days in the Church calendar, the Annunciation focuses on the moment when Mary, our Mother, accepts God’s special plan for her and for us.
Each day at 12pm our school community stops to pray the Angelus which retells the story of the Annunciation of the Lord. Much theological discussion has existed in recent years to highlight the very young age of Mary at the time she was visited by the Angel Gabriel, but regardless of her age, the proposition that confronted Mary would have been challenging to a woman of any age. Mary was betrothed to Joseph but not yet living with him. In Middle Eastern culture at the time, unmarried mothers and children would have been particularly vulnerable and that is notwithstanding the likely shame that would have been cast upon someone in Mary’s position. While we know that Joseph would eventually be visited by Gabriel himself in a dream and would be encouraged to support Mary, there was no guarantee that this would be the case when Mary said yes to God’s plan for her to be the mother of Christ. When Mary replies with the words “let it be done unto me according to thy word”, she accepts God’s intervention in our human world and in doing so becomes a great example for us to follow. While none of us will ever likely be confronted with the same type of proposition, we will no doubt encounter many challenges of faith and circumstance throughout our lives. In those moments we should remember that special moment when Mary demonstrated her faith as inspiration for us to also be willing to accept God’s great plans for us. In our current society we are regularly encouraged to seek out our own individual gratification but Jesus Himself reminds us that any earthly treasure pales in comparison to the reward on offer in heaven. So as we continue to make our way through this Lenten season, let us look for opportunities to not only hear God’s plan for us, but to graciously accept it just like Mary did all those years ago.
Last week our College community farewelled perhaps its greatest supporter in Brother Patrick Hurley from Good Shepherd Parish. In writing this week's article on the Annunciation, I could not help myself from reflecting on the ministry of Br Pat over the sixteen years he spent at Good Shepherd and well over fifty years of service to our Catholic Church. It is too easy an excuse sometimes to suggest that following the example of Mary is too hard for us considering the magnitude of her place within the Bible. Br Pat is a perfect example that any one of us can find a way to accept God’s great plan for us. In my time at Good Samaritan, I have had the enormous pleasure of working closely with Br Pat in catering to the spiritual needs of our students and staff. In particular, throughout the Covid lockdowns Br Pat would regularly join our Christ Chat and Holy Rosary meetings via zoom to continue ministering to our school community. He also regularly risked his own health to join the few of us still at school to live stream Mass for both the school and parish community. At a time when it would have been way too easy to put his feet up or for us to give up on our faith, he wanted nothing more than to continue touching the lives of our community.
This article would go far too long if I was to write everything that Br Pat meant to our school community so I will end by simply asking our school community to keep him in our prayers as he enters a very well deserved retirement. It was rather fitting that he would retire on the weekend we celebrated both St Patrick and St Joseph, along with his 80th Birthday. So I will end with the Irish blessing: May the sun shine warm upon his face; the rains fall soft upon his fields and until we meet again, may God hold him in the palm of His hand.
Mr Matthew Bradbury
Religious Education Coordinator