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Together as One: Year 6 students gather at Ss Peter and Paul for Mass with Bishop Brian Mascord

Ss Peter and Paul was pleased to host Year 6 leaders from across our diocese, who congregated as a faith-filled community with Bishop Brian Mascord to mark the students' transition to secondary school – an important milestone in each child’s educational journey.

The annual Year 6 Masses, which are a coming-of-age tradition for students graduating from their primary school education, are an opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and they also remind students how they can foster their relationships with Jesus through compassionate actions and loving words as they grow.

“It was inspiring to see the church full of Year 6 students celebrating Mass with the Bishop and other priests,” said Ss Peter and Paul Kiama Principal, Peter Michael. “The students' reverence, respect and participation was an authentic example of our connectedness through the ritual and celebration of Mass."

The regional gathering, which was planned collectively by teachers and students, saw Bishop Brian preside with concelebrating priests from the represented systemic primary schools. The scriptural focus for each Mass was the transfiguration of Jesus. During his homilies, Bishop Brian encouraged students to explore this event through the Gospel reading Luke, 9:28-36: A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him”.

Bishop Brian also asked the congregation to consider the relationship between Jesus and his disciples – and every one of us. “When we begin to know Jesus, we too, like the disciples or the apostles – Peter, James and John – we too are changed," he said. “We’re different, we become different – that’s the real challenge for us as we listen to the Scriptures, and that is the purpose about why you are in a Catholic school. Getting to know Jesus is much more than knowing about him.”

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The Bishop also spoke about the challenges that can arise from a committed relationship with faith. “It’s tough being a follower of Jesus,” he said. “The beauty is that we are given the strength to do this through the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“The Mass was truly a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and deepen our connections with our wider faith community,” Religious Education Coordinator (REC) at St Paul's Moss Vale, Catherine du Bois, said. “I was inspired by the way that students provided honest, insightful answers and listened so attentively [to Bishop Brian]. I was also incredibly proud of the way that all the students participated so reverently and enthusiastically throughout all parts of the Mass.”

"Witnessing each of the schools process in with their school candle to the words of their school's motto, demonstrated that our schools are living out God's mission as being places of love, learning, compassion and inclusion,” Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow REC, Kate Jennett, said. “To join together as one community, to be nourished by the Eucharist in song and praise, was completely uplifting."

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Following each Mass, the students were able to enjoy entertainment facilitated by members of the Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong (CYMW) team – the Youth Office of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong – where the children got to mingle, sing and dance together. They were also able to broaden their network of friends across the diocese during this time.

“The Year 6 children from each host school were gracious hosts and fine representatives of their schools,” said CEDoW Catholic Life, Education and Mission (CLEM) Education Officer, Amy Sammut, who was the driving force behind the organisation of each event.

“To witness the students and staff from all schools come together as a faith community and really enter into each celebration wholeheartedly was certainly an inspiring experience. I feel blessed to be a part of a diocese that supports such an important event that marks the transition from primary school to secondary school for our students.”

Photographs by Wise Photography and Jeff McGill.

Read more about the Year 6 Masses with the Bishop across the Diocese here.