Last Sunday I celebrated Mass in a parish in Palestine on the border between Samaria and Galilee. There was a terrific energy and vibrancy in the liturgy. It was really inspiring. Afterwards we were introduced to the Elders of the parish over a cup of Bedouin Coffee in the Parish Hall. The village is about 40 kilometres from Nazareth and quite near to the village of the 10 lepers and right on the road that goes from Galilee to Jerusalem.

There was a community of nuns in that parish and two volunteer women teachers from France and a small Anglican community. The Parish Priest was from Jordan, a Bedouin, who lived, as he said himself, under the tent. But unfortunately he has not been able to get home for two and a half years to see his elderly parents because of the famous ‘Wall’ that divides that country.

As we drove up and down the steep hills and mountains of Samaria, I thought of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on their many journeys back and forth from home to the Holy City.

As I moved from place to place myself during the past week, I thought of the journey of life. For many it involves moving from place to place, meeting different people and adapting to different circumstances. When I came to Rome I took possession of the Titular Church on Wednesday. Its patrons Quiricus and Julitta, who were a mother and her three year old son, martyred for the faith, suggest the Gospel of the Flight into Egypt.

Then I thought of you, Archbishop Giuseppe, and your preparations to depart from here in Ireland to go to Australia. Now, like Levi, the son of Alphaeus in today’s Gospel, with exemplary obedience, you get up and you go to follow the call of the Master. We are all genuinely sorry to see you go. Many bishops, who cannot be here today, have sent their apologies. Over the past seven years you have helped us immensely with your kind actions and wise counsel while always leaving intact the exercise of the bishop’s lawful power. They have not been easy years. But your constant availability has served wonderfully to foster close and cordial relations with the Bishops’ Conference. You were always ready and willing to take pains to contribute to peace and harmony, to do whatever made for progress and united effort. We promise to accompany you with our prayers. Some of us will see you at World Youth Day.

In any case, a spell in Ireland was, for some people, quite a good preparation for life in Australia.

Daniel Mannex was President here from 1903 to 1912 before going to Australia as Archbishop of Melbourne and there he lived for the next 51 years.
Patrick Francis Moran had been Vice Rector of the Irish College in Rome, Secretary to the Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Ossory, before setting off for Australia in 1884 to become Archbishop of Sydney where he lived for the next 27 years.
More importantly, you will be accompanied by the protection and intercession of the saints of your native diocese to which I know you are very devoted. Prosdocimus, Justina, Bellinus, San Antonio, of course. Gregorio Barbarico, Blessed Forzate and Blessed Arnaldo. There is more one missing, most recent of all. It has been noted that in sacred art, St. Joseph is rarely depicted alone but usually in the company of Jesus and Mary. We know that you will not be alone either because you will be in the presence of Jesus, under the protection of Mary because you travel in the service of the body of Christ for the building up of God’s kingdom here on earth. May the Lord always bless you as you do so.