Pastoral Message from the Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
25 – 26 August 2018

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s an all too familiar tale. Much of Australia, and most of our Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, is again in the
grip of drought. The current dry is so severe and there is no significant rain forecast. Aussies everywhere are
watching news bulletins and reading articles about the drought affected rural countryside. Many from the city
are responding to calls to help farmers struggling to cope with the devastating conditions. The record dry
conditions have prompted further Federal funding and State Governments are kicking into gear. Many
generous Australians are supporting fundraising campaigns to help farmers pay for the massive cost of keeping
animals alive and people all round the country are asking how they can help.
So what can we do to help ourselves? Perhaps the first thing we need to do is to dig deep and remember our
faith. As we continue to do all the practical things we can, as we outline pragmatic ways others can help, as we
‘cut back’ and ‘streamline’ and ‘do without’, let us remember the strength that our faith offers us at times like
this. As we make tough decisions, as we cull stock and cart water, let us remember what our faith reveals for us
about the reality of suffering and the challenge of hard times.
Our faith does not shy away from suffering. We don’t go looking for it, but we don’t buckle when it hits either.
We know that suffering is part of the experience of human existence. We know this better than most city folk
and we know it well if we are farmers and live on the land. We’ve been here in conditions like this before, we’ll
be here again and we’ll live to talk about it. Many of us know that we have a deeper sense of things that matter
largely because we have live through drought before and have had to face the desolation and pain that comes
with it. So, how can we help ourselves again now?
By remembering that Christ leads us through no darker place than he has gone before.
We are not alone. Jesus knows about ‘taking a flogging’. His faith and courage in the face of unimaginable
suffering gives us strength. He who suffered more than we can begin to know walks with us. He holds us firm
and reminds us that this will end, that life matters above all else and that hope always triumphs. Catholics
know how to live in, with and through suffering. We know it does not have the final word. We know we will not
be abandoned.
Let us pray for rain and let us pray for courage while we wait for rain. In our parishes, perhaps we can
arrange to spend some time together praying to our Patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Perhaps we might
contact our fellow Christians and reach out to church congregations and sit down together to what it is we can
do for each other and our people in dire need. If we have resources enough, we can go to our own Diocese
website and find the ‘Assist Us’ tab and make a donation that will support our priests and pastoral workers to
buy vouchers to be used in local shops for those in greatest need.
Let’s all pull together and help each other to remember that we’ve been here before and bounced back.
Nothing is meaningless and suffering least of all. Here in these tough times, is another experience of Holy

Yours in Christ
Most Reverend Bishop Columba Macbeth–Green OSPPE DD
Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes