Dialog Box

CatholicCare Victoria Opening & Commissioning Mass

Victoria’s new statewide Catholic social service agency was inaugurated yesterday in a Mass blessing the organisation and entrusting staff and partners with CatholicCare Victoria’s mission to strengthen families and communities.

CatholicCare Victoria is a leading provider of child, family and youth services, family relationship services, school counselling and pastoral care services, refugee services, social housing, employment and advocacy services.

Agnes Sheehan, founding CEO of CatholicCare Victoria, spoke beforehand, praising pioneer social workers Norma Parker and Connie Moffit, whose “vision for an integrated and coordinated approach to Church social services moves even closer to reality”.

“They recommended an integrated approach to working with families in need and the Catholic Social Services Bureau was established [in 1935] – the first of its kind in Australia.”

“Today, as we celebrate in anticipation the opportunities of a unified statewide social service agency of the Catholic Church in Victoria, we also reflect on the histories and exceptional achievements contributed by each of the agencies coming together,” Sheehan said.

Photo from left to right: John Sheldon, Most Rev Shane Mackinlay, Agnes Sheehan, Most Rev Peter A. Comensoli, Maureen Waddington, Most Rev Paul Bird, Ross Castle, Most Rev Greg Bennet.
Photography by Fiona Basile | Melbourne Catholic


The formation of CatholicCare Victoria in early 2021 is a merger of the three social service agencies of the four Catholic dioceses in Victoria, being CatholicCare Melbourne/Gippsland, Centacare Ballarat, and CatholicCare Sandhurst.

Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli of Melbourne was principal celebrant of CatholicCare Victoria’s opening Mass at St Anthony of Padua Parish, South Melton, which was concelebrated by Bishop Paul Bird CSsR of Ballarat, Bishop Shane Mackinlay of Sandhurst, Bishop Greg Bennet of Sale and honoured clergy.

150 staff, board members, clergy, volunteers, benefactors and people served by CatholicCare gathered from across Victoria and more staff participated remotely at service delivery sites in Ballarat, Bendigo, East Melbourne, Geelong, Horsham, Maryborough, Mildura, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool. 

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR preached about God as the source of the love which motivates service, reflecting on scriptures from the Letter from St John and the Beatitudes.

“Ours is a faith of care and prayer,” Bishop Bird said. 

He quoted inspiring encouragement from Mother Teresa to serve people in need with as much respect and reverence as a priest holds the Body of Christ during Mass, “because they too are the Body of Christ.”

“May the prayer we share this afternoon inspire the care that we show in the days ahead,” he said.

Photo: The CatholicCare Victoria Opening and Commissioning Mass.
Photography by Fiona Basile | Melbourne Catholic


The multi-lingual Mass reflected CatholicCare’s diverse community, with languages from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and Europe. 

Fr Fabian Smith represented the Melton community along with local Catholic school principals Damien Schuster and Jeffrey Parker, and the Samoan choir of St Anthony’s Parish, which performed a capella variations of parochial hymns.

Dignitaries present included Victorian Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley MP, Peter Walsh MP, Member for Murray Plains and Victorian Leader of the Nationals, Annie Carrett, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australian Superiors of the Salesian Sisters and Fathers, Sr Louise McKeogh FMA and Fr Will Matthews SDB, and Joshua Lourensz, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria.

Senior Catholic health care representatives included CEO and Chair of Villa Maria Catholic Homes, Sonya Smart and Julien O’Connell, John Willis from St Vincent’s Health Australia, Denis Byrne from St John of God Health Care and Virginia Bourke, Chair of Mercy Health. 

Iconic personalities of CatholicCare were well represented, including Fr Gerard Dowling, presenter of Australia’s longest running radio program, The Family Counsellor and Sr Mary O’Shannassy SGS, Director of Victorian Prison Ministry and one of Victoria’s most experienced prison chaplains.


Watch a replay of the Mass 


Jordan Grantham | CatholicCare Victoria


For media enquiries, please contact Bernadette Garcia, Executive Manager - Communications, Fundraising and Marketing on (03) 9287 5529 or at bernadette.garcia@ccam.org.au 


Photo: Victoria Bishops with CatholicCare Victoria regional representatives.
Photography by Fiona Basile | Melbourne Catholic


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25 March 2021
Category: News
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