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Bishops to officially recognise Mary Help of Christians as Patron of Australia

Australia's Catholic bishops will this week hold a special ceremony next week to renew the patronage of the Virgin Mary under the title Mary Help of Christians as Patron Saint of Australia.

The event will take place on Thursday evening (3 May) at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

The Australian Bishops decided that the centenary of Federation and the beginning of the new millennium was the occasion to renew Australia's devotion to Mary Help of Christians. The ceremony will be one of the main official events for the Centenary of Federation.

Principal Celebrant for the Ceremony and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops'Conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll said, "The bishops of Australia thought it an opportune time, being gathered in Sydney for our Plenary Meeting, to hold a special ceremony in the Australian Cathedral that is dedicated to Mary Help of Christians renewing our devotion to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ."

"We hope that Catholics will join with us in this historic celebration," he said. "At some time in the future, this event will undoubtedly be linked to that which took place in September, 1844 when the Church in Australia was first placed under the Patronage of Mary Help of Christians."

Parishes throughout Australia have also been asked to conduct their own renewal ceremonies on the actual Feast Day of Mary Help of Christians, 24 May. The National Liturgical Commission has prepared a liturgy, accompanied by explanatory notes, for use in parishes. Posters and holy cards are also available.

"In this the Centenary Year of Federation and the first year of the new millennium we are provided with the unique opportunity to reflect on the past and to look to the future," said Archbishop Carroll. "Renewing our devotion to Mary Help of Christians and asking her to accompany and guide us on the continuing journey is as relevant today as it was in the mid-19th century."

The liturgy will be available on the Bishops' Conference website later today.