Pentecost Sunday 5 June 2022

“We are short staffed tonight. Please be patient.”

Notices like this are seen often around Bendigo…and elsewhere, I presume.

One, at a nearby hotel, adds, “You may experience a short wait before we can serve you.”

And then it adds, “But we are doing our best.”

I am sure that the few Apostles gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost Day may well have been fearful, perhaps of the Jews again. After all, they were in Jerusalem! Perhaps somewhat confused by the recent command to go first to Galilee and after those experiences, to now go back to Jerusalem. What is going on? They remembered his words, “Go to the whole world” and even with the gift of the Spirit were surely thinking, “But we are so short staffed!”

It is one thing to have had that wonderful experience of speaking in foreign languages and, after all, they were only Galileans; and then to wake up next day with some understanding of what had happened and, what’s more, what has to happen.

They, too, perhaps said, “Please be patient”.

In time, they realised that a great part of their mission was what Phillip learned in the presence of the Ethiopian eunuch, “How can I, unless someone shows me.”

It is nearly 2000 years since the first Pentecost.

Against a background of bustling suburbs, declining rural population, cultural changing CBDs, and a few resurgent regional centres, there are many signs of short staff in our Australian Church communities. There are even places very short of customers.

We, perhaps, need to take a deep breath and ponder, are “we hearing them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God?” and, secondly, what sort of staff do we really need?

Big questions as the delegates gather for the next session of the Plenary council.

In the meantime, “You may experience a short wait before we can serve you.”

It is consoling to know “we are doing our best…”

But…we are called to renew the face of the earth.


.Mons Frank


Feast of the Ascension of the Lord 29 May 2022

“I would like to say a Hail Mary for all the mothers…in Texas”.

Spoken a little emotionally, but strongly; brought a deep silence to the 40 plus community of residents and members of the Chaplaincy Team. We had gathered in the beautiful prisoner designed and built Chapel in Loddon Prison around 5.30pm on Friday night.

The work of the chaplaincy has just resumed this month after a Covid ban of two years. There are two prisons in Castlemaine; the new Middleton and the longer established Loddon. Between 700 and 800 men live there. The Chaplaincy service provides opportunity for nine faith groups to be available for the welfare of the residents.

We were celebrating the feast of the Ascension. The locals read. They really sang. The responses were loud and clear. All in all, a very humbling experience.

The reading from Acts asks us “…to be witnesses not only in Jerusalem but also…” in prison. The man who asked for a “Hail Mary for the mothers” changed the atmosphere and we all were more prayerful. It enabled a much younger man to announce that he was present for the first time… He was welcomed.

The Gospel account has Jesus reminding his disciples of their Scriptural history and of his work with the words, “You are witnesses to this.”

My first prison visit since my first prison visit at Beechworth in the late 1960’s (they asked how long I was in), reminded me that even in prisons there have been changes, thankfully, but some things remain the same.

The value of witness…even in small things.

Looking back on those encounters I think the value of the Chaplaincy is to make real the words of Paul today, “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you…”

Our witness, outside the walls, can do the same.

Let’s stop standing looking into the sky and get on with the job.

Mons Frank

P.S. According to Sister Mary O’ Shannassy SCG, the Victoria budget for Correctional services is $8 billion pa.