Why do we...

A message from the Vice President Father Anthony Casamento.

The other day I was pleased to be welcomed by Professor Herb Marsh and the team from our Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (IPPE) to bless their new office space in 33 Berry Street on the North Sydney Campus.

Afterwards when I joined the Institute staff for morning tea, one of the staff asked me to explain a bit more about why we bless our offices and what was it all about. This got me thinking about how many other staff across our campuses have wondered the same thing, especially given that this year we have blessed a number of buildings (Mercy in Banyo, Veritas in Signadou) and office spaces across our campuses.

So, what is a blessing? Well, the short answer is that a blessing is a proclamation that invokes the abiding, loving and sustaining presence of God upon a person, place or thing so that they might flourish according to God’s purpose and design.

At ACU, the most common things that we bless are buildings or office spaces; ourselves (at Masses, graduation ceremonies, Anzac and Remembrance Day ceremonies); and on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, many of our staff have their pets blessed on campus in honour of the saint who so loved animals and God’s creation.

What happens at a blessing? In the Catholic tradition, blessings are rich in meaning and symbolism. A blessing usually consists of a combination of elements: prayer, a word proclaimed (from scripture), a special ritual sign or a gesture of blessing (sometimes accompanied by an object such as a crucifix, or sacred book), and, at times the sprinkling of holy water on that which is being blessed (water is understood to be a sign of life itself).

So why do we bless things at ACU? For a number of reasons. As a Catholic university, immersed in the traditions and culture of our Catholic faith, we seek God’s free gift of blessing and offer in return our response of praise, seeing blessings as signs of faith, hope and love:

Faith: we trust in the goodness of the person whose blessings we ask to receive (God)

Hope: we commit ourselves to being open to and embracing the blessing

Love: we want to become a positive source of goodness (a blessing) in the lives of others and particularly for the teaching and research that we undertake on our campuses.

To ask for a blessing is to acknowledge that we need something beyond ourselves to help us to flourish; and to express our University’s faith in God’s goodness. In short, every blessing praises God and prays that God will continue to gift us and our University community with goodness.

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