The Spirit of ANZAC - We Will Remember

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
17 Apr 2015

ANZAC Eve Solemn Vigil Mass at St Mary's Cathedral next Friday, 24th April at 5.30pm

Next week we will hear the stories of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915 and remember the spirit of ANZAC - courage, mateship and sacrifice.

This year however is of special significance, the 100th anniversary of a daring naval and military plan which ultimately bore horrendous results but forged the ANZAC spirit.

And on 25th April special commemorative services will be held around Australia from small and isolated country communities to the capitol cities and the National War Memorial in Canberra.

There will be services and gathering for Australians and New Zealanders around the world including Domus Australia, the boutique Australian guest house in Rome where embassy representatives will come together for a special ANZAC Day Mass.

There will also be an ANZAC Eve Solemn Vigil Mass at St Mary's Cathedral next Friday, 24th April at 5.30pm which will be celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher and attended by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd) .Governor Hurley will also read the First Reading at the Mass.

It will be 30 years since the tradition of an ANZAC Eve Vigil Mass began in the Archdiocese of Sydney, with the first Vigil Mass being celebrated in 1985.
This year's Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and concelebrants including those who have served as military chaplains.  It will be attended by many past and present members of the three branches of Australia's Defence Force: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, their families and others who will mark ANZAC Day in prayer.  The Mass has been recognised as being worthy of official Australian Defence Force representation.

Coming together for the celebration of Mass during the ANZAC Day commemorations is a reminder of the centrality and importance of prayer for the safety of those currently serving in Australia and abroad, and the repose of those who have passed in the service of this country.  Prayers will also be offered for the family members of those who are serving and who have served - in recognition of and petition for the gifts of courage and fortitude needed by those left behind.

The Mass will also be a time to pray for an end to all wars and conflicts currently going on throughout the world.

The Solemn Vigil Mass of Remembrance is held in the early evening of ANZAC Eve to enable those current Armed Forces personnel, veterans, reservists and their families to attend ANZAC Day's dawn services, marches and other commemorations.

The spirit of ANZAC was born at the Gallipoli

While ANZAC Day is a day for remembrance of and prayer for all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, this year's celebrations will be particularly poignant because 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of the ANZACs in Gallipoli.

In keeping with the tradition of previous ANZAC Eve Solemn Vigils, an Irish-made elaborately-carved 120 year old silver chalice will be used for the Holy Eucharist.  It is the same chalices used by military chaplains on the beaches of Gallipoli 100 years ago.  The ANZAC Eve Vigil Mass is the only time when the chalice is used.

The chalice was presented to Royal Australian Naval Chaplain, Father James Edward King in 1920.  It was kept as an heirloom of Fr James' death in 1935, and was gifted to St Mary's Cathedral in 2007.

The Mass is an important way for Catholics to pay tribute to those who have laid down their lives for others.

All are welcome to the ANZAC Eve Solemn Vigil Mass of Remembrance at St Mary's Cathedral at 5.30 pm on Friday, 24 April.

History of the Dawn Service and Gallipoli Landing:

The largest ANZAC Day commemoration outside Australia will be held at Gallipoli.

Each year Australia and New Zealand conduct three commemorative services at Gallipoli: a joint Dawn Service at the ANZAC Commemorative site, followed by an Australian Memorial Service at Lone Pine, and a New Zealand Memorial Service at Chunuk Bair.

Organisers, including the Turkish Government - the commemorative sites are on sovereign territory of the Turkish people - are expecting great numbers. Tickets have been issued to the site itself however many are expected to make the five hour journey from Istanbul to spend some time close to Gallipoli. Many others will be on boats and cruise ships off the coast.

The Dawn Service is a sombre, thoughtful and respectful time to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of all who have served Australia and New Zealand during periods of war and peace but especially the 36,141 Australians and New Zealanders killed or wounded.

Gallipoli today

It is also believed the Dawn Service had its origins in a military routine still followed by the Australian Army. The half-light of dawn was one of the times most favoured for launching an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time the first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert and weapon-ready.

Such was the case with the landing at Gallipoli. At 1.00am on the 25th of April 1915 the Australian soldiers climbed down the rope ladders from their British battleships and into  boats where they rowed towards the landing site. However the Allies had overshot the planned landing site which was to be a beach a couple of kilometres away. Instead they landed on a pebble beach described by some historians as less than the width of a cricket pitch.

It was around 4.30am and the Turkish defenders had already spotted the boats and the Australians were under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.

By early afternoon the plan had failed,  the invasion had become a siege lasting eight and a half months but the spirit of ANZAC was born.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)