Homily given by Bishop Anthony Randazzo
Bishop of Broken Bay
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral
Monday 25 April 2022
Stan Arneil was born in Katoomba, NSW in 1918 and he described his childhood as “very happy”. He also said that “although we were very poor, I never knew it”. His mother died when he was a young child, and he was subsequently raised by his father.
He received an education to “intermediate standard” and secured his first job in a garage “working 70 hours a week for 15 shillings”. Sadly, Stan lost his father when he was just 20 in 1938 and he borrowed the money to pay for the funeral.
Two years later, in 1940, Stan became a combatant in World War II as an infantryman. With the rank of Sergeant, he was part of the unconditional surrender of Allied Forces to the Japanese in Singapore in 1942.
For the remainder of the War, Stan Arneil endured the atrocious conditions of the Changi Prisoner of War Camp while working on the Burma Railway.
This short excerpt from Stan’s life and military service assists us today, not to glorify the menace of war, rather, his suffering provides us with the narrative of sacrifice for a greater good, for the good of others, for the common good.
Under conditions which have been described as vile and inhumane, Stan, and countless others from the imprisoned 15000 Australians at Changi, learned about cooperation, as Stan once said, “you couldn’t go through a day or a night without someone helping you”.
Today, across Australia and New Zealand, we remember in a particular way, men and women who lost their lives while serving their country. We also remember those who having served in the theatre of war or as peacekeepers, returned home and continued to make an invaluable contribution to the fabric of our society.
ANZAC Day offers us an opportunity to recognise in our brothers and sisters, the high ideals of companionship, integrity, and the peace that they sought to uphold and protect, so that the world might be a better place.
For Christians, the events of Holy Week and the season of Easter, allow us to glimpse a greater value in life as we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As a person whose life reflected companionship, integrity, and peace, might we see in Stan Arneil the kind of virtue and Christlikeness that Jesus calls us to imitate in discipleship?
ANZAC Day commemorations are not intended to glorify war. Nor is our gathering in any way political.
What we are doing is firstly a sign of hope and trust in the mercy and love of God. Our deeds demonstrate profound and sincere esteem for our brothers and sisters who have served.
Our invocations are directed to God our Father who sent His Son, Jesus, so that death and destruction may never consume us.
We embrace those who have lost their loved ones in the communion of faith as we look to the light of Christ, who dispels the darkness of night. (cf. Isaiah 9:1-6)
My sisters and brothers, this ANZAC Day we commemorate those who have laid down their lives in imitation of Christ and for the service of our Country. May our remembrance of their dying make us ardent advocates for peace in our time.
Might we be inspired by these final words which do not belong to me but to Stan Arneil. When speaking about the dying servicemen in Changi he said, “No one ever died alone - they were surrounded by love and prayers.”
May the peace of the Risen Christ reign in our hearts, in our community, in our world, and in our time.