Holy Relic of St Francis Xavier to visit Diocese of Parramatta
|Veneration at St Mary’s Church in North Sydney on Sunday 16 September.|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook November 2012
The Holy Relic of St Francis Xavier is touring Australia and will visit the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta in November.
From Tuesday 27 to Friday 30 November, Mass will be celebrated and prayer and veneration held in Holy Family Mt Druitt Parish in Emerton, St Francis Xavier’s Church in Wentworth Falls (part of St Mary MacKillop Upper Blue Mountains Parish) and St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta.
The relic - the right arm of St Francis Xavier - has been brought to Australia from the Gesù, the Jesuit church in Rome where for 400 years it has been in the care of the Society of Jesus.
The Australian tour is being organised by the Archdiocese of Sydney, with the support of Bishop Peter Comensoli.
Australian Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ said the Australian Jesuits welcomed this famous relic.
“The tour of the relic will remind the Australian Church of one of the greatest missionary journeys, not only in terms of the vast sea distances covered, but also with respect to the journey into different cultures:
“Firstly, southern India, where this arm was raised to baptise thousands of new Christians;
“Next, the islands of present-day Indonesia (the closest Francis came to Australian shores);
“Then Japan, where he was confronted by a confident, sophisticated culture that forced him to rethink his missionary strategy;
“Finally, realising that the key to converting Japan was first to convert China, the shores of that great empire, where he died virtually alone, knocking on a door that his Jesuit followers would enter several decades later. The relic puts us in touch with this trailblazing story.”
Fr Robin Koning SJ, who has been working with the Archdiocese of Sydney to prepare for the tour, said with the relic in our midst we reaffirm our place within the wider Church in Asia.
“A lot of the countries where Francis Xavier has engaged in Asia have become more and more important in Australia’s relations with the world,” he said.
“The Australian Church has also been blessed in recent decades by an influx of Catholics from countries where Francis Xavier evangelised, such as Sri Lanka and India.”
Over a 10-year period starting in 1542, the great missionary saint preached, helped and baptised into the Christian faith tens of thousands of people in Goa, East India, Sri Lanka, parts of modern-day Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan.
Today, many of the Christian migrants from these countries are among those who religiously fill Australian churches every week. In turn, they enrich and shape the Australian Church with their own culture, faith and zeal.
The Australian connection to St Francis Xavier’s missionary work could also be much closer than we think.
“Xavier actually came very close to Australian shores in his travels,” Fr Koning said.
“I’ve seen an image of Xavier in the chapel at St Ignatius Athelstone in Adelaide, standing underneath the Southern Cross.
“I’ve always thought it was a pious symbol to connect him with Australia. But then I realised that some of his missionary work was in the Southern Hemisphere, out of Indonesia. So he would have actually gazed upon the Southern Cross.”
Invocare is providing transport of the reliquary by hearse from one diocese to another through its network of funeral directors. WN Bull has been appointed to safeguard and arrange transport of the relic in Sydney and the Diocese of Parramatta.
The relic will finish its journey in St Francis Xavier's Church, Lavender Bay, on the Feast of St Francis Xavier on Monday 3 December after a final Mass at St Mary's Cathedral. On Tuesday 4 December, the relic will return to Rome.
Details about the national Pilgrimage of Grace at: www.pilgrimageofgrace.org.au
Information about the Australian Jesuits and St Francis Xavier at: www.express.org.au
The combined December 2012/January 2013 issue of Catholic Outlook will include coverage of the visit of the relic of St Francis Xavier to the Diocese of Parramatta.
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