Shrine of the Holy Innocents aims to promote a culture of life
|The Shrine of the Holy Innocents at Kellyville was blessed by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP. Photo: Virginia Knight|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook, December 2013/January 2014
By Virginia Knight
The Shrine of the Holy Innocents at Kellyville was blessed by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP before the beautiful new chapel at the Franciscan Friary in June 2013.
Rector of the shrine Fr Adrian Robson OFM Conv said the brothers at Mount St Francis Friary had been hoping to build a chapel for unborn children for nearly 20 years.
The friary is set on a huge tract of land in Greyfriar Place, which is now surrounded by suburban homes. The concept for the Garden of the Immaculate began in 1993. At first it was only a grotto with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which the friars obtained from a congregation of sisters in Sydney.
The Garden of the Immaculate was developed on the site, with plans to include a memorial for the unborn child. The first Mass for the unborn child and the sanctity of life was celebrated in the garden in May 1994. Mass has been celebrated on the last Saturday of each month ever since.
“In recent times, Bishop Anthony has given us the privilege of celebrating the annual Mass of the Holy Innocents, whose feast day is 28 December,” Fr Adrian said.
The building of the new shrine dedicated to the Holy Innocents began in November 2011. It has taken two years to see the dream become a reality after more than $500,000 was raised by the residents of the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary and the wider community, including major sponsor Kenthurst businessman Walter Bachmann of BAC Systems.
Donations came from people all over Australia who learnt of the project through the Franciscan order’s newsletter, The Little Troubadour.
“The chapel is a haven,” Fr Adrian said. “The shrine now stands as a ministry of the Conventual Franciscans of Australia, as a way of promoting a culture of life in a society which sadly seems to prefer a culture of death.”
Ehrat Constructions has won architecture awards for the shrine including the 2013 Hills Building & Design Awards for both Innovative Architectural Design and Overall Excellence in Building & Design.
In the interior, artist Theodore Velin (aged 75), originally from Bulgaria, has painted a beautiful fresco on the chapel’s impressive domed ceiling and also created four religious mosaics for the chapel. Each mosaic took three months to complete.
His icons of St Clare and St Francis flank the entrance to the shrine. The fresco on the dome features the Virgin Mary and St Maximilian Kolbe, who established the Marian Apostolate, which the order follows.
The Franciscans consider the shrine a place of holy beauty and have begun landscaping the surrounding grounds. The walk through the garden will be modelled on the 14 Stations of the Cross, depicting Jesus’ path to His crucifixion with sculptural representations in almost life-size figures.
“The brothers hope that the gardens and chapel will be something that the whole community can enjoy,” Fr Adrian said. “Christ came to give life in abundance and the spirituality of the shrine will reflect such in its beauty and prayerful presence under the aegis of our Blessed Mother who bore our Saviour and shares in her Son’s life-giving mission.”
The monthly service for parents who have lost unborn children will now be held at the new shrine of the Holy Innocents on the last Saturday of each month.
In addition to the monthly Mass for the unborn, which includes all-night adoration prior to Mass at 11am and Benediction, Mass is celebrated on the first Saturday of each month at 11am with Confession.
Mass is also celebrated every weekday at 6.45am (Monday to Friday). On special Marian occasions, devotions take place in the shrine.
The shrine and the grounds are open every day from 6am to 6pm. “All are most welcome to visit and pray in a place of quiet reflection,” Fr Adrian said.
For more information about Mass times, Confessions and devotions, please contact Mount St Francis Friary tel (02) 9629 1558.
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