The Visit of the Relic of St Francis Xavier
I have heard from many people that the visit of the Relic in our Diocese was very useful and enriching especially in this Year of Grace.
The relic was welcomed with great joy and enthusiasm into our Diocese at St Patrick’s Church – Lithgow at 4:00pm on Thursday, 20th September. Fr Owen Gibbons Celebrated a welcoming liturgy and Fr Richard Shorthall SJ gave a beautiful sharing about the Relic and about the life of St Francis Xavier. The veneration of the Relic at Lithgow parish concluded with a concelebrated Mass. The Relic then travelled to the following places: The Diocesan House of Prayer, Carcoar: St James Church, Blayney; St John’s College, Dubbo; St Joseph’s Church, Gilgandra; St Francis Xavier’s Church, Goolma; St Mary’s Church, Mudgee; St Malachy’s Church, Rylstone, and reached Bathurst Cathedral Parish on Saturday at 7:00pm. The Relic had a great reception everywhere.
We welcomed the Relic to our Cathedral Parish at the Assumption Church at 7:00pm and we had a one hour veneration. The congregation was of all ages from young infants to the elderly and included several families. The veneration was led by Rev. Fr. Richard Shorthall SJ and his presentation of St Francis’ life story was very interesting and enjoyable particularly because of the way Father recounted not only the details, but divided the story into sections, each leading to a meditation point and a relevance to life in 2012, thereby linking the Saint to our times and this Year of Grace. Father also engaged the children and they had a special few moments to venerate the Relic and pray together a children’s prayer. Many people commented afterwards how special the evening was and how they experienced the grace and blessing of Almighty God through the life and ministry of St Francis Xavier.
On Sunday morning after the 8:00am Mass in the Assumption Church, the Relic was transferred to the Cathedral by 9:30am for the 10:00am Mass. Many people took the opportunity to venerate the Relic prior to the commencement of Mass. A large number venerated the Relic at the conclusion of Mass and then by 11:30am the Relic was farewelled to the Wollongong Diocese.
During the Masses Father Shorthall once again explained the history of the Relic and briefly outlined the life and missionary journeys of St Francis Xavier. The prayer card, booklet and pilgrimage timetable information available at both churches was of assistance for everyone, especially those unfamiliar with the story of St Francis Xavier.
Generally the feeling was one of gratitude for the presence of the Relic and the work involved in bringing the Relic to Australia and particularly the country areas. Many people attended both the welcome liturgy and the Sunday Masses in the presence of the Relic at the Assumption and the Cathedral Churches.
One of our parishioners said: “We were grateful to be able to spend time in the presence of the Relic of St. Francis Xavier. The experience enabled us to consider prayerfully the great sacrifice he made to spread the faith and prompted us to consider our role and responsibility in sharing this great gift of God. It was rather special to be able to view the relic closely in our own parish. We trust the effort involved in bringing it to visit all parts of the country will be spiritually uplifting for those who have the opportunity to hear Fr. Richard’s presentation of the life and remarkable work of St. Francis Xavier.”
Another one remarked: “The manner in which Fr. Richard dealt with the presence of the relic of St. Francis Xavier enabled me to identify with what he was able to achieve in such a short lifetime. To stand in front of the relic of his right arm was somewhat overwhelming as it seemed St. Francis had come and found me. Very spiritual.”
Thanks to all the parish priests and all who were involved in the pilgrimage of the Relic. Special thanks to Rev. Fr. Greg Bellamy for drafting the welcoming liturgy and to Rev. Fr. Tim Cahill for singing and recording the hymn of St Francis Xavier, made available to every parish in the Diocese. And a very special thanks to the Funeral Director Michael Lyons and all the funeral directors who were involved in the transportation of the Relic all over the Diocese.
Fr Joshy cmi