By Matthew Lau
The unique combination of two solemn celebrations – the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and the consecration of the new Attadale Parish Church – have last weekend come to fruition for the Archdiocese of Perth.
The Attadale Catholic community gathered in unity for the initiation and official dedication of St Joseph Pignatelli Church, located on Wichmann Rd, on 13 May, consecrated by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, in a Mass which also marked the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.
A line from the processional hymn, “Christ, be our light. Shine in your Church gathered today”, proved fitting as light filtered through the large cross-shaped window situated above the altar.
Archbishop Costelloe was the principal celebrant of the Mass which was also concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Vicar General Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely, Attadale Parish Priest Fr Sean Fernandez and various Archdiocesan Priests, assisted by Deacon John Kiely.
During his homily for the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe spoke of the combination of two solemn celebrations in one.
“Each, in a very real sense, deserves to be the sole focus of a liturgical celebration,” he said.
“Nevertheless, precisely because of the deepest meaning of the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension, the consecration of this beautiful Church can take on special meaning for us.”
“This is because this celebration, so rich in symbol, invites us to reflect on what this Church – and of course more importantly the community which gathers here for prayer and worship – is called to be for the world in which we live.”
He encouraged the congregation to contemplate what the relationship between the Church and its faith community is with the risen Lord, and how to comprehend His ascension.
“St John’s Gospel tells us that when Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Jesus and finally recognised him, she fell at his feet and clasped them. Jesus immediately said to her, ‘Mary, do not cling to me as I have not yet ascended to my Father’.”
“Mary Magdalene certainly had to learn to let go of the Lord as she had known him before she would be able to truly find him again. Perhaps the same may be true for us.”
Archbishop Costelloe said it is through the Sacraments and the Eucharist that we as Christians can be “the living signs and bearers of God’s extraordinary love for all his people”.
“It is true that the Church is not fundamentally buildings but rather communities of disciples. But it is precisely because we are communities, rather than autonomous and self-reliant individuals, that we need to come together,” he expressed.
“Jesus called his disciples together, shared his life with them, and formed them into a family who could, together, say not ‘My Father who art in heaven’ but ‘Our Father who art in heaven’.”
The original church building was constructed 63 years ago and was only meant to be temporary, but Attadale Parish did not have enough funds till now to build a permanent church – the first in the world to be dedicated to Jesuit, Saint Joseph Pignatelli SJ.
The project started after a generous donation was made by the late Doug King, a bequest in memory of his wife Beulah.
In his speech of appreciation, Fr Sean Fernandez thanked everyone who played a role in making the project come to fruition and remembered those who did not live to see the day.
“The living and the dead, we are all one in the Risen Lord,” he said.