By Jamie O’Brien
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has earlier this month blessed the foundation stone for the proposed new Church at Banksia Grove Parish, encouraging the congregation not to be afraid to throw open the doors of their heart to Christ.
In the presence of more than 700 parishioners and friends, including those from the parish from Greenwood and Lockridge, the Vietnamese Catholic Community and Singapore, Archbishop Costelloe celebrated the blessing of the foundation stone Mass on Sunday 11 November.
Archbishop Costelloe was joined by co-celebrants Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong, Cloverdale Parish Priest Fr Michael Quynh Do, Yangebup Assistant Parish Priest Fr Joseph Laundy, Whitford Assistant Parish Priest Fr Truc Jerome Nguyen, Fr Tai from the Geraldton Diocese and assisted by Deacon Trevor Lyra.
Visiting priests Fr Khai and Fr Thuat, from Vietnam, who are friends of Fr Vinh, were also co-celebrants for the Mass.
Following the blessing of the foundation stone on the neighbouring block of land where the new Church will be built, the congregation processed to the undercover hall at John Paul II Primary School, where Mass is celebrated weekly.
“You will build the Church, I know, with enthusiasm, with hope, and with pride,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“But today I want to ask you to also wonder in what ways you can, as a parish community, really take to heart, the words of the Lord to St Francis: go and rebuild my Church for it is falling into ruin,” he said.
Parishioners of various multicultural backgrounds made significant contribution to the Mass, including the Filipino community who co-ordinated the music and choir, the African community who gave vocal praises, the Indian community who carried the gifts for the offertory procession, as well as several people who spoke the prayers of the faithful in their native tongue.
Speaking about the experience of St Francis of Assisi, Archbishop Costelloe started by talking about the Feast of the Lateran Basilica, and his own journey to Rome and visit to the Basilica when he was a young priest in 1990.
He then explained St Francis of Assisi’s encounter with Pope Innocent III, noting the famous vision of St Francis, who while praying before a cross, heard a voice which said to him, “Go and rebuild my Church which is falling into ruin”.
Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying that as we grapple with the many difficulties which confront the Lord’s Church at the moment, we know that many people believe the Church to be experiencing a crisis at least as major as the one facing the Church at the time of Saint Francis and Pope Innocent.
“We rightly focus on the difficulties facing the Church today, which we cannot ignore in the hope that they will go away, but we should also focus on what is at the heart of the story of Saint Francis,” he said.
“It is this: in times of crisis the Lord does not abandon His Church. On the contrary he raises up people who will allow him to work through them to bring renewal and wholeness to the Church whose fundamental identity, as the Body of Christ, has been so disfigured by the failures of so many.
Archbishop Costelloe explained that St Francis would have been judged originally to be the most unlikely and unsuitable of solutions to the Church’s problems at that time.
“We should be prepared to be equally surprised by the ways in which the Lord chooses to work in our own time to rebuild His Church,” he said.
Archbishop Costelloe concluded by encouraging the congregation to let their enthusiasm and anticipation, as they watch the Church building rise up before their eyes lead them to commit themselves, with the same enthusiasm and anticipation, to the task of building a true Catholic community of faith.
“A community of whole Gospel beauty outshines even the beauty of the new Church which will soon be the centre of your faith and worship.
“This is the real vocation of this parish and perhaps it can be summed up in some words from your own parish patron: do not be afraid – throw open the doors of your hearts to Christ.”
At the conclusion of Mass, the Parish community provided packed authentic lunches of noodles and rice, followed by entertainment by the Vietnamese community.
Fr Vinh also presented the two visiting priests from Vietnam with a donation for their new Church building plans.