By Amanda Murthy
Following the re-dedication of Geraldton Parish St Francis Xavier Cathedral, a pilgrimage to follow in the footsteps of its first priest, designer, architect and builder, Monsignor Hawes, is set to depart Perth on 5 May.
The organisation of the pilgrimage is a result of the increased awareness and appreciation for the life of this incredible character engendered by the Church project and the Museum.
The extensive 19-day-journey themed ‘In the Steps of Monsignor John Hawes, accompanied by Bishop Justin Bianchini’ will explore significant places around the United Kingdom, where he spent his younger years.
They will then head to the Bahamas, where Mgr Hawes designed and built more than 20 buildings and ministered to the people for the last 17 years of his life.
Bishop Bianchini acknowledged Mgr Hawes contribution both as an Anglican and Catholic priest, and explained what participants can expect to take from the Pilgrimage.
“As he used his God given gifts through architecture, especially the building of churches, Monsignor Hawes’ life was a long pilgrimage of discovering God.
“As we traverse the extent of his architecture in England and the Bahamas, there will be many times we also will tap into his spiritual journey,” he said.
Pilgrimage Coordinator Ms Gerry Eastman said the pilgrimage has taken more than a year to organise. There are currently 16 people registered, but there is still room for a few more.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for people who have an interest in Mgr Hawes to travel the world with like-minded people, to visit the significant sites related to his life, while paying tribute to a man who has left such a legacy that is highly regarded to this day.
“I would highly encourage more people to join us in this unique experience,” she said.
Touching on some of the special events that are scheduled to take place, Ms Eastman said that Nassau’s Archbishop Patrick Pinder will celebrate mass with the pilgrims at Nassau Parish, St Francis Xavier Cathedral, followed by a welcome reception.
Archbishop Pinder will also accompany the group to Cat Island, where Mgr Hawes was laid to rest in 1956.
Last December, the Spanish mission style Cathedral was reinaugurated after it went through with a nine million restoration project.
Refurbishments included repainting of the Cathedral’s interior, restoration of the original Cathedral baptistery, and the installation of stained glass windows, which paid tribute to Mgr Hawes and Bishop Kelly, who was the man responsible for bringing Mgr Hawes to Western Australia.
Other restorations included the landscaping, and construction of a Mgr Hawes Heritage Centre, which has an in-house café and Museum. On 19 April, a bronze statue of Monsignor Hawes with his beloved companion dog Dominie was installed at the entrance to the Heritage Centre.