August 13, 2012
Recently Margaret Gillespie rsj and Di Phillips rsj, joined Fr Thomas Areekuzy and the Kerala community in Brisbane, to celebrate the lives of St Mary MacKillop and St Alphonsa of Kerala. A new statue of St Mary MacKillop, brought out from India, was one of the focal points of the procession held after the Syro-Malabar Rite of Mass.
|Statue of Mary MacKillop|
Fr Thomas greeted us at the church entrance with a hug for each of us and said, “I am so pleased that you came,” he said. “This will be very different for you. Thank you for coming”.
Different it was. The first things we noticed were the metallic streamers stretched out in front of the church. The sound coming from them was like heavy rain as the breeze rattled through them. As we approached the church steps we couldn’t help but see the colourful umbrellas, flags and additional streamers. We looked for the statue of Mary MacKillop and found her in a glass case, holding a large crucifix in her hands. Her feet were surrounded by flowers and lights. A coloured lei was placed over the glass case. The statues of St Alphonsa and of Mary Mother of God were equally decorated. Each would be carried in the procession after Mass.
Mass began with the entrance of four priests from Kerala. Their vestments were made up of highly decorated stoles worn under copes of gold with red embroidery, all made in India. Neither of us had experienced the colour, the exuberance and beauty of this ancient Indian rite before. Two hours later we took part in a procession in which the statues were carried high on the shoulders of several men while the relics of St Alphonsa were carried by the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge.
“The Archbishop has been to Kerala several times and he was at the canonisation of St Alphonsa”, Fr Thomas said. “He knows us well. We are pleased to have him amongst us”.
Indian music was provided by a band of amateurs, whose members were from around Brisbane. “None of them played the drums before coming to Australia. They sent for the instruments from India and set about learning how to play them”, Fr Thomas informed us.
Celebrating Mary MacKillop in this way was a wonderful mix of sound, colour and jubilation. We were really pleased to have accepted Fr Thomas’s invitation and not a little proud to see Mary MacKillop honoured in such a way.