Banksia Grove honours St John Paul II devotion with new statues

29 Feb 2024

By The Record

Archbishop Costelloe, assisted by Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong, blesses the new St Dominic Rose Garden at Banksia Grove Parish, Sunday 28 January. Photo: Duli Anthony.

As we celebrate the first anniversary of the consecration of the beautiful church, may the Lord, through the intercession of Pope St John Paul II renew in us our desire to walk in his way, to remain faithful to his truth, and to live the richness of his life, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has said.

Archbishop Costelloe was speaking at the first anniversary Mass for the opening of the Banksia Grove Parish, St John Paul II Church, Sunday 28 January.

“May this community be a source of hope for us when we are losing hope, a source of strength for us when our own strength fails, and a source of deep faith for us when we are in danger of losing our way,” Archbishop Costelloe continued.

Concelebrating with Archbishop Costelloe was Parish Priest, Fr Vinh Dong and visiting Salesian Fr Will Matthews SDB, and with Deacon Jason Yeap assisting.

Archbishop Costelloe blesses the new presbytery, Sunday 28 January at Banksia Grove Parish, assisted by Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong and Deacon Jason Yeap. Photo: Duli Anthony.

More than 600 parishioners came together for the occasion, with Archbishop Costelloe also blessing the new presbytery, five statues of the Virgin Mary and one of St Joseph – which have been made in Vietnam – and the rosary garden.

The first statue, located outside the presbytery, is St Joseph taking the boy Jesus to school, who is carry a school bag marked with the details of St John Paul II Primary.

Parish Priest Fr Vinh explained that the statue has an important link to the challenges faced by the people of Vietnam.

In 1989, when the Vietnamese Communist Government lifted the embargo on religious freedom, religious statues were still not allowed. However, the Dominican Sisters in Vietnam found a clever way to overcome the obstacles, by creating a statue of a man with a child – just like the one of St Joseph taking the boy Jesus to school.

Fr Vinh explains that the statue of St Joseph taking the boy Jesus to school is a reminder of the freedom we have in Australia to practise our faith – while also being an encouragement to practise the faith.

The other statues, representing the various nationalities of Banksia Grove Parish, and which are life-size and placed around the gardens of the Church – include, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of India, Our Lady of Germany and Our Lady of Vietnam.

The St Dominic Rosary Garden also has a statue that Fr Vinh has named Our Lady of the Boat People.

The rosary garden includes an ocean painted on concrete and stepping stones in the shape of a rosary.

Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong explained that the statue of St Joseph with the boy Jesus has an important link to the challenges faced by the people of Vietnam. Photo: Duli Anthony.

Fr Vinh explained to The Record that because St John Paul II – who was pope from 1978 to 2005 – had a special devotion to Our Lady, he felt it was important the parish honoured that devotion with the installation of the statues.

As part of the celebrations, Fr Vinh presented parishioners with a rosary bracelet at the end of Mass, which were made by the orphanage in Vietnam run by the Dominican Sisters.

Speaking about the Gospel story of Jesus selecting the 12 disciples who would be his closest group of followers, Archbishop Costelloe explained that the remarkable aspect of the story was that, despite the constant failure of his closest disciples to be faithful and reliable supporters of Jesus and his mission, Jesus himself never gave up on his disciples.

“He was endlessly patient with them, understanding of their weakness and frailty, and always ready to forgive, encourage and support them,” Archbishop Costelloe highlighted.

So often, Archbishop Costelloe continued, we can find ourselves as unfaithful as those first twelve apostles of Jesus were so regularly.

Deacon Jason Yeap hands out the rosary bracelets, Sunday 28 January at Banksia Grove Parish. Photo: Duli Anthony.

“As Pope Francis so often says about himself, we too are sinners in need of God’s mercy.

“This is why we begin every Mass by calling to mind our sins and asking for God’s forgiveness,” he said.

One of the prayers we often use at the beginning of Mass for this purpose expresses this very clearly: “You were sent to heal the contrite of heart”, we pray. “You came to call sinners; you are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us: Lord, have mercy.”

“It is this recognition of our tendency to fail the Lord and to fall into patterns of sin which explains why Pope Francis is constantly reminding us that the Church must be a home for everyone.

“We all struggle, we all fail, and sometimes we find ourselves caught in situations from which we do not know how to set ourselves free.

“It is important that we recognise this, and that we remember that the Church is not an exclusive club for the perfect but a home for weak and sinful people who know they need the grace of God to lead more faithful lives – it is a home, in other words, for each one of us and for all God’s people,” Archbishop Costelloe said.