The centenary of the arrival of the Salesians in Australia was celebrated by hundreds of Perth Catholics venerating the relics of St John Bosco.
Touring the parishes of Kelmscott, St Mary’s Cathedral, Fremantle and Banksia Grove from 15 to 20 September, the relics were encased within an intricately designed glass casket as a wax replica of the saint’s body.
Speaking during his homily for the 11am Mass Sunday 17 September, Archbishop Costelloe explained the Salesians first came here to Western Australia in response to a request from the Holy See to establish a mission for young people in the Kimberley.
“They landed in Fremantle, were welcomed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and very soon after made their way to the North-west.
“Expecting to find large numbers of indigenous young people with no one to care for them, these first Salesians was surprised to discover that the Pallotine Fathers were already there and doing a very fine job.
“After a few rather tense years, the Salesians decided to withdraw, and were ready to return to their home countries in Europe when Archbishop Mannix, the Archbishop of Melbourne at that time, invited them to establish a presence in his Archdiocese,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
Joining Archbishop Costelloe for the 11am Mass, Sunday 17 September, was Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Cathedral Dean, Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, St Charles Seminary Rector, Fr Francis Nguyen, Msgr Michael Keating and Salesian Provincial for Australia and Oceania, Fr William Matthews SBD, who hails from Perth, but is now based in Melbourne.
It is very characteristic of our Catholic tradition that we honour the saints, look to their lives and witness for inspiration and example, and rely on their prayers in times of need and distress, Archbishop Costelloe highlighted.
“Each canonised saint brings something special to the Church. Their lives shed light on a particular dimension of the great mystery of Christ and remind us of some aspect of our faith which we might otherwise neglect,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“They become the source of the new spiritual energy in the Church, enabling us all to be more fully what we are called to be.
In the case of St John Bosco, Archbishop Costelloe emphasised, it was his realisation of the special role young people are called to play in the Church, and his recognition of their capacity for greatness, which represent his particular gift to the Church.
“Jesus often encounters young people in the gospel story. On one occasion, when he was surrounded by young people who were clamoring to be close to him, and the disciples were trying to shoo them away, he said to those disciples, “Let the children come to me. Do not try to stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to them and those who are like them.” Jesus welcomed the young. He was not afraid of their energy or boisterousness. He wanted them around him, and most of all he wanted them to know that he loved them.”