The World Youth Day Cross and Icon made their grand entry into Perth on Tuesday night at Perth domestic airport, with Archbishop Barry Hickey calling on youth to take the opportunity to be inspired to “change the world”.
After members of the Aboriginal Kulbardi Boorndoon (meaning ‘tall, straight spears’) dance group helped students from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary unload the Cross and Icon from a truck at the airport and did a traditional dance to ward off evil spirits, Archbishop Hickey called on the youth of Western Australia to use the opportunity of greeting the Cross, entrusted to the world’s youth in 1984 by Pope Jon Paul II, that reminds them of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made.
He said that as a symbol of suffering and love, it also calls us to reach out in love to those who are suffering in our own society, and in doing so follow the call of Christ.
“The Cross reminds us of the call of Christ to follow Him,” the Archbishop said.
“If they follow Christ, then they will be able to change our society into one of peace and justice.”
He said that just as Mary was at the foot of the Cross, so too is the Icon of Mary, entrusted to the youth of the world in 2003, placed at the foot of the WYD Cross.
He added that the Icon of Mary holding the baby Jesus reminds us to pray for her special intercession to help the young people throughout WA embrace Christ and follow Him, so they may transform society.
The Archbishop received the Message Stick, a symbol of the indigenous Australians, that travels with the WYD Cross and Icon, from Nyungar elder Marie Taylor.
Perth WYD Cross and Icon project officer Matt Hodson told the welcoming party – that included Oblate of Mary Immaculate provincial Fr Harry Dyer from Camberwell, Victoria and a handful of Little Sisters of the Poor – that WA promises to be the most “adventurous” leg of the Cross and Icon.
It will be on the road for five weeks and will clock up 8151 kilometres as they “blaze a path throughout this vast State of ours”.
The Cross was officially handed over by Anita Garnham, a representative of Tasmania, where the Cross last visited and where Masses across the whole island were cancelled on May 11, Mothers’ Day, so that thousands could flock to the Silver Dome in Launceston.
Ms Garnham, now based in Perth as a teacher at Aranmore Catholic Primary School, said the WYD Cross and Icon caused a massive wave of support, including in the secular press, as the state’s Catholics flocked to embrace it.
The Cross’s journey started on Wednesday, May 21, with several events planned for Fremantle, with a heavy involvement with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which run St Patrick’s Basilica and the chaplaincy of the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle campus.
May 21 is also the feast day and anniversary of the death of the Oblates’ founder, St Eugene de Mazenod.