God is asking us to see the new church building of St John Paul II Banksia Grove as a powerful symbol of all that he is calling us to be, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has said.
Celebrating the dedication and opening of the new Church at Banksia Grove, Thursday 26 January, Archbishop Costelloe was joined by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely VG, Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong and assisted by Deacon Nicholas Diedler.
Also joining Archbishop Costelloe for the occasion was Geraldton Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini and Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Nguyen from the Diocese of Thanh Hóa, Vietnam.
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe speaks during his homily for the dedication and opening of St John Paul II Church Banksia Grove, Thursday 26 January. Photo: Jamie O’Brien
Some 1000 people from across Banksia Grove and the surrounding suburbs came together for the occasion, which commenced with a lion dance and flag bearers to demonstrate the multicultural element of the parish.
Gathered at the outside entrance of the Church, which includes a life-size statue of St John Paul II, Archbishop Costelloe blessed the relics of three saints – St John Paul II, St Mary MacKillop and St Agnes Le Thi Thanh, the only female Vietnamese martyr – which were carried into the new Church with the procession by three families of the parish.
The relics were later fixed into the front of the altar by Archbishop Costelloe.
A parishioner gives the acknowledgement to country during the dedication and opening Mass of the St John Paul II Church, Banksia Grove, Thursday 26 January. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
The congregation was then led to the front of the Church to the sound of bagpipes where Archbishop Costelloe was presented with the keys and plans of the new Church building by Ross and Grant DWA Architects and Metrocon Builders.
Archbishop Costelloe cut the ribbon with the assistance of Fr Vinh Dong and also unveiled the stone plaque at the entrance.
Speaking in his homily, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the words from scripture, ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church,’.
“The Church, of which we are all a part, looks back to that first group of disciples whom Jesus gathered around him, with Peter as their leader,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“It is the Church to which Jesus gave the gift of his Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
“It is the Church which, from those early beginnings, set out on a journey which has lasted for over two thousand years. And it is the Church which gathers, here in this place, on this day, as we come together and come, rejoicing, into the house of God,” he said.
“It is when we gather as a community of disciples to celebrate the Eucharist together that we both experience and demonstrate who we really are, said Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB at the dedication and opening of the new St John Paul II Church, Banksia Grove, Thursday 26 January 2023. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying it is no accident that the centre of our Catholic faith is a celebration in which a community of disciples is called.
“To turn our gaze to the Lord Jesus, to listen carefully to his Word, and to receive him, not just symbolically but rather sacramentally, that is to say really, into our lives,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“It is when we gather as a community of disciples to celebrate the Eucharist together that we both experience and demonstrate who we really are: not isolated individuals finding our way to God on our own, but brothers and sisters who have, in God’s mercy, been given the gift of faith,” he said.
Speaking at the end of the Mass, Building Committee Chair Tony Jensch explained that planning of building the new Church commenced in 2015, shortly after Fr Vinh had been installed as Parish Priest.
Courage, said Mr Jensch, is the word that comes to mind for all those responsible in making decisions on undertaking our church’s construction during the time of COVID-19.
Chair of the Building Committee Tony Jensch speaks at the conclusion of Mass for the Dedication and opening of the new St John Paul II Church, Banksia Grove. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
“As we continue to work on our church here in Banksia Grove, knowing God’s grace has entered and guided us at every turn, especially evident in those times of uncertainty,” Mr Jensch said.
“We are fortunate for the hard work of all who have participated in any way during the past 8 years to make this celebration today possible,” he said.
Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong said that in taking up the challenge of building the new Church and parish community, he was blessed with the support of many priests, as well as people from different faiths.
“Churches are buildings that ought to reflect and inspire the Christian faith,” Fr Vinh said.
“This church design is a blend of modern architecture and traditional characteristics that one may find in more ancient churches,” he explained.
At the end of Mass, several items were also shown to the congregation that would be placed into a time capsule located in the sacristy to be opened in 70 years’ time.
These items included stories from parishioners, ashes from the first Ash Wednesday Mass celebrated by the parish, two bottles of whiskey, a coins, a replica of a wooden boat that Fr Vinh arrived in Australia, commemorative medals from World War I and II, as well as photos from the opening and dedication which were provided by the Archdiocesan Communications Office.