At St Canice’s – in Celebration of the Feast of St Ignatius – 31st July 2022
Celebration, flags, colour, music and mingling at St Canice’s on the Feast Day of St Ignatius inspires a sense of ‘Festa’. Freshly cut banana trees on the columns and at the doorways of the church bring a sense of Railaco to our doorstep here in Elizabeth Bay.
Inside, the church is decorated with flowers; with shiny leaves of the banana tree, huge bunches of bright yellow sunflowers and the red of the Leucadendron remind us of the Timor-Leste flag, and of our sister parish of the Railaco Jesuit Mission.
This feast of Ignatius brings together so many members of our Ignatian family. We are pleased to welcome students from St Aloysius College and the leaders of Jesuit Mission and JRS, along with young adults from the Cardoner Project with Fr Ramesh Richards SJ and Fr Robin Konig SJ, and Doctoral candidate in residence, Dave Braithwaite SJ. Steve Sinn returns and chooses to sit in the pews with so many old friends.
Drama, intended to reach into the imaginations and hearts of our congregation, is added to the celebration through symbolic ritual and sacrament.
The congregation is rather non-plussed at sounds they think to be roosters crowing and birds chirping somewhere in the church. Yes, they heard correctly, with just another little touch of Timor brought to Elizabeth Bay, to mystify and excite.
Muffled sounds of a trumpet from the loft, and then organ and violin joining-in playing ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ from the Jesuit-inspired ‘The Mission’ is followed by long drawn-out notes of a didgeridoo breaking through an expectant air. Those haunting sounds from South America and of our ancient land pierce our inner consciousness. It’s transporting. And, we are all brought to silence.
Fanfare of organ, trumpet and violin introduce our Entrance Hymn, ‘Christ is Made our Sure Foundation’. It reminds us of the ‘sure foundation’ St Canice’s laid in establishing our sister parish relationship with the Railaco Jesuit Mission 18 years ago.
Most importantly, Fr Sacha Goldman SJ celebrates the Eucharist with a gentle dignity. That prayerful act – whether richly involved like today, or simple – is the centrepiece of all that we hold dear.
In his homily, Fr Sacha speaks about ‘priorities’ and about looking beyond our immediate circle of family and friends to others who might need our support! He likens this to what Ignatius and his companions did, to what all of us are called to do, particularly when we belong to a Jesuit parish!
As we listen to a recent visitor to Railaco, Dan Elias, we are emotionally connected to the Timorese people of our sister parish in Railaco. Dan challenges each of us not to be ok with just being fortunate and comfortable.
He says, “I plead with you to help our neighbours that need our ongoing support. With my own two eyes I have seen how the funds are being put into good use and with my heart I have felt what it means to the community. Every little bit goes a long way. Our neighbours are grateful for what they have! We are ungrateful for what we don’t have”!
Dan closes by recounting the biggest revelation to come out of his experience –
“When I arrived in Railaco, I wanted to cry for these people, by the time I left I wanted to cry for us back home”.
Later in the Mass, our cantor Pascal Herington, (recently returned home from singing with the German Opera), steps across to stand beside Claudine at the grand piano. He sings ‘Nella Fantasia’ to the tune of ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ the theme of today’s Mass from ‘The Mission’. Pascal‘s mother was only one of many with tears in her eyes.
So rich is this Feast of St Ignatius, we let our joy burst forth in celebration, thankful for the Jesuit charism that flows. After the Mass, we join in the ‘festa’ in the forecourt of the church – mingling enjoying each other’s company and enjoying a special morning tea.
After years of Covid restrictions, we thank so many people for filling the church once again, and for staying to embrace each other looking forward to a return to normality.