Monday, 17 September 2007

Townsville's Handover to Cairns, From Sugarcanes to Rainforests

Monday morning saw the diocese of Townsville bid a sad farewell to their time with the Cross, Icon of Our Lady and Message stick. We joined the students of Gilroy Santa Maria College, Bishop Michael Putney and the Youth Ministry team from the diocese in a final liturgy amongst the sugarcane fields in the school. Here the diocese of Cairns excitedly received these great symbols with Bishop James, Deacon Matt and his family taking the custody and promising to continue the great journey of hope.

Exams were order of the day for the Gilroy students, so were thank you for your participation in the liturgy when minds would have clearly been concerned with staying focussed. The entire school carried the Cross and Icon of Our Lady into the liturgy by passing them to each other in class groups along the main path.

Cardwell Jetty then became the first place within the Cairns diocese to have the Cross and Icon of our Lady placed on their ground. Interestingly, Bishop James suggested this could also have been the place of the first European ships in this very northern region. Cardwell State Primary School students from grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 witnessed the special occasion, along with representatives from St Mary’s, St Clares, Tully State High and local Tully and Cardwell parishioners. The Cross and Icon were then passed over the students and held tightly by the young people as they literally showed they had taken hold of the Cross and Icon of Our Lady for Cairns.

Tully State High then became the starting point for a pilgrimage through the historic town to finish at St Clares Primary School. Students from all the local Tully schools were represented, to then join with the younger St Clares students for a liturgy and opportunity to venerate, kiss and excitedly hug the Cross and Icon of Our Lady. It was here, that the Message Stick was first welcomed into the diocese and proudly displayed. Prior to beginning the walk, a small group of students kept trying to accumulate the number of times they could touch the Cross whilst holding it upright ready for proceedings to begin.

Locals from Our Lady of Fatima Church at El Arish then waited patiently outside in the heat for a brief moment of hope, prayer and unity. We all joined hands around the Cross and Icon of Our Lady and shared in the Lords Prayer and Hail Mary. It can feel disappointing when the Cross has a timetable to keep and we are unable to spend time really listening to the stories of a town. I reflected on this once we had left this tiny community, given they had barely had a chance to absorb the enormity of what specifically was present before them.

A garden of reconciliation and peace, at St John the Evangelist, gave the people the Silkwood an opportunity to pray for these very things in their time with these gifts from Pope JP11. Once again we were surrounded by tall Sugarcane. The landscape of today has varied from Gumtrees to lush green Rainforests. Deep green Banana plantations filled plains surrounding the Tully region, and as we walked out to the Cardwell Jetty students told us of frequent Dugong, Turtle and Crocodile sightings.

The day finished in Innisfail with a passionately spiritfull procession from Canecutters Square through the town. Please read what the locals have written about this event in the attached comment.

Jacs : )


Anonymous said...


Energy and excitement were buzzing with the arrival of the Cross in our small rural town in Far North Queensland. Innisfail is located along the Johnstone River and produces Sugar, paw paws, bananas, tea and other tropical fruits. Our deepwater port at Mourilyan Harbour caters for cargo and freight ships and aquaculture production producing prawns and barramundi.

We began our celebration, awaiting the arrival of the Cross and Icon with pre-celebrations in an area within the centre of our town, “Canecutter Court”. At 5.30 we had live music in the court with young people singing, including our own “Innisfail World Youth Day Song” composed by Janai Sugars and accompanied by Jessica Beavon, Annie Larsen and Ellen Scammello. Emma Basaglia organized a Red Balloon Release symbolizing the power and strength of the Holy Spirit in reaching out and spreading the good news.

At 6.00, the Cross and Icon arrived at the Canecutter Court, Jessica Beavon led the official Welcome with a brief history of the cross, that was followed by the handover of the Cross and Icon to our Youth, (The Red Team). A couple of months ago the Red Team – a group of young students began organising the Arrival of the cross and Icon. Wearing Red t-shirts to school, they raised awareness and their commitment to create a wonderful memory for Innisfail inspired us all. We were also privileged to have a MaMu elder and youth who received the Message Stick. Father Frank Gordon welcomed the congregation and we all processed through town to the Champagnat Centre with the Cross and Icon. Due to Cyclone Larry our Heritage Listed Church was still under construction. When we arrived at the Champagnat Centre we had a light supper and then began our Liturgy at 7.30.

A Liturgy booklet has been included and the cover was designed by Genevieve Sugars. The World Youth Day Logo depicts Innisfail, the heliconia symbolizes the tropical flora of our region and the flame of the Holy Spirit. The Liturgy readers included Bridget Todd, Sarah Stewart, Ashleigh Witt, Patrick Gough, Evan and Lachlan Withnall and Andrew Basaglia. The music was compiled and played by Jordan and Jamaal Sugars and Father Frank Gordon and Father Chris Ryan offered their welcoming prayers and blessings during the Liturgy. Congratulations to all! AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

The Red Team included: Emma Basaglia Jessica Beavon, Jani Sugars, Jacinda Sugars, Ellen Scammello, Ashliegh Witt, Sarah Stewart, Rebecca Driscoll Lo Monaco, Annie Larsen and Patrick Gough

Anonymous said...

A very moving ceremony! Beautiful music, a feeling of warmth and love, and the act of venerating the cross emphasized a shared spirit with Jesus and people from all over the world. Awesome!

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