A treasured holy relic of St Francis Xavier, often called the greatest missionary after St Paul, will arrive at Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton at 11.30am Friday 23 November before making its way to St Francis Xavier Churches at Abermain and Belmont on Saturday 24 November.
The relic is the right forearm of St Francis Xavier and is travelling to the diocese as part of a national Pilgrimage of Grace.
Year of Grace Coordinator Louise Gannon rsj is inviting the entire community to come and venerate the relic. She says it's extremely rare for the relic to leave the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus where it is under the care of the Jesuits, the order co-founded by St Francis.
"Devotion to holy relics has a long tradition in the Catholic Church with the last relic to come to the diocese attracting thousands of visitors in 2002," Sr Louise said.
"This is a significant relic providing all Christian people with a unique opportunity to reflect on the story of St Francis who was a great missionary," Sr Louise said.
"Filled with a love of Christ and passion for the Gospel, he travelled extensively, reaching out to the poor, the imprisoned, the sick and the dying. His right forearm is the arm with which he baptised and blessed many thousands of people, and tended and held the sick and dying. His love and respect for people of different cultures continues to inspire us today," she said.
St Francis Xavier holds a special place in the story of the Catholic Church in Australia. For many years he was our co-patron with St Therese of the Child Jesus. "This is why so many churches and schools are named after him," Sr Louise said.
The pilgrimage is part of the Year of Grace, a time when the Australian Catholic Bishops are inviting the whole Church to join them in refocusing their lives on Jesus, both in prayer and in their daily lives.
Sr Louise said, "Relics remind us that Christ works through human beings; that it is through the choices and actions of our lives that the love and compassion of God is made present in our world. St. Francis Xavier is a wonderful example for us of what is possible when we focus our lives on Jesus."
View the full program for the pilgrimage of St Francis in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The pilgrimage will conclude back in Sydney with a special Mass at St Mary's Cathedral on 3 December, the Feast Day of St Francis Xavier.
Pilgrimage of Grace: Relic of St Francis Xavier arrives in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Date: Friday 23 November 2012
Time: 11.30am arrival at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton (view full program)
Where: Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton
Media opportunity: Bishop Bill will be available for interview and photos with the relic at 1pm, Friday 23 November 2012 at Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton. Please phone Communications Manager, Emma Blackford on 0432 090 764 to schedule an interview.