Images and content used with permission from “The Record”.
By Jamie O’Brien
A spectacular ceremony marked the completion of the new chapel at Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in Morley on June 28.
The chapel was built by Angelo Bongiascia together with numerous volunteers.
Relics of two modern martyrs, St Peter Chanel and Blessed Pascual Torres, and one Pope – Saint Pius X – were sealed in the altar of the chapel during the ceremony.
The relics were placed in a corner of the altar by Archbishop Hickey and later cemented in place by the builder of the altar Carmello Gioffre.
Archbishop Barry Hickey presided over the dedication and opening with Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton and 40 priests who were present
for the occasion. Redemptoris Mater is the missionary seminary of the Archdiocese; seminarians follow the Neocatechumenal Way for their own faith formation.
The Neocatechumenal Way was founded in Spain in the 1960s by Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Fr Mario Pezzi.
In addition to parish duties, priests and seminarians of the Way work with communities in the parishes of St Mary’s Cathedral, Mirrabooka, Kelmscott, Rockingham, Whitfords and Mosman Park.
The relics of St Peter Chanel were a gift to the Rector, Fr Michael Moore SM, from the Superior General of the Marist Fathers, because Fr Moore is also a Marist Father and the relics of Blessed Pascual Torres were given to the seminary by one of the Spanish martyr’s sons. At the opening Fr Moore gave a brief description of the history of St Peter Chanel, Blessed Pascual Torres and Pope Saint Pius X. Blessed Pascual Torres, a Spanish Catholic man attended Mass daily and was the father of a large family.
After being placed under surveillance because he was Catholic during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the building construction supervisor was eventually abducted, taken outside the city where he lived and shot dead in 1936.
Some of his children, who are still alive today, were present at his beatification which took place on March 11, 2001.
One of the stories of his life later told by his mother and his wife was that he always encouraged people to love their enemies.
St Peter Chanel, the first martyr of Oceania, was born in 1803 in the diocese of Belley in France and ordained a priest in 1827. He served as a missionary on the island of Futuna in Oceania, and was known for his love for the poor and small children.
After his murder in 1841, not one of the people he had baptised were still alive, but three years later, the King of Futuna confessed to ordering the killing and embraced Christianity with his people.
Pope Saint Pius X reigned from 1903-1914, and was known for encouraging frequent reception of communion.
The completion of the Chapel is the third completion of a new building since the inauguration of the Seminary in 1994.
Fr Moore said the striking beauty of the Chapel and its various features help the seminarians and faithful who celebrate there to participate with zeal.
The clear glass door to the Chapel, has been etched by sandblasting with the scene of the Annunciation. Fr Moore said this is because people only come to the Church through hearing an announcement of Jesus Christ or through personal witness.
“The doors and also the windows are full-length glass so that the Church can see the suffering of the people of the world and bring to them the light of the love of Jesus Christ in the Church,” Fr Moore said.
The altar, in the centre of the Chapel is designed like a table, “because it is the table of the Eucharist, where we participate in the banquet of the body and blood of Jesus Christ:’ he said.
The lectern is also designed like a table where the word of God is proclaimed.
“This is the same word the angel proclaimed to Mary Magdalene that Christ is risen from the dead. This is reflected also in the icon at the back,” he said.
“The whole internal architecture of the Chapel,” said Fr Moore, “is based on the concept that Vatican II emphasised that the Church is the body of the risen Christ.”
The chair, Fr Moore continued, represents the head, while the lectern is symbolic of the mouth of the body of the risen Christ.
“The altar can be seen as a stomach where we receive the food – the Body and Blood of Christ – while the assembly forms the arms, legs and feet of the risen Christ that help to bring the good news to the world,”
“The walls are done in stone in the tradition of the early Church that the Domus Ecclesia – the house of the Church – was always built of stone. “As St Peter says, this reminds us that the real stones are the living stones,” he said.
As part of the opening, the Archbishop also blessed and consecrated a separate Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Seminary.
It also contains a relic of wood from the coffin of Blessed Mary MacKillop.
At the conclusion of the dedication, Fr Moore also read out the decree, thanking the benefactors and more than 70 builders, artists and workers who contributed their time and efforts voluntarily.
Seminary relies literally on the generosity of God.
Redemptoris Mater Seminary is the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary for the Archdiocese of Perth.
Seminarians from Redemptoris Mater belong to the Neocatechumenal Way which is an itinerary of faith formation.
At the inauguration of the seminary in August 1994 Archbishop Hickey said he decided to open Redemptoris Mater because he was convinced that we must take very seriously what the Holy Father calls the New Evangelisation.
Seminarians from Redemptoris Mater are ordained for the Archdiocese of Perth and are made available, at the discretion of the Archbishop, to serve in other dioceses if needed. So far, 20 seminarians from Redemptoris Mater, from more than 10 nations, have been ordained to the priesthood in Perth.
Two are currently working in Darwin, two in Broome and one in India, Sydney, Melbourne. One will shortly go to Finland.
There are currently 19 students at the Seminary, which has no guaranteed sources of income and lives on Divine Providence, trusting that God will provide for all the its needs.
In 1995, seminarians took up residence in the former hospital ‘Carmel’ in Morley, and in 1997 the Sanctuary of the Word was opened by the late Bishop Healy, followed by the residential block and bell tower in 1999.