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Ciborium from JPII donated to East Gosford shrine

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Cecilia Colreavy receives Communion from Pope John Paul II at the open-air Mass at Randwick Racecourse in 1986. Photo: Supplied
Mary Magdalene Colreavy, at left, receives Communion from Pope John Paul II at the open-air Mass at Randwick Racecourse in 1986. Photo: Supplied

The collection of memorabilia at the shrine of St John Paul II at East Gosford is growing thanks to a donation from a local family.

Gerard Colreavy travelled to the Hawaii island of Maui in January to visit his sister Jill and retrieve one of his family’s treasures—a ciborium used by St John Paul II to hold Communion hosts at the 1986 open-air Mass at Randwick Racecourse.

More than 200,000 people gathered for the evening Mass, including Mr Colreavy’s mother, Mary Magdalene.

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She was a long-time St Kevin’s Eastwood parishioner and with her friend Sr Agnes Mary helped to coordinate the logistics for the massive event and set up the altar.

“My mum received Communion from the pope and got to meet him backstage, which she said was the highlight of her life,” Mr Colreavy said.

When the much-loved family matriarch died in 2011, the papal ciborium was one of the items placed on her coffin during the funeral at St Kevin’s, along with her rosary beads and missal to symbolise her profound commitment to her faith.

“My sister who lived overseas took it back home with her,” Mr Colreavy explained.

“But after I attended St Patrick’s parish and the shrine of St John Paul II last December, naturally we wanted to donate it to Fr Greg Skulski for the shrine.”

The former pontiff, then aged 66, drew huge crowds over a week-long visit in late November 1986, covering a staggering 11,360km and attended 38 events including the celebration of the papal Mass.

He returned for another papal Mass for the 1995 beatification of Mary MacKillop.

He was canonised in 2014 and last year Broken Bay Bishop Anthony Randazzo blessed and opened the central coast shrine named after the saint on his 22 October feast day.

It is the country’s first and only shrine dedicated to the popular pope and features relics of his hair and his blood, collected when he was in residence as pope in the Vatican, a specially commissioned painting of the pontiff, statues, a pastoral centre, museum and chapel.

At the time parish priest Fr Skulski SDS told The Catholic Weekly that the many young people and families in the parish as well people across the diocese and country would benefit from the opportunity provided by the shrine to help them grow in their relationship with God.

“Many people know and love St Pope John Paul II even non-Catholics,” he said.

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