Parramatta monument an enduring tribute to St John Paul II

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Parramatta Catholics now have an enduring tribute to the founder of their diocese, after a statue of St John Paul II was unveiled at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, last weekend.

Fr Suresh Kumar, Winston Hills priest and former director of youth for Parramatta, snaps a selfie with the newly-unveiled monument of St John Paul II. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Fr Suresh Kumar, Winston Hills priest and former director of youth for Parramatta, snaps a selfie with the newly-unveiled monument of St John Paul II. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The beloved pontiff visited the diocese shortly after it was established in 1986.

The Archbishop of Sydney and former Bishop of Parramatta, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who commissioned the project in 2013, presided over the unveiling and blessing.

“St John Paul II was truly the saint of the youth. He founded World Youth Days that enabled millions of young people to experience the faith in a new and almost revolutionary way,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Fisher said St John Paul II founded the Parramatta diocese “to better serve the Catholic people of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, one of the youngest and fastest-growing areas of Australia”.

“It is my hope that this statue will inspire a new generation to get to know this great man, a towering religious and political strength in his time that saw tremendous growth in the Church around the world.”

Sculptor Linda Klarfeld, who also crafted the life-sized bronze statue of St Mary MacKillop at the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney, described the work as “lighthearted but reverential”.

“Pope John Paul II is my favourite pope because he was instrumental in helping to end communism in Eastern Europe.

“This meant that I was reunited with my grandparents when the Iron Curtain fell. I hadn’t seen them since I was four years old.”

Weighing in at more than a tonne, the monument features a statue of the sainted pontiff with young pilgrims.

“Hopefully it will inspire miracles,” Klarfeld said.