Students witness faith on Sydney campus

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Sydney University students stop to allow the Eucharistic procession to pass on 26 September. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Students at the University of Sydney stopped to witness the annual Catholic Society Eucharistic procession on 26 September.

The procession, led by university chaplain Fr Laurie Foote OP, included a full regalia of vestment, incense, chanting and prayer which sailed through the main thoroughfares of the campus during the height of student elections; a season buzzing with student activity.

A passing student commented on being touched by the sacramental presence of the event to The Catholic Weekly.

“I don’t know exactly what is going on here, but I understand this procession is an expression of the Catholic faith and it is beautiful to see,” he said.

Students of faith unite over the display of religious expression. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The procession also coincided with the passing of full-term abortion legislation in the NSW parliament, prompting Andrew Lemalu, team leader of the University’s Catholic society, to comment on the importance of the faith in the face of the current social climate.

“Despite all the atrocities happening in the world we are still present, praying, and standing for life and human dignity,” Mr Lemalu said. “We are here as Catholics at uni unashamed of our faith.’

Not all students were warm to the procession however.

“Sometimes people laugh and say unkind things but it’s humbling- Jesus went through worse.”

“Maybe this is because of a person’s negative perception of the Church but we use this as an opportunity to pray for all. If there is hate we must love.”

Alex Roberts, second-year student of languages and Catholic, emphasised the spiritual precedence of the procession. “This is my first procession. Sure it’s during student election but this is not about politics; it is an act of devotion and prayer for everyone here.”

Indeed, most passing students interviewed saw the University of Sydney Catholic Society as a positive presence on campus.

Fr Laurie Foote OP carries Our Lord through the Sydney University’s famous quadrangle as part of a campus-wide procession. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“The procession? I think it’s cool,” said a student campaigner in hijab to The Catholic Weekly. “It means freedom of religious expression at university- a freedom which I think is very important.

“As a Muslim, there are plenty of spaces where I feel safe expressing my faith – and there should be more for people of faith- including Catholics.”

After the procession Fr Foote thanked all gathered for going out helping spread the message of Jesus.

‘Thank you all for coming to give glory to God in a place where he often only gets a fraction.’ He said after Benediction in the Catholic Student Centre chapel.

“We are sure, however, that the university will receive many graces from this procession. We may not able to see it but God will bless all at this university.”

For more information on the University of Sydney Catholic Society visit their website.

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