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Sydney workers celebrate feast of Saint Barbara

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Saint Barbara PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Workers on Sydney’s M4-M5 Link Tunnels gathered to celebrate the feast day of Saint Barbara, patron of tunnellers and engineers on Wednesday 4 December. Peter Haendl, M4-M5 Link Tunnels project manager at St Peters spoke of the importance of the observance for the workers

Peter Haendl, project manager of the M4-M5 tunnel, comes from from Munich, Bavaria in Germany where patronage to Saint Barbara is tradition in the alpine region. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“It is an important day for us tunnellers.”

“It makes us think of what we are, what we have achieved, and commemorates those who are no longer with us.”

Bishop Terry Brady blessing the grounds of the tunnel PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The patronage of Saint Barbara in tunneling operations is an ancient tradition observed in many Christian countries. Such patronage includes the installation and blessing of a statue of Saint Barbara in the tunnel to intercede for the safety of the workers.

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A gathering of 150 workers from a multinational team stopped to reflect on the importance of St Barbara in their profession PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The Saint Barbara statue, a handcrafted piece from France, has travelled sites for 15 years and has been present in the M4-M5 Link Tunnels since February 2019.

A diverse team of around 150 workers from 15 different nationalities gathered 20 metres underground amongst rubble and machinery to stop and reflect on their work during the blessing of the worksite and Saint Barbara statue by Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady.

“I’d just like to thank Peter and all of you for inviting me here today,” said Bishop Brady. “We ask that God bless all those associated with the construction of this tunnel, bless all their friends and families and bless all those who will drive through the tunnel when it is completed.”

Bishop Terry Brady praying on behalf of all workers on the M4-M5 tunnel for their protection and wellbeing PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Mr Haendl on behalf of his team thanked Bishop Brady for the blessing. “Thank you Bishop Terry for joining us on this day and blessing our St Barbara statue – It means a lot for us here,” said Mr Haendl.

“With this blessing we hope to have a great start to our work in 2020.”

Bishop Brady with the M4-M5 Construction team in front of the Saint Barbara Grotto PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Afterwards, all joined together on surface level for an appropriate luncheon feast in celebration of the day.

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