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Western Sydney Parish processes for feast days

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Parishioners of St Peter Chanel and St Joseph the Worker in Berala process through school grounds before a Mass to mark the feasts of their patron saints. Photo credit: George Al-Akiki

Parishioners at St Peter Chanel and St Joseph the Worker in Berala honoured their patron saints with Mass and a special feast day procession in the latest example of Sydney’s growing culture of popular piety. 

Incense and traditional Tongan hymns filled the air as around 200 parishioners processed a relic of St Peter Chanel on his 28 April feast day, while also honouring St Joseph the Worker (1 May). 

The procession through the grounds of St Peter Chanel Primary School was followed by Mass and a multicultural feast. 

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The day brought together the church’s vibrant and diverse multicultural community, reminding them of their shared journey of faith in what is the 70th anniversary year of St Peter Chanel’s canonisation. 

“Processions have this ability to anchor the faith more deeply by engaging the body. There’s a sense of admiration that comes from walking for your faith,” Fr Miechels told The Catholic Weekly. 

“Not only is something happening in your soul, but physically you are entering into something spiritual. 

Photo credit: George Al-Alkiki

“What is attractive about processing and what makes it so important is the social element. It’s very easy for faith to only be a personal thing, but the faith is built on community just as Christ built his church through the disciples. 

“The consumerist attitude of this world is concerned with the ‘me’ and how we can attain for ourselves, which takes away from the more important idea of giving of oneself.  

“Processions like this are a good antidote for that.” 

Fr Miechels said the music performed by the church’s Tongan community was fitting of the occasion and a beautiful reflection of their connection to St Peter Chanel, who performed much of his ministry through the Pacific Islands. 

Parish catechist coordinator Josie Pangilinan has felt at home in the parish since 1982. 

“My children and grandchildren went to this school and have gone to this church. All their sacraments were celebrated here. Recently I celebrated my golden wedding here. So, this place is a part of our life,” she said. 

“Processions like this are beautiful. It’s a part of how we can show we are still relevant in an ever-changing world. 

“We have to let people know that we are Christians and Catholics and that we belong. We need to let them know that we have saints like St Peter and St Joseph.” 

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