Restoring What Was Broken

Restoring What Was Broken

Immaculate Conception

In the Conception of Mary Immaculate, Holy Mother Church rightly celebrates the commencement of a unique existence, that of the Mother of God who was preserved by God from the least stain of sin.

Our community, too, celebrates on this day a new commencement. After nearly four years of celebrating the Divine Office in a room of our house and using a borrowed church for Mass, as of today we have our very own little church which we have dedicated to the sublime mystery of the Immaculate Conception, as a sign of gratitude to our heavenly Mother for having made this day possible.

We give thanks also on this day for the second anniversary of our first monastic professions and we wish our three junior professed monks all the blessings of this day and renewed fervour in their monastic consecration to Our Lord under the guidance of our holy Father St Benedict.

This church may look new but it is not new. It has a rather unusual history. Built in the early 20th century in a mining town of northeastern Tasmania called Pioneer, it was transported a first time to St Leonard’s, near Launceston, in 1947, and was dedicated to the Holy Family. In more recent years it served the Ukrainian Catholic Community. For several years now it had been in disuse. Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, not wanting to part with any church property, and rightly so, suggested it could be used by our community. This was two and a half years ago. It took a while to get all the permits required, but finally last year for the vigil of Mary Immaculate it arrived here, in somewhat of a pitiable state. Thanks to our building surveyor, time and talent were not spared to bring it back up to standard, and today, one year later, it is an immense joy for us all to see this church come to life again.

Few churches move in their lifetime. Fewer still move twice. Perhaps it is a unique case, I do not know. But nothing happens by accident. We can certainly see in it all the providential hand of Mary Immaculate. Last year when we saw the pieces of the church arrive for her feast, it was clear that she wanted to claim this church for her very own. The fact that it is a church that has been dismantled twice is, I believe, also significant. What is it to be dismantled if it is not to be violated, to be tainted, to be exposed and humbled? That is the spiritual story of each one of us. We are all tainted, we are all humbled by the many sins that have ravaged our innocence, and that make us so unlike Mary. If Mary Immaculate wanted to be patroness of a twice dismantled church, it can only mean that, whatever may be the number of our sins, whatever brokenness there may be in our lives, however defiled we may be, She, the Immaculate, the undefiled, the all pure, the all holy, wants to receive us under maternal mantle. She wants to make us better than before.

No doubt those who saw this church in its former state, and especially those who saw it when it first arrived here last year, feel that it looks new. One who did not know beforehand could very well think that this is a brand new church. It looks like it and it feels like it. As much to say that when Our Lady sets about rebuilding a soul, she does things well; she leaves no stone unturned to reform the souls of those who are devoted to her; when she enters a soul, she brings an abundance of grace, a new life, and with new life, God alone knows what can happen.

This is also why the feast of the Immaculate Conception is such a significant one for us. When a new child is conceived, only God can tell what it will become, what it will do, how far-reaching will be its every action and word, what impact it might have on the world and on history. So is it in the life of a community. God alone knows the destiny of this small group that places itself under her protection and looks to her for guidance. If the resurrection of this little church is a sign that the faith is well and alive in Tasmania, even in spite of years with dearth of vocations and emptying of churches, it is also a sign that Mary Immaculate, whatever our past failings, has a plan for us, for each of us and for our community as a whole.

So let us turn to Mary Immaculate and let us formulate to her the desires of our hearts.

Heavenly Mother, Mother of God, Mother of Christ, Thou wert given to us by Jesus Himself to be our Mother also. As a Mother watches over her infant, so we ask Thee to watch over our small, young community. We ask Thee to bless each one of us and to keep us safe in the way of salvation and perfection. We pray that Thous wouldst increase our numbers and send us many true and holy vocations to the monastic life. We ask Thee to bless all those who will come here to Jerusalem, all those who will set foot into this church, all those who will come here on retreat, all who will follow our Masses and Offices thanks to the livestream. We ask Thee to open wide the treasury of grace of which Thou hast the guard, in favour of all those benefactors who have made possible both the purchase of this land and the arrival and restoration of this church, and we ask Thee to make for each of them a new heart, one that rises up from sin and its consequences and transforms into a saint. Finally, we intercede for all our families, friends and supporters, as well as those who have entrusted their prayer intentions to our community: may they all feel the warmth and love of Thy maternal embrace on this day and always.

Immaculate Mother, here in this place we wish to serve Thy Son, bringing Him honour and glory through our prayer and work. We wish to contribute to the salvation of souls, and we wish to be conspicuous for the reverence and love we show to Thee. Mother, behold thy sons, show that Thou art our Mother.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Our Lady of the Lourdes
Our Lady of the Lourdes