Whole School Mass – Mary, Help of Christians

On Wednesday 24 May, the Salesian College community gathered to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady Mary, Help of Christians.

This particular feast day has been celebrated in Australia since 1844, but the history of this day dates back to the start of the 1800′s, at a time when Napoleon Bonaparte had gaoled Pius V and later, Pope Pius VII.

Pope Pius VII vowed to God that if he were restored to the Roman See, he would introduce a special feast in honour of Mary. The military eventually forced Bonaparte to release the Pope and on 24 May, 1814 Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later the Pope decreed that the Feast of Our Lady Mary Help of Christians be kept on 24 May.

In the early days of the church in Australia, Mass was not allowed, and it was largely the Rosary in those days that kept the faith alive. The Australian Catholic community remained faithful to Mary and Australia was the first nation to choose her under the title, ‘Mary Help of Christians’ as principle Patroness.

Mary was John Bosco’s guide and teacher, given to him in a dream-vision as a young boy. In his old age, Don Bosco declared that everything he managed to do in his life, was done with Mary’s help. Hence, Mary is a significant person to the Salesian Family and the work we carry out as Salesians today.

Our whole school Mass celebrating Mary, Help of Christians was truly a community event – from Fr Bertagnolli, to our six altar servers, student readers, Eucharist ministers, singers and musicians and Mrs Roberts who co-ordinated the celebration. Having a 1000 strong community together rejoicing in prayer is truly unique and special! For our Catholic community the celebration of the Eucharist reaffirms our belief that the body and blood of Christ continues to be our spiritual nourishment to be ‘good Christians and honest citizens’ (Don Bosco). Combining the celebration of the Eucharist with the Feast Day of Mary, Help of Christians in our Salesain school is, and will continue to be, a special occasion.

Mrs Nadia Knight
Assistant Principal – Faith and Mission