Holy Family Catholic Primary School and Aquinas Catholic College Menai students seized the opportunity to be in the presence of three saints when the relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents visited their parish as part of a four-month pilgrimage.
The relics, venerated at a mass at Holy Family parish on 3 February, gave Year 6 and Year 11 students from the schools an opportunity to reflect on the power of everyday gestures of kindness. Community members were also able to witness the relics during their five-hour stop at the church.
She showed that you can always help people, even if it is by doing the smallest thing.
Religious Education coordinator Renee Taylor said the opportunity to host the relics was a privilege, and that St Therese’s example was a lesson in perseverance.
“It was an opportunity, I think, to realise that everybody has their own battles and challenges on a daily basis and to reflect on how we can build our resilience in 2020,” she said.
“When students are facing a challenge or hardship, whether it be in Year 6 with friendships, or moving into high school, they can ask ‘what can we take from her life and apply to ours?’”
It was an opportunity to … reflect on how we can build our resilience in 2020.
Holy Family Year 6 students Ashley Makdessi and Cayde Herbert were among more than 100 of their peers who touched the relics and prayed before them. Before the liturgy, they had learnt about the life of the young Carmelite novice known as the ‘little flower’. Therese died at age 24 and was canonised as a saint in 1925 after a life of helping others, while never realising her wish to become a fully-fledged nun for family and political reasons.
“She helped people by doing little things like cleaning and cooking and travelling to help others,” Ashley said. “I felt really honoured to touch her relic.”
Cayde said he felt happy to be part of the visit, and that St Therese had been blessed with “a lovely heart and soul”.
“I felt really blessed to know we are one in hundreds of schools around Australia that got to touch something that belonged to a saint,” he said.
“St Therese had a big family and was the youngest of nine. She showed that you can always help people, even if it is by doing the smallest thing. Even if it is just giving them a smile every day.”