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120 years for St Francis, Belmont

Present and former parishioners of St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Belmont gathered on May 25 to celebrate the church’s 120th anniversary and a successful Belmont Heritage Benefit fundraiser.

Parish priest Fr Thomas Lawson OP said they had gathered to celebrate an important and sacred moment, the opening and blessing of the church 120 years ago. It took place on a Trinity Sunday.

In his homily at the Pastoral Centre, he told the gathering to have a future, one must have a past. He alluded to the congregation’s return to the church which is currently being restored. “Our future is to go back where our roots were 120 years ago and the formation, the moral formation, the spiritual formation and social formation”.

In the First Reading (Acts 17:15, 22–18:1), Paul is in Athens and notices an altar dedicated to an unknown God, suggesting the Athenians had a “sense of something greater”. Fr Lawson said, “Paul proclaimed to them the God they were worshipping as unknown.”

He went on, “there is always something greater, sisters and brothers, and it is finding the presence of God in our our own personal lives…in our worshipping community…within the worshipping community here in St Francis of Assisi Belmont”.

In the Gospel (John 16:12–15), Jesus was preparing His disciples for His Ascension. Fr Lawson said the Holy Spirit will lead and show the way, not to what is wanted but guide toward all that is required for the restoration. He told the congregation, “Whatever gifts that we have, we give back for the good of our future generations to come”.

He said the restoration was happening during their “watch” so they are responsible for ensuring the church will be restored.

Chairman of the Gala Belmont Heritage Benefit, José Nivet gave an address after the Mass, thanking the many persons who made the benefit on Palm Sunday April 10 successful.

The event through sponsors, donors, and ticket sales raised $630,000, which Nivet said was about ten per cent of the sum needed. Phase One of the restoration is ending and the scope of work for phase two is being prepared. “Hopefully, we can transition from phase one into phase two without stopping,” Nivet said.

He announced other fundraising ideas: the benefit show will be packaged to be streamed at a cost to the global diaspora and an art auction will be held. A piece depicting St Francis by Donald ‘Jackie’ Hinkson will be sold at an auction with other artwork. The artist has given permission for prints of the image to be done. —LPG