Our Lady reigns victorious at new diocesan shrine

By Catherine Sheehan

The new Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Victories at Lutana was officially dedicated and blessed during a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Julian on Saturday 11 May.

“Today this church is dedicated as a shrine for the Archdiocese of Hobart,” Archbishop Julian said during his homily.

“A shrine, as distinct from a parish church, has a special identity and purpose. It is a designated holy place set aside as a special place of devotion.”

“A shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a place not only to honour the Blessed Virgin, but also where people come to seek her intercession for their personal and particular needs.”

L-R: Fr Suresh Sesusion, Archbishop Julian Porteous, and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

The church was full for the historic occasion and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore, and Fr Suresh Sesusion, Rector of the new shrine, concelebrated the Mass, along with several other priests including Vicar General, Fr Shammi Perera.

During the Mass, the Decree and Statutes for the shrine were read by Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies, Michael McKenna. The Archbishop blessed the altar and the entire church and congregation with holy water.

“The shrine at Lutana, using the church built in 1964 as the parish church for Lutana-Goodwood, is a place in which people can gather and pray, not only for our own needs but also for the needs of the Church as it faces many challenges today, particularly the challenge of being able to profess and proclaim the faith in our times,” the Archbishop said.

The statue of Our Lady of Victories at the Diocesan Shrine in Lutana. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

In his address, Rector, Fr Suresh thanked all those involved in establishing the shrine including Archbishop Julian, Alex Sidhu, Vice Chancellor Michael McKenna, Archdiocesan Executive Director Chris Ryan, architect Sidney Rofe, Ben Wilson, Project Manager for St Joseph Affordable Homes Billy Gardner, and Heritage Officer Brian Andrews. He also thanked painter Tom Chodasewicz, and Anna Greener, a member of the Latin Mass community, who created the artwork decorating the altar and the vestments worn by the Archbishop.

Fr Suresh said the purpose of the shrine was to “promote devotion to Mary” and to “invite the faithful to come and spend some time” with her.

“When we honour Mary, when we show devotion to her, it doesn’t stop with her,” Fr Suresh said. “She takes us to Jesus. As St Louis de Montfort said, we go to Jesus through Mary.”

Archbishop Julian at the Mass of Dedication of the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Lutana. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

Fr Suresh said the new shrine would be used for devotions to Our Lady, on Saturdays to begin with, and also to celebrate other feast days.

Our Lady of Victories church situated in Ashbolt Crescent, Lutana, was built in 1964 and ceased to operate as a church in 2006.

Over the past ten months extensive works have been carried out on the building by St Joseph Affordable Homes, to refurbish the church and establish it as a shrine dedicated to Our Lady.

Our Lady of Victories Shrine in Lutana. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

Inside the church a colour scheme of blue and gold, signifying Our Lady as Queen, has been implemented on the reredos behind the altar. This is complemented by the installation of new pews with blue kneelers, and blue carpet running down the central aisle. The roundel on the front of the altar was designed by renowned English architect Augustus Pugin, and includes the letters ‘M’ and ‘R’ for ‘Maria Regina’ (Queen Mary) and four crowns representing the queenship of Mary.

Two side chapels have also been installed, one for Our Lady and the other for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A locally made crucifix will also be hung on the wall behind the altar.

There is also a confessional at the back of the church, a small sacristy on each side of the sanctuary, and a meeting room underneath the church.

Fr Suresh Sesusion, Parish Priest at Claremont, is Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Lutana. Photo: Catherine Sheehan

Project Manager Billy Gardner said even though he had worked in the building industry for a while, he hadn’t worked on a project of this kind before.

“It was an interesting project and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Mr Gardner said. “It was very rewarding. It’s come up lovely now with all the finishing touches.”

Anna Greener who was responsible for the stencil work around the altar said she was “determined to make the place as beautiful as we could manage”.

“It’s something lasting but you do it for God and if other people benefit and take inspiration from it then that’s great too,” she said.

Archbishop Julian said shrines in honour of Our Lady were “testament not only to the devotion of the people” but they also “witness to the wonderful works of God, as in answer to the heartfelt prayers of people, healings and miracles occur”.

“May this shrine become not only a place of great devotion, but a place where we, here in Tasmania, witness the wonderful works of God,” he said.

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