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Excitement in Forbes ahead of Relics Visit

Hundreds of Catholics from across the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese and wider NSW are expected to flood to St Laurence O’Toole Church in Forbes on Thursday to welcome the Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux and her parents.

A quarter of the way into their four-month pilgrimage around Australia, the Saints have already generated significant interest across New South Wales and Queensland.

With schools and parishes from the entire region planning to join the day's activities, Hugo Chis, Vice Chancellor of the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese, says the atmosphere in western NSW is buzzing ahead of the visit.

‘Everyone is getting involved; it’s been on all the radio stations, they’ve advertised on the local TV station, there are flyers at the shopping centre,’ said Mr Chis. ‘A lot of the people in the community grew up with St Thérèse on their holy cards as children, so this is quite special for them.’

Michael Deasy, Catholic Mission Diocesan Director in Wilcannia-Forbes, is thrilled with the response from the local community so far. ‘Forbes is set for a grand and memorable occasion for the entire diocese,’ he said.

'There are coaches coming in from distant parts of the diocese - Broken Hill, Bourke, Cobar.'

Mother and Baby at Relics

The relics of St Thérèse and her parents have drawn crowds (very) young and old across eastern Australia so far. (Photo: Catholic Leader/Emilie Ng)

Mr Chis says the itinerary will be jam-packed. ‘A student guard of honour will greet the relics, followed by a Welcome Mass celebrated by Bishop Columba and streamed to all of the Catholic schools.

‘The Bishop is also giving talks at Red Bend Catholic College and St Laurence’s. In the evening we are having solemn vespers and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by benediction and then veneration.’

The visit will carry extra significance given the severe conditions that have gripped the diocese recently. ‘One of the farmers has said that with nothing growing and no rain, this has brought a bit of joy and celebration away from all the depression of the drought,’ said Mr Chis.

What is it about relics that garners so much interest? Father Brian Lucas explains in this video.

From Forbes, St Thérèse and her parents will travel onto Parkes where they will receive a traditional welcome to country. ‘The Aboriginal Elders in Parkes say that because she and her parents are the ancestors of the church, they are therefore ancestors of the Aboriginal people,' said Mr Chis.

For more information on the Pilgrimage of St Thérèse and her parents, Ss Louis and Zélie Martin, including the itinerary and resources, please visit catholicmission.org.au/relics.

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