Held in the main arena of the Adelaide Showgrounds under sunny autumn skies, the May 22 event also served to show support for the Ukrainian community.
The icon chosen to lead this year’s procession was Vyshhorodska – Mother of God and a Ukrainian hymn sung by the Ukrainian choir provided an emotional start to proceedings.
The statue of Our Lady was brought forward by students of Christian Brothers College, with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Mercedes colleges also represented on the day.
Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and Emeritus Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ joined the colourful procession, where banners from parishes and multicultural communities were proudly displayed and many participants wore the traditional dress of their home country.
Fr Paul Babie from the Ukrainian community delivered the homily, speaking about the importance of the Vyshhorodska icon and how the veil of the Mother of God became the symbol of protection, after Constantinople was saved from invasion in the 10th century. He said icons were the “doorway to the human heart”.
“The icon of the Protection of the Mother of God is perhaps the most prominent of any of the iconographic depictions of the Mother of God,” he said.
“Mary, extending her protection as represented by her veil held up by her outstretched hands, over her people, the people of God…in this we see the love of the Mother of God for her people, for all people, for us.
“Today we find our world riven by war, by division, by hatred, by anger. Everywhere we look, animosity threatens to overwhelm us. We stand in deep need, not of revenge, not of anger, not of hatred, but of love.”
Archdiocesan Events manager Belinda Fusco said after two years of disruptions due to the pandemic, it was wonderful to have the procession proceed without any restrictions.
“As the procession began and the combined voices of the faithful in attendance joined in praying to Our Lady, the emotions were hard to hold back,” she said.
“It’s been a difficult few years for events in general, so to see so many gathered without tight restrictions was a moment of total joy and gratefulness.”
First held in 1949, the procession holds the record as the longest continuously run religious festival in South Australia.Jump to next article