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St Francis of Assisi inspires Buddhists at Peace Park

stfrancis 450A statue of Saint Francis of Assisi has been placed in a Buddhist ‘Peace Park’ as an inspirational symbol of peace.
Bishop of Sandhurst Leslie Tomlinson blessed the statue of St Francis of Assisi in the grounds of a ‘Peace Park’ at the Buddhist Great Stupa of Universal Compassion at 2pm on Friday, May 11. 
Bishop Tomlinson was joined by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition and international Buddhist organisation, to unveil the two-metre-high statue of Saint Francis.
St Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher in the 12th and 13th centuries. He is associated with the patronage of animals and the natural environment.
He taught that nature itself was the mirror of God and called all creatures his ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, and even preached to the birds.
St Francis preached the Christian doctrine that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of human sin. He believed that all creatures should praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the people have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves.
“In offering this image of Saint Francis, we hope that the image will inspire those who encounter it with an admiration for the Saint who embodied in his life and work a humility, deep respect of others and a dedication to serving others,” Bishop Tomlinson said.
“We trust that his image will not only prompt admiration, but also inspire others to strive to live life similarly. In turn, we acknowledge that the source of inspiration and grace in Saint Francis originated from his saviour, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The Saint Francis statue is the first of many symbols of faith to be represented in the 2000-square-metre Peace Park. Other installations will include an Ik onkar from the Sikh Community of Victoria, a spectacular mosaic and meditation cave from the Islamic Council of Victoria, a large Hindu deity from the Hindu Community of Victoria and a statue from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The Great Stupa is also in conversation with the local Aboriginal community about a symbol of indigenous faith. It is hoped that in time several other faiths will also be represented in the Peace Park.

Photo: Fathers Rom Hayes and Andrew Fewings with students from St Francis of the Fields Primary School, Strathfieldsaye, and Bishop Les Tomlinson who presented the statue of St Francis of Assisi to the Buddhist monks.