Christmas spirit surfs high at the coast
The Christmas spirit surfed high for the coastal communities of the Archdiocese.
Despite COVID-19 and bushfires earlier in the year, Christmas services generally were well attended.
For St Bernard’s at Batemans Bay, four Christmas services were held and parish priest Fr Martins Aloga was pleased with the turnout considering the difficult year.
“People were not deterred from coming to Mass. We were still able to offer beautiful celebrations and at the same time observe the official COVID protocols and obligations,” he said.
Tourists make up a significant proportion of Mass-goers at this time of year and Fr Martins factored this into the parish’s Christmas preparations.
“We are aware that many tourists drive down to the south coast from Sydney and Canberra late on Christmas Day,” he said.
“We specifically repositioned our services to offer a 5pm Mass for those arriving in the area late on Christmas Day and most of those who attended that service were not locals.”
Further south at Narooma, parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea Fr Joseph Tran said due to the threat of COVID-19 numbers were down on previous years, but Christmas spirit ran high among parishioners.
“They are cheerful and very friendly and always make visitors feel very welcome,” he said.
Asked how life at the coast might influence parishioners, he said perceptions that some might leave their surf boards at the door and turn up in board shorts and rashies were wrong!
“Most parishioners dress beautifully. Not too casual,” he said.
At Tathra, east of Bega, the weather held, the choir sang and Fr Luke Verrell celebrated Mass outdoors on Christmas Eve on the grassy headland against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
Fr Luke said Mass attendance was down “only a tad” on previous years.
When the surf’s up, the Christmas spirit clearly rides tall for the faithful at the beach – whether they leave their boards at the door or not.