Giving thanks for the quiet workers this Christmas
With parishes busy in the lead-up to Christmas, many parishioners volunteer their time. But there are several who give of their time all year through.
So when you walk into your local church this Advent and Christmas, please notice the grounds, banners, flowers, readers, cleanliness, clothes, robes, musicians, administration, servers, and ministers.
These are just some of the jobs that you can see. But there are so many more that you cannot. These jobs are often done by the same people every year and take time, effort and expertise.
Pat Went has been doing this work for over 50 years in the Parish of Pambula.
“I was the first female to do a reading at mass. Women weren’t allowed up on the alter before that.”
Looking around now at the church volunteers, many women are leading the charge.
“I do this work to set an example, and it makes me feel at peace with myself,” said Pat.
Throughout the 50 years of Pat’s parish service, she has filled many roles, including reading and catechism, and for over 35 years, she was the Parish Council Secretary! But Pat is not alone. The list of volunteers and jobs in our parishes is long.
Jenny Horton, a dedicated parishioner at Eden’s Star of the Sea, has served the churches for over 20 years. Through the years, Jenny has cleaned, gardened, washed linens and priest robes and ironed.
“I also open the church doors every morning (except Tuesday) at 9 am. I like doing it. I like my church. Someone has to do it, and I get lots of pleasure out of it.”
A group of dedicated volunteers also run and maintain the much-loved Mary Mackillop Museum, located just above the church at Eden.
And it isn’t just the church buildings that need care. Some special ministers give Communion to those who cannot attend mass. Maureen Andrews of the Parish of Pambula has worked for the church for over 30 years and is a special minister who takes Communion to people in their homes and nursing homes.
“It feels good knowing I’m doing God’s work. I know how important this is for some people,” she said. “Some people I visit don’t see anyone else in their week. We chat, pray, and have Communion, and I try hard not to miss a week. I know they really need my visits.”
Every month Maureen and a group of volunteers run a Mass at the nursing home with readings, music and Communion.
Special people like Pat, Jenny and Maureen exist in every parish. So, this Christmas, please pray for all the volunteers who keep our churches beautiful and tend to God’s flock. They care for our buildings and parish communities with love and generosity. As the Bible says, ‘We are many parts, but we’re all one body … and the gifts we have we are given to share. You know who you are. We thank you!