Week Two: Archbishop’s Pastoral Parish visits
ST THOMAS MORE PARISH CAMPBELL
Morning teas were always an important feature of St Thomas More Parish. Parishioners congregating was a visible sign of a vibrant, caring and welcoming community of faith. Children’s liturgy and a new Youth Minister had just started and the Parish council had just re-formed. Then COVID happened.
There was a valiant effort to maintain a connection to God and Church traditions; Masses went online, meetings were held via Zoom, and Confessions were made in an innovative drive-by style.
It was harder to maintain a shared community connection to God. It was with a collective sigh of relief that Mass (and morning teas) resumed albeit in restricted numbers with social distancing, no singing, no shaking hands and a sense of unease about the omniscient threat of ‘germs’. For those with small, barely controllable, often snot-nosed children, attendance at Mass is currently almost impossible.
Some older parishioners choose to avoid crowds and follow Mass online. Even in this new reality, there is a sense of optimism and a newfound sense of appreciation for what was lost for a little while.
St Brigid’s Dickson
NORTH WODEN PARISH
Archbishop Christopher celebrated Mass and then gathered with parishioners in the Parish Centre for a chat and morning tea. During Mass Archbishop Christopher drew on the example of Padre Pio in stressing the need for prayerful quiet in the face of anxieties, including those related to the COVID pandemic.
Teachers from the two parish schools shared their experience of the pandemic’s impact on students, families and staff. Older parishioners shared their concern too. All agreed that the Church has responded well to the pandemic and they were appreciative of the Archbishop’s initiative in praying with and informally engaging with parishioners. Parish Priest Fr John Woods shared with Archbishop Christopher the recent reception into the Church of the Bucuane family from Mozambique. In the evening, the last of four celebrations of Confirmation was held, necessitated by the restriction of congregations to 100.
BLACKFRAIRS PARISH WATSON
The temporary closure of Holy Rosary Church due to COVID and the general uncertainty was worrying and disconcerting, especially early in the lockdown, but as restrictions eased confidence lifted.
Parishioners were happy to join others at Mass online at St Christopher’s, or other cathedrals and churches around the world.
Mass attendance at Holy Rosary Church has returned to about two-thirds of its pre-COVID-19 number.
Parishioners are glad to be back, although some have expressed sadness about not being able to sing. Those with health problems who are at increased risk have found it difficult not to physically rejoin the faith community.
Blackfriars Parish has continued its journey of parish renewal. Alpha, a way of evangelisation that started in the parish in February, moved to online video conferencing in March.
A number of parishioners said Alpha had strengthened their faith. New friends were made and there was a feeling of being more connected.
A second Alpha followed, this time wholly online, enabling guests from outside the parish (including one from interstate) to attend.
Weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has started in the parish since the church has reopened. Adoration has been celebrated to pray for Alpha participants and for the spiritual life of the parish.
The lockdown also provided the opportunity to think about how to keep and enhance parish connectedness. A number of connect groups were set up and will continue to be encouraged.