For some people, hosting a barbecue for a few friends can be a major headache, so imagine the skills and checklists required when you are involved in organising nearly 200 events attended by tens of thousands of people each year.
That’s the reality for members of the Events and Special Projects Office – which includes manager Timothy Davey, music coordinator Astrid Sengkey, events coordinator Belinda Fusco and events assistant Alexa Vozzo – whose work involves planning and staging events and coordinating music throughout the Archdiocese.
From the more ‘routine’ get-togethers, such as the monthly clergy gatherings, to interfaith services including the Remembrance of the Shoah, to the massive Marian Procession, Events is involved in some capacity.
With so many details to consider and stakeholders involved, their work can be stressful at times. However, Belinda and Alexa agree being part of a team that is “flexible and understanding” means they can honestly say they love their jobs.
“On the day we’re making sure people enjoy the event and things run smoothly but it can be frantic in the lead up,” Belinda admitted.
“It’s all about preparation and being able to deal with a lot of different people in a lot of different locations.
“We have a lot of lists and communication is incredibly important in making sure we are pretty open and across everything.”
This year’s Marian Procession was the perfect example of the challenges that can face an event planner.
For the first time in its 70-year history, the event was moved to an indoor venue due to the forecast for inclement weather.
For Alexa, who prior to studying event management, was an arts performer, she fully understood that the “show had to go on”.
Chances are that if you are attending an event or special Mass in the Cathedral you will witness the talents of Timothy as the director of Music at the Cathedral and Astrid as the Cathedral cantor.
A noted composer of piano works and former music teacher, Timothy has been with Events for the past six years. He plays the keyboard or pipe organ in the Cathedral, while Astrid is an accomplished cantor.
Together they look after the Cathedral parish music program, conduct and train two choirs, many cantors and organise the roster for organists.
In April last year the Office for Worship – comprising manager Jenny O’Brien, liturgy educator Kathy Horan and administrator Alison Appleby – relocated back to Wakefield Street where it shares an office with Events.
The primary function of the OFW is to provide liturgical formation in the Archdiocese, including a regular column in The Southern Cross.
“We also respond to calls from the parishes to hold workshops for extraordinary ministers, readers of the Word, bereavement and baptism teams, people who take communion to the sick, music in the liturgy – anything liturgical they want to have some help with,” said Jenny, who earlier this year added a doctorate in Sacred Liturgy to her credentials.
Interfaith events, blessings of school buildings, the rededication of the Smyth Chapel, the upcoming official opening of the new Calvary Hospital are all examples where the OFW is called upon to prepare liturgies to be celebrated by either Bishop O’Kelly or Father Marshall.
A large proportion of Kathy’s work involves supporting parishes that have a group involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process.
In October, OFW hosted a successful conference for 30 members of the Catholic community responsible for RCIA, providing an opportunity for them to discuss the process.
“It’s critical for them to have that support,” Kathy said.
Both Jenny and Kathy are consultants for the National Liturgical Commission and Kathy is also the chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. This is an important vehicle for ensuring that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are properly implemented and for formulating liturgical policy.
Last year Alison joined the team and took on the task of promoting the services offered by OFW and giving it a “fresh look”. Since then she has designed a logo, created a website and is now working on a digital version of the liturgical calendar.
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