Pastoral director Sr Elizabeth Morris RSJ is due to retire at the end of the year after eight years in the role and some people had expressed concerns about the future plans for the parish.
However, Sr Liz said the visit by Archbishop Philip Wilson, Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall, Chancellor Heather Carey and Director of Ministry and Leadership Teresa Lynch on the weekend of August 12 and 13 had given parishioners the opportunity to discuss their needs.
“It definitely gave everyone in the parish a sense of hope for the future and that their needs will be looked after next year,” she said.
Some of the events during the weekend program included an open parish meeting, a Mass with the Filipino chaplain Fr Roger Manalo and a chance for the Filipino community to meet with the Archbishop, as well as meetings with representatives from the Catholic Women’s League, St Vincent de Paul Society, liturgy committees, pastoral care visitors and volunteers at community radio station 5TCB.
One of the highlights was the youth gathering on Saturday night which was attended by 15 young Catholics from the area. The evening was led by Peter Bierer from the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults in Adelaide and was an opportunity for youth to have their voice heard. The Archbishop engaged with the youth towards the end of the evening and spoke warmly to them. He responded to their questions and told them that he “saw hope in their eyes”.
Like many rural centres, Sr Liz said the parish – which includes the Bordertown, Keith and Kingston SE – faced several challenges.
“One of the challenges is fostering that sense of parish as they are three very different communities,” she explained.
“Another challenge is the ageing demographic, particularly in Kingston, and finding new members for the CWL and volunteers for the St Vincent de Paul outreach.
“There are the difficulties families face in staying connected to the parish, especially on Sundays, when there are the demands of work, even on their farming properties, sports and other activities.”
However, Sr Liz said one of the blessings in recent years had been the influx of Filipino families and the strong Filipino community that was now established.
“Bordertown has been blessed with young Filipino families coming on 457 visas. We’ve faced the inherent challenge of bringing cultural groups together and they have made a big difference to the parish.
“They’ve really injected new life into the community,” she said.
She said there were about 20 Filipino families actively involved in St Mary’s Church at Bordertown and couples were leading the children’s liturgy of the word and had formed a Couples for Christ group.
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