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Community in action at Mercy Grove


The Blackwood parish’s three-year goal to transform a disused area of Belair National Park into a place of worship became a reality recently when Archbishop Wilson led an outdoor Mass and blessing among the gumtrees.

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Parishioners were treated to a uniquely Australian experience of Mass when the site was officially declared ‘Mercy Grove’ on Sunday April 22, one year after the community dedicated the space to Pope Francis and his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ through the planting of 180 trees.

The concept for Mercy Grove grew in 2015 in preparation for the 2016 Year of Mercy and as a way to bring together the different communities which had naturally formed across the parish’s two churches and three Mass services.

Parish Pastoral Council chairperson Terry Tierney reflected on how the community came together to ensure the success of the project after an opportunity arose to develop the site.

“By chance, the old Eastern Gatehouse (at Belair National Park) had just been demolished and they were looking for a group of volunteers to replant the site with indigenous vegetation,” Mr Tierney said.

“In spring 2016, we were ready for planting and had four plants blessed by Archbishop Wilson.

“We were delayed several times by storms and unsuitable weather, but eventually we had a planting day when parishioners gathered on the site and planted over 100 small plants.

“For the next two summers we had volunteers taking it in turn to water and weed the site.

The survival rate of about 80 per cent (usually about 30 per cent) is testimony to the commitment of those volunteers.

“God smiled on us, gave us perfect weather and our parish responded by attending in large numbers and participating fully in the event.”

The Mass was followed by the planting of more seedlings in the national park.

Mr Tierney acknowledged the support of parish priest Father Michael Kyumu. The Upper Sturt Tennis Club was also thanked on the day for providing electricity for the event.


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