The diocesan visitation team comprising Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall, Chancellor Heather Carey and Archdiocesan Parish Renewal director Teresa Lynch spent a ‘long day’ on June 28 meeting with parishioners and engaging with various services provided through the parish.
They met with staff and students of St Brigid’s and St Gabriel’s parish schools, visited the Mercy House of Welcome, the Vinnies Women’s Shelter and two aged care facilities. At the conclusion of the week, the visitation team attended Mass on the weekend at St Brigid’s Church, enjoying the music provided by the Vietnamese Choir and a Youth Mass at Good Shepherd Church in Clearview. This was followed by a parish assembly which provided a much appreciated opportunity for parishioners to ask questions through an ‘open mic’ session.
During the visit to St Brigid’s School the team heard from students passionate about caring for the Earth through their work in the shared garden.
As education support officer Amanda Brook explained, by being involved with the garden the students are embracing the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
“It gives them social skills learning about connection and caring for the environment and people,” she said.
The older students spoke of how they help the younger children to be engaged in the garden. The younger students proudly named some of the vegetables grown and how the produce is put to good use in the school’s cooking program. The Mini Vinnies group also takes advantage of the home-grown vegetables to make soup which is donated to Fred’s Van.
Principal Trish O’Toole said the garden was just one way of bringing the school community together. With students coming from 22 different countries – including Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran Burma, Philippines, India, Cambodia, Italian, Vietnam, Afghanistan and several in Africa – the school is a melting pot of cultures and faiths.
“We have a really strong school community and the parish community has always been welcoming and generous,” she said.
Ms O’Toole said staff were very interested in learning about the many faiths represented at the school so they would have a greater understanding of the similarities and differences to Catholicism.
“We are teaching the Catholic faith and tradition but we always ask where there is a similar message in their faith and build a connection. We respect the different cultures and faiths here and that is the real message of harmony,” she said.
Across the road from the school is the Mercy House of Welcome where refugees and asylum seekers come to learn English, receive assistance with visa applications and receive support as they transition to life in Australia.
The visitation team met with volunteers at the centre and the Peace and Welcome Garden which was established three years ago by Australian Red Cross, together with the support of the parish, Mercy Works and St Brigid’s school communities.
As parish priest Fr Leon Czechowicz explained, although it is small the garden has played a “significant part” in bringing the communities of Clearview and Kilburn together since their amalgamation in 2004.
At St Gabriel’s School, the visitation team learned how students and parishioners are participating in a program to collect vegetables which are used to make soup for the Moore Street Centre.
Members of the school’s ‘Green Team’ also spoke of how they are raising awareness with fellow students about the harm plastic can cause when it ends up in waterways and impacts on creation, particularly sea life.
Each member of the visitation team was deeply moved during a time of prayer with the 300-strong staff and student cohort. They were introduced to the school’s daily practice of meditation, which sees each class group assembled in a circle in the gym, with a ‘sacred space’ inside the circle acting as a point of focus for their prayer word or mantra.
As principal Stuart Baker reflected, this is the most ‘graced’ moment of the day for him and is an important time for students.
Parish pastoral visitation dates for the remainder of the year have now been confirmed and include: Emmaus, August 19-26; Albert Park-Pennington, September 2-9; Lockleys, September 16-23; Northern Light, October 14-21; Edwardstown, October 28 – November 4; Elizabeth, November 11-18; Morphett Vale, November 25 – December 2.
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