Font of innovation
Innovation has been the name of the game for parishes during the coronavirus restrictions but Penola parish has taken this to a new level by introducing a holy water dispenser to replace the traditional stoup.
Considered a risk to the spread of the virus, the stoup was prohibited under guidelines for churches introduced in March.
Penola parish priest Fr Michael Romeo said the idea for the holy water dispenser came from a visit to Italy some years ago when he noticed that a restaurant owner had created an automated holy water dispenser in response to the flu season.
“Basically it is a hand sanitiser dispenser I got from Sanitex and instead of hand sanitiser I filled it with holy water,” Fr Romeo said.
“I simply put a sign above and covered the unit with an appropriate cover with a cross on it so that it looked dignified.
“Since it was installed on July 23, the holy water dispenser has been “very well received by parishioners who are grateful to have access again to this important sacramental upon entering the church.
“After using it for the first time, a number of parishioners have just looked at me with a big smile as if to say ‘where did you get this from?’
“COVID-19 has made us reassess the way we do many things in the parish.”
Another example has placing collection boxes in the foyer and installing an electronic payment device.
“This has been a huge positive for people’s participation at Mass as it has helped with prayerful recollection at the Offertory rather than some sort of an interval at Mass,” Fr Romeo said.
Online donations to parish collections can also be made via the new direct giving mobile phone app developed by the Adelaide Archdiocese.
Penola parish has also reached out to Catholics in Melbourne who are unable to celebrate the Eucharist due to the Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions. It has joined the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy’s Partners in Prayer program.
This involves sponsoring Melbourne Archdiocese parish St Mary of the Assumption, Keilor Downs-Kealba, by praying the Holy Rosary before Sunday Mass at 8.40am and 10.10am and Eucharistic Adoration on Thursdays from 5pm to 6pm.
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