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Parishes staying connected

Local

Churches might be closed but parish teams have been busier than ever trying to stay connected with their communities through a range of initiatives from live streaming Masses to phoning parishioners and dropping bulletins in their letter boxes.

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At least 22 parishes are using Facebook, YouTube and Zoom to enable parishioners to participate in Mass either daily or each Sunday, while some parishes are organising prayer groups via video conference.

Email and websites are being used to distribute parish bulletins and communicate other important information.

Other initiatives include online choir practice, ringing church bells at the same time as other churches and providing families of children in sacramental programs with family catechesis resources.

Fr Roderick O’Brien from LeFevre Catholic community said the sacramental program had been suspended but he was trying to keep in touch with children and their families by email.

He said one idea was to ask the children to draw a picture of their family and send it to him to put on the pews while he was celebrating Mass.

Fr Josy Sebastian at Noarlunga Seaford parish put a single palm for every family on the pews of St Luke’s Church on Palm Sunday and has left them there until the congregation returns to Mass.

“You will take those palms home when you return to the church,” he told parishioners via live streaming.

“I will preserve them for you. I am prepared to wait. I am eagerly waiting for that day.”

Similarly, when Mass was filmed at Aldinga on Anzac Day, the names of Mary of Galilee Community parishioners were placed on pews to demonstrate that “each family is valued and being prayed for”.

As with many parishes and communities, young people are helping with the filming of Mass at Noarlunga-Seaford.

At Blackwood parish, Deacon Tee Ping Koh and his wife Mary Ann came up with the idea of putting a decoration of Eucalyptus leaves on front doors, similar to the tradition of Christmas wreaths.

“Holy Week is such a big event in our lives, so I felt that we needed to do something to connect everyone up as the Church in a concrete way,” he explained.

“In my daily ring around to parishioners in Blackwood, I picked up the ‘emptiness’ and the desperation in wanting to do something.”

Many priests and deacons have been providing daily or weekly reflections online and Fr Peter Zwaans has developed a successful podcast series called Corona of Thorns.

Daily live streaming of Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral features a different priest each day and has been receiving hundreds of views during the week and reaching thousands of people from all over the world on Sundays.

Cathedral Administrator
Fr Anthoni Adimai said the live streaming by AV-Plus has been made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and Adelaide Cathedral parishioners.

Acting Chancellor Sarah Moffatt sent a thank-you message to parishes for all their efforts during the coronavirus restrictions. She also asked parishes to share ideas and provided additional resources for staying connected.

“We are so grateful to all our parish teams, our clergy and deacons who are being innovative and doing all they can to nourish the faith of their people during this difficult time,” she said.

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