Francesca, who will be 90 in September, was able to watch Mass broadcast on television from Italy but said she missed the contact with her fellow parishioners and receiving the Eucharist.
You can imagine her joy when Sr Jasmine Lawrence, a pastoral associate at Emmaus parish which includes the Kingswood church, knocked on her front door and presented her with a bottle of holy water which she could use to bless herself.
“I was very happy,” Francesca said. “I poured a little bit from the bottle on my hands to make the sign of the cross.”
The holy water and a small fridge magnet displaying an uplifting psalm were provided by Adelaide Cathedral parishioners Kingsley and Kanchana Forsyth and their son Daanyaal, a Year 11 student and a member of the Young Catholic Students group at Blackfriars Priory School.
Kingsley said the idea came to them after they prayed together and asked the Holy Spirit what they could do for the elderly who were alone and quarantined in their homes and missing Mass.
Kingsley used his own funds to source plastic water bottles and fridge magnets with the words ‘The Lord is near to all who call out to him’.
The water was blessed by Fr Selva Raj, the new parish priest of Clearview/Kilburn, who was Sr Jasmine’s parish priest in India.
Fr Selva arrived at Clearview/Kilburn parish just as Masses were suspended and decided taking the holy water to people in their homes would be a good way of getting to know his parishioners.
Kingsley said the response from both parish communities had been “overwhelmingly positive”.
“Many of the elderly recipients of the surprise gifts have broken down in tears of joy and gratitude at their front door, knowing that they haven’t been forgotten and aren’t alone in this,” he said.
“These elderly parishioners have given a lifetime of service to their parishes and we as a Catholic community owe them a great deal,” he said.
“This small act that my family, along with Fr Selva and Sr Jasmine, helped facilitate serves as a small token of gratitude for their wonderful and lasting contributions to the Catholic Church in Adelaide.
“They were, and in many ways still are, the backbone of our Catholic Church.”
Sr Jasmine said she had a lot of parishioners asking her about holy water at Easter when it is customary for it to be blessed and taken home. “It represented a loss of connection with their church,” she said.
“This is about sharing our Catholic faith which is not just something personal but has to be expressed outwardly in the community.”