Our Parishes Road Map to Reopening
It seems that everyone is talking about the various road maps to reopening. Schools, businesses, sports clubs, and the entertainment industry are all planning for reopening after months of lockdown. Our Churches and our own local parishes are also planning for our full reopening. So here is our parish five-step plan for reopening.
Step 1 – Vaccination
The first step on the way to reopening our Churches is vaccination. Father Trac and I could not fulfil our commitments to our parishioners if we were not vaccinated. We need and want to be able to visit the sick and those in aged care. We want to be able to visit the increasing number of parishioners who are being cared for at home. We want to be able to be part of the life of our school communities. We want to be able to open our Churches to more mourners at funerals and more guests at weddings. In this sense, vaccination is not simply about my choice it is about our civic responsibility and our commitment to the common good. So vaccination is the first step in reopening our Churches. I want to assure all parishioners that our authorised parish staff will be fully vaccinated and ready to continue to work with you and support you as we reopen.
All our volunteer ministries that involve visits to aged care and hospitals now need to supply their vaccination status to each of those organisations. Thank you to the dozens of parishioners who have done this and shown selfless commitment to these ministries. In order to be parishes focused on outreach and services, I encourage each and every one of our parishioners to continue on the path to full vaccination. It is a gift to one another and to those who are most vulnerable in our community.
Step 2 – Sacraments
Over the last two years, we have had to postpone the celebration of First Eucharist and Confirmation on numerous occasions. We have a long list of families waiting to baptise their children and couples longing to celebrate their weddings. Our hope is that we can complete the celebrations of these Sacraments before the end of this year. We currently have around seventy families involved in a parish-based catechist program in preparation for Confirmation, as well as three class groups of Year 6 students from our schools. In the next week, we will be able to release the proposed dates for the celebration of these Sacraments. Likewise, we will be in contact with families who are waiting for baptisms. We are looking at possibilities for larger groups to come together for baptism in an outdoor setting as soon as the weather permits and the lockdown is over. We are also working with each engaged couple to ensure that we can assist them in rescheduling their wedding as soon as possible.
Step 3 – Sunday Mass
At the heart of every parish is the Sunday Eucharist. This has been the most difficult part of lockdown as we have not been able to gather and participate in the life of Eucharist for so long. We will continue to bring you our online Mass each Sunday, at least until the end of the year. We are hopeful that by the beginning of November the doors of our Churches will be open again. While numbers will be limited, we will do our best to provide as many services as we can to accommodate everyone. As we open up we will be calling on people to recommit to the various ministries that make up our Sunday worship. Thank you to the hundreds of people who are involved in these ministries.
Step 4 – Parish Groups
Many of our parish groups have been in abeyance over the last year and we hope that we can gradually reactivate parish groups and ministries that have not been able to operate. At the same time, so many of our groups have connected via Zoom or other online platforms. It may take a little longer yet for face-to-face meetings of all of our groups. Some will have to wait until the New Year for that.
Step 5 – Parish Renewal
During 2021 the Parish Councils from our three parishes have met many times to reflect on our parish partnerships and to plan for the future. The result of this planning is the Building Stronger Parish Partnerships for Mission initiative of our three parishes. You can explore more about this on our website. You can also join us on Sunday, 17 October at 10.30 am for a Celebration of the Liturgy of the Word and a presentation of the future plans for our partnered parishes. You can register here.
Fr Brendan Reed