The landscape changes quickly in this COVID world. While we might have been expecting to have some changes in parish life this week, with the easing of restrictions, instead we find ourselves facing a further number of weeks of Church closure. It looks, at this stage, as if our Churches will not be open, (apart from small groups for funerals and wedding), until 23 November. None the less my message to you remains the same, while our Churches are closed our parish is open! We will continue to find regular and creative ways to keep in touch. Here are some of the new and continuing initiatives that will be part of parish life for the next few months:
Online Newsletter: Thanks to those who have started to interact with our parish newsletter and leave messages and comments on the various items that we post each week. This is one way of keeping in touch and sharing our own news and views about parish life and life in general.
East Central Catholic Parishes Facebook Group: This is a moderated Facebook group and safe environment to connect parish community members, meet new people and share what is happening in your life. If you would like to join, please follow the links to the site.
Online Hospitality: With the success of the first parish ZOOM hospitality we have decided to gather for hospitality each week at different times and hosted by different members of our parish communities from Surrey Hills Wattle Park to Camberwell, Balwyn and Deepdene. Details of upcoming hospitality via ZOOM are available in this week’s newsletter.
Music Ministry: Some of our parish cantors and choir members have been at work preparing a hymn in honour of the Nativity of Mary. This is now posted on our YouTube Channel. Please visit and share this hymn with your friends. Contact the Parish Office if you would like to be involved in further virtual choir experiences. We are gearing up to make more of these for the advent and Christmas season.
Mass online and Spending Time with the Word: Each week we continue to record Mass for those at home. Our new initiative is to have our regular readers and leaders record the readings from home and send them in to be included in the Mass. Thanks to readers and leaders who have responded so generously. If you would like to be involved in our Masses in this way please let us know at the Parish Office.
Parish Survey: Our parish survey period is entering its last week. Thank you to the many people who have responded and who have offered to be a part of our focus groups. We will be in touch with you over the coming weeks to let you know how we will run these groups. In the meantime, you can assist us by passing on the survey to as many of your family and friends as possible. We need feedback from all sections of the Catholic community and beyond. Help us get over 500 respondents! We are over half way there already!
Communion to the Sick and Outreach Ministry: We continue to make contact with those in Aged Care facilities through the Virtual Communion to the Sick Ministry that is taking place at a number of the Aged Care facilities in our area. We will also continue to encourage each other to phone our neighbours and fellow parishioners to check in with them and see how they are going. Let’s see if we can each make two surprise phone calls this week!
Prayer of the Week: Thank you to so many of you who have responded to our Prayer of the Week. We have received much feedback and will continue to send out a prayer each Monday morning.
Prayer Wall: We have established a Virtual Prayer Wall where parishioners can add their prayer requests and agree to pray for one another. You are welcome to add your prayer intentions to this new Virtual Prayer Wall.
There are many other ways in which people are staying connected and parish groups are operating across our parishes so please let us know what your group is doing. Consider submitting a story for our parish news and keeping in contact with our parish communities.
Thank you to everyone for ensuring that our communities remain vital and vibrant at this time