Holy Thursday Mass at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish at Kenthurst was a cause for celebration alongside reflection on the message that we are all built for service.
This week is the first time the parish community had been able to celebrate Holy Week services in their new church, only opened in November 2019. Last year, due to COVID restrictions services were held via livestream. Until this week, singing as a community had also been restricted.
The significance of being able to again celebrate the highlight of the Church’s year as a parish community was not lost on Fr Vincent (Vince) Savarimuthu nor his parishioners.
Related story: Bishop Vincent Long’s Easter Message for 2021.
Fr Vince felt how special this particular Holy Week, and especially the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday) was to the Church community. “These three days are the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. Referring to the difference between Holy Week 2020 when he had to celebrate via livestream without parishioners present, and the 2021 services, he said, “When you have all the people here, you are moved.”
During the Mass, which celebrates the Last Supper, Fr Vince washed the feet of parishioners, reenacting how Jesus also performed this act of humility and service for his disciples.
During his homily Fr Vince spoke about the symbolism of Holy Thursday.
“On this day, Jesus was in the midst of His suffering, but endured it,” he said, saying that Jesus’s example shows us how to continue to help others even when we may be suffering. He also explained how the washing of feet on Holy Thursday is a reminder for us to serve others. “When we humble ourselves and serve others, it picks us up,” he said.
Following the Mass, Fr Vince and the parishioners formed a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the Madeleine Centre within the church grounds where an Altar of Repose had been set up amidst foliage from local plants and an image of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here parishioners were invited to participate in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament overnight if they so wished.
Many parishioners stayed to join in the lively after-Mass supper of more than eight types of breads, some home-made by the parishioners. Some of the home-made bread was also on display on the altar during Mass, a ritual the parishioners do every year to acknowledge the significance of the Last Supper.
Assistant Principal of Marian College Kenthurst, Tammy Prestage, who as part of the school had attended, what she described as a magnificent Holy Week Liturgy at the College earlier in the day. “I wanted to be here as part of this wonderful community,” she said.
Parishioner Rosa, said “It was so lovely when the choir started and we could all sing with them,” admitting she may have shed a tear. Other parishioners revealed how hard it had been to see their beautiful new church closed over the past year. “It’s a good feeling to be back,” said catechists Silvana and Rosina.
To see the collection of photos from the Holy Thursday Mass and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish click on the link below.
Information on Easter Mass times in the Diocese of Parramatta can be found here.
Links to livestreaming of Easter services from St Patrick’s Cathedral can be found here.