The joy of coming together as a community to celebrate Palm Sunday in the sunshine could be felt throughout the Diocese of Parramatta yesterday.
With COVID restrictions easing this weekend, parishes were free to again hold Palm Sunday processions after a year of having to cancel Holy Week events entirely in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This unique situation gave special significance to yesterday’s Masses.
Fr Gregory Jacobs SJ, Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish in Emerton felt the experience of coming back ‘as Church’ profoundly. The Holy Family parish is one of the most culturally diverse Catholic communities within the Diocese of Parramatta, and has a large number of Aboriginal parishioners as well as many from Tonga, Samoa and the Philippines.
He explained his appreciation of being able to again hold the Parish’s Palm Sunday procession.
“Last year was our first experience of not being able to come together as Church,” he said. “It was such an odd experience at the height of the Church’s year.”
“Being able to hold this Mass this year is such a blessing. Community is so important, and particularly so, to people from the Islander community.”
Fr Gregory blessed the parishioners’ palms and olive branches outside the church in the morning sunshine before leading a procession into the church.
In his homily, he reminded us that being with Jesus includes not just celebratory times, but also difficult times, symbolised at no other time than during Holy Week.
He pointed out the significance of the description of the ripped veil in the Palm Sunday readings. The curtains in the Jewish temples of Jesus’ times represented a barrier between ‘ordinary people’ from God, requiring a priest to bridge the gap.
“When the veil ripped in the temple, it showed there is nothing separating us from encountering God ourselves,” he said.
“Everyone of us can have a personal relationship with Jesus. His death gave us that direct access.”
Details of Holy Week Masses and events in the Diocese of Parramatta can be found here.
Photos of the Mass at Emerton can be found at the link below.