Parish staff across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have been formally acknowledged by the Diocese of Parramatta for their dedicated and passionate ministry as the ‘frontline workers’ of the Church.
On 29 November 2023, close to 70 parish staff and volunteers were joined by Chancery staff for a day of reflection ahead of the Advent season at Mt Schoenstatt Retreat Centre, Mulgoa.
The importance and deep appreciation of parish staff in the mission of the Church was emphasised throughout the day through the joyful Christmas music, the much-needed catch ups, and big hugs all round – it was truly a Spirit-filled occasion.
In his opening remarks, Diocesan Chief of Operations and Finance Geoff Officer shared four words inspired by Pope Francis, matched with four stories of parish secretaries in his life who showed kindliness, dignity, mercy and forgiveness.
Fr Fernando Montano, newly appointed Vicar General of the Diocese and Parish Priest of St Bernadette’s, Castle Hill, led the day’s reflection in a special way with personal stories to affirm how parish staff, particularly parish secretaries, shaped his priestly ministry. He concluded with a very real reminder of the turmoil happening around the world and how Jesus was not born in the most peaceful of times. He came to give us peace, “My peace I give you”.
The highlight of the day was the Recognition Ceremony which awarded staff from five to 32 years of faithful service to their parishes. Judy Rigg was the longest-serving staff member who attended the day with 29 years of service to St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor. She was followed by Marie Cottee who was recognised for 27 years of service to Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook. Unfortunately, unable to attend the day, Elizabeth Idaszak was the most notable awardee for an outstanding 32 years in St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill. Congratulations to all award recipients!
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, celebrated Mass and in his homily, reflected on Scriptures during the Advent season. “They inspire us to walk the narrow path of faith and hope and sacrifice. We give thanks for another year of faithful and dedicated service to our respective communities. Once again, I wish to acknowledge the spirit of Christian service which you carry out in your many tasks. I thank you for being the bridges of unity, the frontline workers, the ambassadors of God’s love and the faces of the Church.”
The event concluded with a hearty, Christmas-themed luncheon with a surprise happy birthday song for Bishop Vincent and a Christmas hamper gift for all those attended.
Thanks to the Parish Support Team, Alfie Ramirez and Raimie Caramancion for organising this lovely event.
View images from the Parish Support Team Reflection and Recognition Day here or below:
Raimie Caramancion is a member of the Diocese’s Parish Support Team.