Easter Traditions: Holy Week – 28 March to 4 April 2021

By Sr Mary Louise Walsh ISSM, 27 March 2021
Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week 2021. While you may regularly attend some of the liturgies, 2021 could be the year you attend one you haven’t been to before. Here’s a list of the liturgical events across the week.

Related story: Bishop Vincent Long’s Easter message for 2021.

All parish Holy Week events can be found on our listing here. Just click on your local parish to see the times of  their Holy Week events. Check with your parish for any COVID safety plan requirements they may have before you attend, and note that some parishes require bookings in advance.

Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Palm Sunday – 28 March 2021

Related story: A Palm Sunday Procession like no other. 

On Palm Sunday, palms are blessed and our churches are often decorated with palms. This commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem when palms were laid down by the people as He entered the town, before His arrest on Holy Thursday.

Look out for:

Your parish may have a procession after the blessing of palms. You may also be able to take home a small palm.


St Patrick’s Cathedral will be livestreaming the 11am Palm Sunday service at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzjomYwr4dk

Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Related story: Tenebrae 2021 takes on special significance at St Patrick’s Cathedral

Tenebrae will be celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta on 29 March. This is a reflection liturgy with scripture, Psalm chanting and motets. It will also be livestreamed from St Patrick’s Cathedral this year.

Look out for:

During the liturgy, you will notice the progressive extinguishing of candles and darkening of the Cathedral. For a brief time towards the end of the service, we remain in darkness, only to be startled by a loud noise symbolising the earthquake at the death of Jesus. The single candle representing Christ is returned into the Cathedral and restored to its place.

Tenebrae will be livestreamed from St Patrick’s Cathedral at 7.30pm at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EirzjRPMpts


Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Chrism Mass

On 31 March 2021, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, and the priests of the Diocese of Parramatta will gather at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta to celebrate the Chrism Mass, expressing the unity of the priests, where they also renew their priestly promises. During the Chrism Mass, the oils used for sacramental rituals throughout the Diocese are blessed and consecrated.

Related story: Priests and parishes called to renewal at Chrism Mass

Look out for:

You’ll see your parish receive their oils which are individually presented at the end of the Mass to parish representatives.

The Chrism Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral is invitation only, but you can watch the livestream at 7.30pm at https://www.youtube.com/user/ParramattaDiocese


Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Holy Thursday – 1 April 2021

Related story: A joyous and moving Holy Thursday at Kenthurst.

The three days before Easter are known as the Paschal or Easter Triduum.

The Holy Thursday Mass which we also refer to as Mass of the Lord’s Supper, focuses on the institution of the Eucharist.

Look out for:

Readings and prayers help us reflect on the Last Supper. Following the homily, the priest may wash the feet of twelve people to symbolise how Christ led through service. Following Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will usually be taken from the tabernacle to another place for adoration and then reservation.

St Patrick’s Cathedral will livestream the 7.30pm service at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu9oKNmrHJs

Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Good Friday – 2 April 2021

Related story: A very good Good Friday.

Related story: Good Friday pilgrimage reminds young people they are not alone. 

On the morning of Good Friday, we pray the 14 Stations of the Cross, spiritually accompanying Jesus on his journey to Golgotha. At 3pm on Good Friday, the Celebration of the Passion of Christ takes place.

Look out for:

During the Stations of the Cross we typically move from station to station highlighting the journey. Following the 3pm Liturgy, the crosses around the church that were covered, are now uncovered.

St Patrick’s Cathedral will livestream the Passion of the Lord at 3pm at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuv5hbwO1gc


Holy Saturday – 3 April 2021

On Holy Saturday we await at the Lord’s tomb in prayer, reflecting on his death and awaiting his resurrection.

Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Easter Vigil

Related story: A welcome to the Catholic family on Easter Saturday.

The Easter Vigil takes place after sunset on Holy Saturday, and usually begins outside the church around a small fire. Here the Paschal candle is lit and everyone processes following the candle into the dark church. Baptismal candles for the next 12 months are lit from the flame of the Paschal candle.

Look out for:

What happens during the lighting of the Paschal candle, the darkened church at the beginning of the service and any baptisms that may occur. The Paschal candle will remain in the Sanctuary until Pentecost.

St Patrick’s Cathedral will livestream the Easter vigil at 7.30pm at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbfVddjt9j8

Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Easter Sunday – 4 April 2021

Related story: Easter celebrations like a miracle in the Diocese of Parramatta   

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the new life He gives us.

The next 50 days through to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy as ‘one great Sunday’ and are known as Easter Time or Easter Tide.

Look out for:

Easter is a time of joyous celebration – there may be additional decorations or flowers in the church.

St Patrick’s Cathedral will live stream the 11am Easter Sunday Mass at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge3XXNPF9MA

Sr Mary Louise Walsh ISSM is the Liturgy Educator in the Office for Worship in the Diocese of Parramatta.


This article was originally featured in the Lent and Easter/Autumn 2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.

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