Hosanna in the highest!
Parishes across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have commemorated the start of the most solemn week in the Catholic Church’s calendar with Palm Sunday celebrations.
After a few weeks of rain, the sun was shining as St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills, celebrated Palm Sunday on Sunday 10 April at 9.30am with a procession around the church grounds followed by Mass.
Alongside palm branches, parishioners sported palm fronds folded in the shape of crosses, which were lovingly created and donated by the St Paul the Apostle Primary School’s Mini Vinnies group.
Parish priest Fr Raning Creta told parishioners that by participating in the procession, they are echoing the hymn of praise of those who welcomed Christ thousands of years ago.
Sense of vibrancy renewed at parish
With the majority of pandemic restrictions eased, the beginning of Holy Week meant that the parish welcomed members of the faithful back to Church whom they haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
Veronica, a parishioner of 23 years, told Catholic Outlook “It was our biggest attendance since COVID.”
Natalie, a parishioner of 25 years, added, “It’s so beautiful to see the church full. It makes it feel so relevant and so much more vibrant. On days like this, you’ve got all ages at Mass, and it makes it seem more real and relevant to me.”
Steve, parishioner and organ player, said, “it was great to see the crowds back and great to feel that sense of congregation and celebration on a great day like this in the lead up to Holy Week and Easter.”
“There’s good vibes back in the parish,” he said.
“Come to the celebration of Easter”
During his homily, Fr Raning highlighted the events of Holy Week that are to come, and warmly welcomed parishioners to take part in the celebrations. “I would like us to be guided as we enter this holiest week of the year,” he said.
“At the Masses next weekend, we celebrate in a most special way what we celebrate at each Mass – that Christ has died but that Christ is risen and lives among us.
“We celebrate our baptism into the Body of Christ so that when we experience our Good Fridays, it is Christ once again suffering through us. Christ does not suffer in vain, our suffering becomes part of the redemptive suffering of Christ and has eternal value.
“Because of Christ, death has lost its power over us. Our sins are forgiven. We belong to God.
“Come to the celebration. Come to the Feast,” he said.
“Easter is the pinnacle of our faith”
Steve explained that that the whole celebration is what is so special about Holy Week.
“The fact that you can become entrenched in Jesus’ life from Holy Thursday night all the way through to His Death and Resurrection, hits me the most,” he said.
“You see people coming into church on Good Friday dressed in black with tears in their eyes and you really get some sense of sorrow and why he died.
“While Good Friday is very special, it’s that whole celebration that you can get so engrossed and captivated by it.”
Natalie said that Easter is a time for her to reflect and reset every year.
“It’s an opportunity to think about why we are here and what we really believe about our faith, what lessons did we learn from Jesus, what is he challenging us to do.
“Easter is the pinnacle of our faith.”
With Palm Sunday marking the beginning of Holy Week, check out Holy Week liturgy and Mass times across the Diocese by visiting catholicoutlook.org/holyweek2022
View images from the Palm Sunday celebrations at St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills here or below.