The parish community of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, are rejoicing after officially celebrating their 50th anniversary – two-and-a-half years later.
On Saturday 23 July, around 250 people gathered for a grand dinner-dance in celebration but also as a reunion of the tight-knit community of parishioners who are now friends.
“There was such rejoicing that we can gather again and celebrate our parish,” parish priest Fr Alejandro López OFM Conv told Catholic Outlook.
“Like a lot of parishes, it was a real strain for our parish to not be able to gather and celebrate for the last two-and-a-half years.
“Our Anniversary dinner-dance was a real relief and a release of our need to be present for one another.”
As well as being a parish celebration, the dinner-dance was another fundraising initiative for the community’s new church, which is on the cusp of completion.
Some parishioners ‘donated’ the cost of the ticket so that other members of the community could attend, others bid in a silent auction – with one prize being a home-cooked meal by Fr Alejandro himself – and others sponsored some of Fr Alejandro’s “wish list items” for the church such as a new crucifix and a reliquary case for the parish’s Saint Faustina relic.
“The beautiful things that we do as a parish is that we always try to offer tickets to anyone who wants to attend big parish events, regardless of whether they can afford to or not,” Fr Alejandro said.
“We want to make sure that everyone who wants to be there can be there. It’s really something beautiful because our folks readily come forward to sacrifice the cost of a ticket for someone else whom they don’t even know!
“I am proud and it really says a lot about our parish, and how we come together for events like this so that everyone can celebrate and no one is excluded.”
Fr Alejandro, who has been documenting the whole renovation project on the parish’s Facebook account, explained that the renovation project is close to completion.
He says there is a sense of excitement of the parishioners every time they come to celebrate Mass at the primary school hall, as they have been able to see the changes “literally rise from the ground”.
The internal worship space is almost finished, but recent challenges and delays mean the exterior won’t be completed for a few more weeks.
“The parish has been praying to Pope Francis’ patron, Our Lady, Un-doer of Knots, so hopefully Mary can undo this log jam,” he said.
The parish still requires help paying for joinery in the new sacristy and piety store, replacing a water retention tank, and a new altar, as the previous one fell apart during construction. Fr Alejandro is also set to participate in the City2Surf fun run to raise funds for the tiles in the church sanctuary space, aisle and sacristy.
Despite all the challenges the parish has faced, the community remains positive that all their hard work and prayers will not go unnoticed.
“We couldn’t do this without our church community acting as a community,” Fr Alejandro said.
“It’s only done because our parishioners and visitors are generous and see this as their faith home – a home in which they, and their children and grandchildren, will bring their prayers, their joys, their disappointments, sorrows and hope to God who loves us.
“I am blessed that they have opened their doors and hearts to me as their parish priest. They trust me with this renovation project.
“Too often in the past, the parish has suffered because of not having invested in what we have, but what we do now is an investment.
“My hope is that people will arrive at this renovated church and feel inspired.
“They will come to give thanks to God not just for the next year or so, but for many years to come.”
If you wish to sponsor Fr Alejandro as he competes in the City2Surf, you can donate to his fundraising page here.
If you wish to donate to the parish’s renovation project, you can contact the parish office on (02) 9629 2595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.