Parish profile: Our Lady of the Nativity, Lawson

By Jordan Grantham, 13 June 2018
Our Lady of the Nativity, Lawson. Image: dunedoo/Flickr.

Our Lady of the Nativity Church, Lawson is one of the smallest and most beautifully set parishes in the Diocese of Parramatta.

It stretches the narrow ridge from Linden to Wentworth Falls and enjoys the stunning views of the surrounding valleys.

Lawson has a venerable history, named after William Lawson. Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were the first European explorers to successfully cross the Blue Mountains.

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“Most places in the Blue Mountains started as villages and they’re very conscious of their own identity,” Fr Paul Slyney, Parish Priest, said.

Lawson was the original Blue Mountain, a name that came to describe the whole region.

The parish also contains the Santa Maria Convent of the Good Samaritan Sisters.

It is a novitiate forming young women for the religious life.

Three women from Kiribati are in formation there, including Sr Tuata and Sr Juniko, whose temporary professions were celebrated at Our Lady of the Nativity by Fr Paul Slyney in 2015.

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The parish began as a fruit of a husband’s love and care for his wife.

Richard Meagher, first Labor Lord Mayor of Sydney, bought what is now the Presbytery for his ill wife to rest in peaceful Lawson.

In her passing, she gave it to the parish on the proviso a Church be built.

The letters giving the building to the parish can be found in the parish archives.

Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta will visit the parish to celebrate Mass on 11 November 2018 and the parish is in the process of starting a year of celebrations.

Paula Currie has spent 20 years in the parish, the last 11 as Parish Secretary.

Paula Currie. Image: Supplied.

“It’s an interesting part of the world out here,” she said.

“It’s a very unique parish, it’s the second smallest in terms of population. The community is close knit.”

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There are three Masses on the weekend, the Saturday Vigil at 5pm, the Sunday morning Mass at 8.30am and the Extraordinary Form (Latin Mass) with the Fraternity of St Peter at 5pm on Sunday.

Paula said there are distinct communities at each Mass.

“It just has a really nice feel about it.”

Twice-monthly morning teas after Mass help bring the parish together and about 70 people came to recent parish gathering.

The building of the original Church was a huge event for area, gathering hundreds for the blessing of the foundation stone and consecration after construction.

Antique photographs in the parish hall display the excitement of the occasion.

The original Church is now the parish school hall of Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School.

Fr Paul Slyney (centre) at the 2018 Chrism Mass. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Fr Paul regards the parish school very highly.

“We have outstanding educators in the Blue Mountains,” he said.

“There’s a real quality of education, reflected in the student body.”

One anecdote stands out to Fr Paul. After a school Mass a young student stood up and shouted “I believe in God!”

His exuberance struck Fr Paul. “The boy was challenged but he was expressing his experience of community and the name he chose was – God.”


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