Our warmest wishes and prayers to St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill, on their patron feast day. Check out this lovely parish profile written for the June edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.
Growing up as a child in Samoa, Emma Iliae would go with her mother and other women of her village to help clean and decorate their local church.
Now, as an adult, she does the same thing for St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill, her parish since 2014.
“In my heart, I knew I wanted to do what they do,” she told me. “And now, I work here, I do this and I love to come here, and when I work, I am with God and Jesus is looking down on us.”
Rosemarie Estigoy, the parish’s Special Religious Education coordinator and a member of the Legion of Mary group, explains that by volunteering for the parish, she is able to share her faith and the blessings the Lord has given her with others.
“I cannot just have my faith on my own, I have to share it, and others have to know the love of God – why just keep it to yourself?” she asks.
“If you are feeling blessed, you have to share it.”
Sacristan and Chief Acolyte Stan Pakulski adds, “God has done so much for me throughout my whole life, this is my way of giving back, albeit in a small way, for everything He has done.”
Meeting with the parishioners, they describe the parish as being welcoming, vibrant and caring.
“We have so many different nationalities here – everyone gets along so very well,” Stan said.
Assistant Priest Fr Galbert Albino, who has been at the parish for four years, describes his joy at seeing parishioners from all nationalities working together on projects for the church. “People are very keen to help,” he said. In particular, he describes how parishioners will go and collect older parishioners to bring them to Mass. “It’s a way we can directly express our love for God,” he says. “They [the parishioners] own that.”
Parish priests inspire others to care
The parishioners say they are ‘very blessed’ to have such ‘beautiful’ priests in Fr Alan Layt and Fr Galbert.
“Our priests are so fatherly, very supportive and they help us grow in our faith with their beautiful and powerful homilies,” parishioner of 34 years Nina Chavez described.
Youth team member Maelody Gevero is grateful that both priests are supportive of the youth, and their initiatives to look after the spiritual needs of the parish. “They really care about our souls, and that makes us want to take the initiative to care for everyone else’s souls,” she said. “They are witnesses, so you want to be a witness just as much.”
Rosemarie added, “Fr Alan is always open and he doesn’t say no. He would like us all to be saints, and he’s really guiding us to be holy.”
Holy Spirit providing fruitful gifts to the parish
The parishioners feel that it is through their witness, and that of their priests, that the Holy Spirit is at work in their parish.
“We’ve had many new parishioners, people who have moved to the area and are finding the church and are being welcomed to the community,” Rosemarie said, adding that she often carries an extra bulletin in her bag in case someone from Church recognises her.
Working towards an ever wider ‘we’
In his 2021 message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said, “We are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single ‘we’, encompassing all of humanity.”
The parishioners agreed with the Holy Father, as many of them have migrant backgrounds.
Emma said, “I think it’s very important in every parish to work together as a community because we are One Body, One Spirit, we are the children of God, we must work together, treating everybody the same.”
Stan added, “it doesn’t really matter where we come from, we’re all here for the same reason because God put us here.”
Nina said, “We are a multicultural community, and we welcome people from all walks of life. We try to become one big, good family because of the Christian teachings from the homilies of our two beautiful priests, who hope that we are holy Christian people practising not only by words but in deeds as well, and to be an example for others.”.
This article was originally published in the 2022 Ordinary Time | Winter 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes, schools and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now or you can read the digital version here.