By Elizabeth McFarlane
Being a Parish Secretary is a lot like being the knife and fork of a community, according to Malia Lolesio, Parish Secretary for Holy Family Parish in Mount Druitt.
“The food is fulfilment and the Parish Secretary helps you receive it,” she said.
Malia was appointed Parish Secretary in February of 2013, but being a parish secretary isn’t just work to her.
“It’s using my gifts to give back for the work of God. I was looking for something where I could serve Him best and to me this was it,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean Malia doesn’t find the role challenging at times.
“I thought working for a Church would be easy but it is probably the most challenging. It really challenges me personally, as I am the first person that everybody encounters when they come into the parish. I have to be the face of Christ. I have failed many times but working for the parish is a great test for being truly Christian,” she said.
The Mount Druitt community is Malia’s community, having been a part of the parish choir with her father who is Holy Family’s Music Director, and graduating from Loyola Senior High School.
“Mount Druitt is community centred and that is because of its humility. You have people from all walks of life here. You see the struggles and you see people’s achievements, and that helps you to see the world in just one suburb.
“But it can be challenging working here because there are so many people in need, and (sometimes) you can’t help them or offer them what they want. But I always try to look through their lens to understand them. I need to try and find ways to help them,” she said.
But the benefits far outweigh the challenges for Malia.
“I would recommend being a parish secretary. I have learnt so much working in the parish and I think it has helped me grow. But expect the unexpected always. People just come in at random times needing things done and you just need to drop everything and help them first. What I’m actually supposed to do starts from 4pm onwards,” Malia joked.
Being a parish secretary has provided Malia with many opportunities and experiences. She was sponsored by the parish to attend WYD in Spain in 2011 with the mission to learn how to engage youth in the parish. She has since started a youth choir, which has now grown to become a youth group, meeting to not just practise songs but to learn about the faith. They ran their first youth retreat this year.
“I think being a reasonably young parish secretary has allowed me to get young people to realise that they are a part of the parish. They don’t have to wait until they’re 60 to get involved; they can start now,” she said.