A brand new video is encouraging members of the faithful in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains to “come back to church” after the long winter of lockdown.
As the season of Advent begins, parishioners in the Diocese of Parramatta are being called to celebrate the beginning of the new liturgical year in person with their faith communities.
During the Greater Sydney lockdown that began in late June, public Masses were suspended and church doors were closed. As the rate of vaccinations in the state’s general population increased, churches were able to reopen for public worship and the celebration of Mass open to all.
In the video, Fr Robert Riedling, Dean and Administrator of St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta, explained that our communities were not prepared for the suddenness and severity of the lockdown, as well as the restrictions on public worship.
“The Eucharistic sacrifice is a source and summit of our Christian faith, and is a concrete sign for us of God’s loving presence,” Fr Robert said.
“As such, the experience of being unable to access the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, was a profoundly difficult one.
“We rejoice at the easing of restrictions and the opening of our churches again. Once again, we can encounter Our Lord in the very special way the sacraments provide for us, including the Eucharist,” he said.
During the lockdown, the practice of faith was able to continue in homes as several parishes across the Diocese utilised livestreaming by broadcasting daily and weekly Masses on Facebook and YouTube.
Bernadette, a member of the Diocese of Parramatta’s Mission Enhancement Team, was grateful for the introduction of livestreamed Masses, but said that she missed being able to gather with members of her faith community that have supported and prayed with her.
“As the lockdown continued, I really noticed the difference between livestreaming and the actual participation of going to Mass at church,” she said.
“I began to appreciate the many different ways people have supported me and my family in our faith journey, through their prayers and encouragement.
“I missed worshipping as a community and witnessing important sacramental celebrations. I’m really looking forward to being able to reconnect with my parish family once again.”
Young parishioner Timothy described that returning to Mass is the perfect way to celebrate the season of Advent and Christmas, where we are reminded of Christ coming to Earth to save us and how we are saved through the Eucharist.
“I remember being taught from a young age about the Eucharist being the real presence of Christ – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
“At every Mass, Father speaks those same words that Jesus spoke at The Last Supper – ‘take and eat, this is my body, this is my blood.’
“Going to Sunday Mass is the best way to prepare for Christmas. Every time we go to Mass, Jesus comes to us just as He did when He came into the world at that first Christmas.”
Parishes across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have opened their doors for private prayer, Reconciliation and for the celebration of Mass and sacraments such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. Please contact your local parish to check Mass and liturgy times and the COVID-Safe arrangements in place.
Stay tuned to Catholic Outlook as Christmas Mass and Reconciliation times become available.