Silence and song create depth of emotion in St Canice’s Celebration of the Passion 

By Christina Gretton, 16 April 2022
Parishioners venerate the Cross at St Canice's Katoomba 2022 Celebration of the Passion of the Christ. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


While the public holiday traffic buzzed outside, inside St Canice’s Church, Katoomba, parishioners sat in silence waiting for the Celebration of the Passion of the Christ to commence for Good Friday 2022. The service that followed was simple, yet encouraging of self-reflection and elicited mixed emotions of sadness and joy. 

After the reading of the Passion,  Parish Priest of the Upper Blue Mountains Parish, Fr John McSweeney reminded parishioners that the words of the scriptures remind us of the great gift of love that was given to humanity through the death of God’s Son. 

“These words challenge us to reflect on how well we live our lives in imitation of the Lord’s faithfulness until death,” he said. 

He commented on the emotion behind the Passion. 

“In the silence and the sadness we plug into many of the major emotions of the human person and we enter into the mystery of death which awaits each and every one of us,” he said. 

At the same time, he said, the scriptures encouraged reflection on self-giving. 

He encouraged parishioners to ask for God’s help in imitating Jesus’ faithfulness to God as they venerated the Cross. 

“Let us ask God to help us imitate that marvellous man who died so that we might live.” 

The simplicity of St Canice’s church was offset by spectacular music by the St Canice’s scholar choir, which has recently come under a new musical director Jareth Norman. Jareth, who had only been appointed a few weeks ago has trained in opera for 20 years, beginning at age eight. Getting the music prepared for Holy Week has been a challenge which he has pulled off thanks to previous experience in a Sydney parish, a repertoire of around 50 hymns, as well as lots of guidance from Fr John. Music played included Schutte’s Behold the Word, Berthier’s Bless the Lord, and Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. 

A parishioner at St Canice’s since 2019, he outlined his hopes for keeping the music at Sr Canice’s to a high standard, increasing the size of the choir and gradually incorporating new music into the hymns familiar to the congregation. 

Parishioner and member of the choir, Karyn Lawlor explained how all the members of the choir had worked very hard. She explained the personal impact of singing during Holy Week, and especially on Good Friday. 

“It’s an emotional time to be singing,” she said. “It is hard when you are taking in the message not to choke up.” 

Jareth Norman (right) the new Music Director at St Canice’s Church, Katoomba with Karyn Lawlor (far left) and other members of the St Canice’s choir. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Acolyte Lucian Keegel has been a parishioner at St Canice’s Katoomba for 40 years and commented on what the Passion means to him. 

“The Passion is the part that relieved us of our sin,” he said. “It is sad, but in reality we should be happy. 

“I’m grateful He (Jesus) gave up His life for us.” 

See the photos from the service here.


You can watch the livestream of the Good Friday service at St Canice’s Katoomba here

Find Holy Week Mass times in the Diocese of Parramatta here. 

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