It was time for congratulations and celebrations, albeit online, on Tuesday as the Diocese of Parramatta’s newest parish, Holy Cross Parish in Granville, celebrated its first anniversary.
Holy Cross Parish was created on 14 September 2020 – the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – as a result of the merger of Holy Trinity Parish, Granville and Holy Family Parish, East Granville.
While the creation of the parish during the pandemic has created unexpected pressures, it has also been symbolic of the faith that the parishioners have drawn on over the past 18 months.
John Portelli, the parish’s Business and Projects Manager, explained to Catholic Outlook, “It is fitting that as we experienced one of the hardest years, for many people, we can look to the Holy Cross as a sign of hope and strength; the instrument of pain and torture which turned death to life.
“In these challenging times where we are forced to make so many sacrifices, we united all these things to the sufferings and passion of Our Lord, who sacrificed Himself on the Cross to give us the ultimate freedom which is the freedom from death and assurance of life with Him in heaven,” he said.
Over its first year, the dedication, passion, generosity and support of the parishioners have been on display through pastoral and liturgical projects.
The official unification of the Granville and East Granville parishes could not have succeeded as much as it has without fostering a spirit of collaboration between the two former parishes, which began as early as 2015, according to John.
Parish Priest Fr Andrew Bass echoed John’s sentiments. “Over the past six years, the goal was always to nurture collaboration between the communities and encourage the sharing of resources as a way to strengthen and to achieve what may have been impossible before,” he said.
“By doing this, it created an organic evolution and created an already strong foundation for the bringing together of the two communities as one.”
John added, “We are fortunate to have a very long and rich history which we draw on, and continue to build on, by inviting all to get involved through their talents.”
An example of the parish’s spirit was the St Joseph’s table for the Year of St Joseph. It resulted in so many donated goods from the parishioners for those in need that they nearly filled the parish hall.
John is grateful for the parishioners who assisted week after week to make sure that the parish remains COVID-Safe, before the most recent lockdowns, “no matter their origination under the former parishes.”
Fr Andrew is proud of what the parish has accomplished in the past 12 months whilst living through the pandemic and the restrictions that accompany it.
“This is what the Holy Cross of Our Lord teaches us, that by the grace of God, we are able to persevere and to find hope – that the days of Good Friday and Holy Saturday give way to Easter Sunday,” he said.
“With the challenges of the pandemic, the parish has continued to seek ways to reach out to people to help nourish the faith and continue to build a sense of community and shared hope, believing that we can accomplish many things under the patronage of the Holy Cross.”
Unable to celebrate its anniversary in person, the parish is using its strong social media presence and developed online community to celebrate ‘Holy Cross Month’ all throughout September.
Alongside the parish’s continuing offerings throughout the pandemic including livestreamed Daily Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Cross Month will include an online novena narrated by different parishioners, reflections on saints who have devotions to the Holy Cross and an online family games night.
To commemorate the Feast Day, Fr Andrew celebrated two livestreamed Masses, alongside a recitation of the Litany of the Holy Cross and sharing well-wishes from its school communities.
Once churches can be reopened safely, Fr Andrew and John hope that the parish will look to a future that builds on its strong start and the active involvement and engagement of its parishioners.
Fr Andrew is optimistic in continuing the strong ties with the parish’s three schools – Holy Family Primary, East Granville, Holy Family Primary, Granville, and Delany College, Granville – and well as the Missionary Sisters of Mary, Queen of the World – Australia, who minister in the parish.
“These communities all add to the rich tapestry of the parish and we look forward in faith, hope and love to further building on all that has been done and look to the Holy Cross of Our Lord to drive the next chapter of the parish’s story,” Fr Andrew said.
John added, “It is hoped that we can continue to grow and evolve our community through our personal interactions with each other – something which has been missed over the last couple of months.
“It is hoped that this time away will reinvigorate those in our community to return with a strong flame to serve and be present within the parish.
“It’s only through the efforts of those who get involved and their support of the parish priest, and one another, that we can continue to seek ways to develop and grow the parish in the future.
“If our past is anything to go by as to what can be done in the years to come, the future looks bright,” he said.
To see all the amazing activities that Holy Cross Parish, Granville, are celebrating their parish anniversary, visit their Facebook page. A brand-new website for the parish will be coming soon.