News from the Diocese


Catholic Diocese of Wollongong serving the people of God in the Illawarra, Macarthur, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions of NSW
  • MERCY: Lenten Program 2016 | Sheet Music


    We have received many requests over the past months for the sheet music for the responsorial psalms by Tracey Coombes featured in the Mercy Lenten Program 2016 and Cry Out CD.

    We have begun the process of transcribing the psalms into sheet music for use in the liturgy. Over the coming weeks we will be uploading the sheet music here for the responsorial psalms for Lent each week available as a free download. You can download the first week's sheet music below:

    First Sunday of Lent (Year C) - Be With Me Lord

  • Bishop Peter Ingham's Lenten Message 2016 - "Am I a Spiritual Person?"
  • Bishop Peter Ingham's Pastoral Letter for the Year of Mercy


    As your Bishop, I want to alert you to the good news that our beloved Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, from the celebration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on 8 December 2015 until the celebration of Christ the King on 20 November 2016.

    Pope Francis wants us to focus on Jesus’ words, “Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful,” (Lk 6:36) and from the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5:7) In the Bible, “mercy” is a key word to describe how God deals with you and me. Pope Francis is asking of us a key question: “Have we long since forgotten how to show the way of mercy and how to live the way of mercy?”

    Pardoning those who offend us is the clearest expression of merciful love, says the Pope, because pardon is the instrument put into our fragile hands to gain peace of heart. To let go of bitterness, resentment, anger, violence and revenge, are necessary conditions if we are to have peace and joy in our lives and bring joy to others.

    It is ‘spot on’ for the Pope to remind us that the practice of mercy is diminishing in our wider culture. Look at the merciless actions and senseless violence on our streets, which can make it risky to be out alone at night. Yet, the Pope tells us that without our witnessing to God’s mercy in the way we think and the way we behave, life loses its sparkle and it can become like living in a barren desert.

    Francis our Pope reminds us that Jesus is the face of the Heavenly Father’s Mercy – God’s merciful attitude is living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth.


    Pope Francis wants us to focus on what matters most – our relationships – because life is about relationships: our personal relationship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; our relationships with each other – those nearest and dearest in our families; people in our parishes; in our workplaces; in our schools; in our social, leisure and sporting activities; our relationship with people who are poor and in need as well as our relationship with our common home, the natural world around us. “Everything is connected” says the Pope. “Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere

    love for our fellow human beings and to an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” (Laudato Si, 91) “When we can see God reflected in all that exists,” says Pope Francis, “our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship God in union with them.” (Laudato Si, 87)

    Jubilee Tradition

    You may well remember Pope St John Paul II proclaimed the Great Jubilee of our Saviour’s Birth in the Year 2000. The Jubilee tradition of God’s chosen people (Leviticus 25- 27) marked each 50th year as a rare and important time to stop and reflect on God’s love and care, so as to respond by forgiving debts, releasing prisoners and letting the land lie fallow to regenerate. Jubilee meant a time of reconciliation, hope, justice and peace. The Church has embraced the Jubilee tradition since the 13th Century. In addition to this, Popes have also called Extraordinary Jubilees – Pope Paul VI in 1967 to mark the 19th Centenary of the Martyrdom of Ss Peter & Paul and Pope St John Paul II in 1983 called a Jubilee of Redemption.

    This Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, about to commence on 8 December, has been called because our Pope wants us, the Church, in all our witness, our preaching and teaching and our pastoral work, to be taking our lead from the merciful heart of God. If we are to be credible to people who don’t believe or to those who have given up on religion, especially due to the scandals and merciless acts of those who were called to be ministers of mercy, we, at all levels of the Church, have to show mercy and compassion. If all we do is condemn the evident evils in our society, we can seem to be out of touch with people who are really struggling because they are broken by suffering the tragedies life can bring. Rather, the Pope wants us to focus on how merciful the Gospels show Jesus was with sinners, with the sick, with people with disabilities, with those in need who were often on the margins of society. “Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the Mercy of the Father must be evident – in our parishes, communities, associations and movements In a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.” (Misericordiae Vultus, 12) How can we make this a reality in our parishes, schools and communities?

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation

    In the focus on mercy, you and I realise we need to be open to God’s mercy ourselves. St Paul reminds us that, “It is by Grace, you have been saved, not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God.” (Eph 2:4-8). It can be a shock for us, as modern, sophisticated, self-reliant people, to comprehend the stark reality that, no matter how good we may think we are, we are always in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness because of our human weakness and our often poor self-interested moral compass. Even though we find it hard to admit, we are all truly needy and broken human beings depending on God’s mercy to be saved, redeemed, forgiven and made holy. Such lack of awareness possibly explains why so few people these days approach the Sacrament of forgiveness. “Everyone, sooner or later,” says the Pope, “will be subject to God’s judgement, from which no-one can escape.”

    During this Year of Mercy, the Pope wants us to “place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.” The Pope went on to say, “I will never tire of insisting that clergy in the confessional, themselves be authentic signs of the Father’s mercy!” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17) In the spirit of the Pope’s invitation for dioceses to appoint specific priests to be Missionaries of Mercy, I am inviting all the priests of our Diocese to be missionaries of mercy and to make themselves more available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Lent 2016

    The Pope wants Lent 2016 to be a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. On the Friday and Saturday (4-5 March 2016), before the 4th Sunday of Lent, he wants “24 hours for the Lord” to be celebrated as intense prayer throughout the Church with Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, personal devotion and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Pilgrims Through the Holy Door

    The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in this Holy Year because our life is a pilgrimage as we make our way to our final destination – to be with God forever. So to reach the Holy Door in Rome, or at our own St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Wollongong, or at designated places of pilgrimage in our Diocese:

    • Immaculate Conception Parish Unanderra

    • Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy Penrose Park

    • The Benedictine Abbey Jamberoo

    • The Carmel of Mary and Joseph Convent Varroville

    • Bethlehem Monastery Campbelltown

    • St Paul’s Parish Camden

    • St John the Evangelist Parish Campbelltown

    • St Michael’s Parish Nowra

    We cross the threshold of the Holy Door as a sign we are seeking the grace to embrace God’s Mercy and to dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as our Heavenly Father is with us.

    A special Holy Year Indulgence will be available to free us from every residue left by the conflicting consequences of our sins on how we think and act, so that we may be strengthened as disciples of the Lord.

    I commend this Holy Year to your prayer and consideration and acceptance, because as Pope Francis says , “God’s mercy is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people approach it.” (Misericordiae Vultus, 25)

    I pray that, as the year unfolds, it will touch our hearts so that we can re-evaluate how we practise the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (see below), as practical evidence that we are open to receive mercy so that we will become merciful like our heavenly Father. Where will the “oases of mercy” be in our personal lives, our parishes, schools and communities?

    After announcing the Jubilee Year in March this year, the Pope said, “I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee, the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment we entrust this Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy so that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.” (Homily, 13 March 2015).

    Yours in Christ,


    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    Bishop of Wollongong 


  • MERCY: Lenten Program 2016 | Order Now!

    We are delighted to announce that the Diocese of Wollongong is now taking orders for our MERCY - Lenten Program 2016 book and Triple CD Resource.

    Continuing the tradition from past years, MERCY is a weekly program, primarily for group use, based on the Sunday Scripture readings during Lent. The name and theme of the program is in response to Pope Francis' Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

    We have secured the wisdom of Fr Ken Barker MGL (Head of the Missionaries of God's Love) and Sr Hilda Scott OSB (Vocations Director, Jamberoo Abbey) to lead us in our reflections for Lent. Both Fr Ken and Sr Hilda's academic and spiritual expertise is in the area of mercy, and we are convinced that the reflections they have written will change lives. Through this program, participants will experience a personal encounter with our merciful God like never before.

    Resident artist, Nelson Colo Matoma, is on board again and has painted seven beautiful original acrylic-based artworks for the program.



    The program is accompanied by a Triple CD resource that includes audio narrations of the Scripture readings by Jude Hennessy (Journey Catholic Radio) and audio narrations of the reflections by Fr Ken and Sr Hilda. We will have samples of the audio narrations in the coming weeks. The CD resource also contains the Sunday psalms for Lent beautifully put to contemporary music from the Cry Out CD by Tracey Coombes.

    N.B. The Cry Out CD containing the psalms for Advent 2015 and Lent 2016 is still available to purchase as a separate CD for those that like to listen to the music as a stand alone CD. However, if you already own the Cry Out CD and do not wish to use the audio narrations or the bonus liturgical resources (see below), then you do not need to purchase the Triple CD Resource.


    As a bonus this year, the book and triple CD resource includes special liturgical resources (including music) for the Year of Mercy compiled by our Diocesan Liturgy Coordinator, Paul Mason. These resources will assist parishes, schools and communities celebrate the Year of Mercy during Lent, especially the 24 Hours for the Lord. We will have samples of the special liturgical resources in the coming weeks.

    MERCY: Lenten Program 2016 Books

    Qty Catholic GST Group
    Price $AU (+ post)
    Retail (inc GST)
    Price $AU (+ post)
    1-9 $8.00 $8.80
    10-49 $7.00 $7.70
    50-99 $6.00 $6.60
    100+ $5.00 $5.50


    MERCY: Lenten Program 2016 Triple CD Resource (with bonus Year of Mercy Liturgy Resources)

    Qty Catholic GST Group
    Price $AU (+ post)
    Retail (inc GST)
    Price $AU (+ post)
    1+ Physical Triple CD $10.00 $11.00
    1+ Digital Download Triple CD (Coming Soon) $8.00 $8.80


    MERCY: Lenten Program 2016 Book + Triple CD Resource Set

    Qty Catholic GST Group
    Price $AU (+ post)
    Retail (inc GST)
    Price $AU (+ post)
    Book + Physical Triple CD $15.00 $16.50


    If you have any questions or you would prefer to place a phone or email order, please contact Jennifer Raposio on (02) 4222 2411 or orders [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

    Delivery of the books and CD's will begin in the second week of January 2016.

    Please note, if you live in the Diocese of Wollongong, please check with your parish, school, agency or religious order before ordering as they may be ordering copies on your behalf.

  • Beloved iOS and Android App now available for only $4.49!




    We are excited to announce that our Beloved – Daily Advent and Christmas Reflections 2015 book is also now available to purchase as an interactive App available to download on Apple and Android devices for only $4.49. The Beloved App includes all the text and images from the book as well as audio narrations of the reflections by the authors and the four advent psalm tracks from the Cry Out CD.

    Continuing the tradition from past years and tying in with the beginning of the Pope's Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Beloved App is a digital publication containing short daily reflections from the beginning of Advent (29 November 2015) through to the Baptism of the Lord (10 January 2016) primarily for personal use, but also appropriate for group use such as parish, Church agency, religious community and school staff/class prayer.

    These spiritually rich, yet accessible, daily reflections have been written by six contributors from the Diocese of Wollongong:

    • Fr Stephen Varney (Assistant Priest, Lumen Christi Catholic Parishes, Wollongong)
    • Trish McCarthy (Faith Education Officer, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Wollongong)
    • Deacon Michael Dyer (Deacon, Lumen Christi Catholic Parishes, Wollongong)
    • Sr Anne Marie Joyce OSC (Poor Clares of Bethlehem Monastery, Campbelltown)
    • Fr Patrick Faherty PP VG (Vicar General and Parish Priest St Michael’s Parish, Nowra)
    • Sr Hilda Scott OSB (Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo)

    The Beloved App also features beautiful religious artworks from our rich Catholic history with enlightening “artwork spotlight” descriptions written by Fr Graham Schmitzer PP (Parish Priest, Immaculate Conception Parish, Unanderra).

    You can read the reflections and/or listen to audio narrations of the reflections narrated by the authors themeselves.

    BONUS: Included in the Beloved App is the text for the four Sunday psalms for Advent beautifully put to music by Tracey Coombes.

    Click the below icons to purchase:



    Check out some screenshots from the Beloved App:


  • Positions Vacant - Pastoral Support Worker, School Chaplaincy


    Based in various schools within the Diocese of Wollongong (Temporary part-time (minimum 10 hpw) commencing Term 1 2016)

    CatholicCare has been engaged to administer pastoral support services to Catholic primary schools in the Diocese under the National School Chaplaincy Program. We are seeking suitably qualified people to deliver a range of non-therapeutic welfare, faith formation, spiritual and emotional support to students, families and staff of Catholic primary schools. For more information including application pack go to Careers page at or call Peter Burgoyne on 4254 9354.

  • Pope Francis issues new laws regarding Marriage Tribunal Process


    Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio [new laws] regarding the process used in Marriage Tribunals. The new laws comes into effect on 8 December 2015, the same day the Year of Mercy begins. Click here to view some Frequently Asked Questions

  • INVITATION - Diocesan Assembly on Saturday 5 September 10am - 2pm


    Bishop Peter will be addressing our Diocese on the Pope’s call to a Year of Mercy at our next Diocesan Assembly.

    We will also engage in practical workshops on how to apply mercy and healing in our family, parish and school life.

    Gather with good people seeking to live out their faith at Mount Carmel Catholic College, 210 Spitfire Drive, Varroville on Saturday 5 September 2015,

    9.30am for 10am start. Includes morning tea and lunch, concluding at 2.00pm.  All are welcome.

    Registration essential to Helen Bennett 4222 2403 or helen [DOT] bennett [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

  • REGISTER NOW - Embracing Family: Parish, School & Beyond Family Ministry Conference 2015

    Pope Francis has described family as “the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children.” (EG, 66). In his recent encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope describes family as “the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed” (LS, 213). However, we may well ask “What is family?” “How do we understand and relate to the many and varied ways family exists in today’s society?” 

    This conference will explore these questions and offer some practical skills and resources for engaging, nurturing and reaching out to families within and beyond our parish and school communities. Bringing together speakers from across the country we will develop strategies for more effectively engaging with families, enabling them to feel more at home and welcome within our faith community.

    Friday 30 October 2015 (9am-4pm) – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat Centre, (247 St Andrews Rd, Varroville, NSW)

    Saturday 31 October 2015 (9am-4pm) – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat Centre, (247 St Andrews Rd, Varroville, NSW)

    Conference Program – Both Days

    8:45am - 9:15am Gather

    9:15am - 9:30am Welcome & Opening Liturgy

    9:30am - 10:40am Keynote 1 (Friday) & 3 (Saturday)

    10:40am - 11:10am Morning Tea

    11:10am - 12:20pm Keynote 2 (Friday) & 4 (Saturday)

    12:20pm - 13:10pm Lunch

    13:15pm - 14:15pm Workshops Round 1 (Friday) & 3 (Saturday)

    14:25pm - 15:25pm Workshops Round 2 (Friday) & 4 (Saturday)

    15:30pm - 16:00pm Summary, Close & Afternoon Tea


    Keynote 1: “It takes a village to raise a child”
    Presenter:   Fr Elio Capra sdb (Lecturer in Liturgy & Sacramental Theology at Catholic Theological College)

    Does an ideal family actually exist? And does an ideal Catholic family actually exist? If so, what would it look like? Making use of Scripture and Church documents we explore these questions and the current social situation families find themselves in today. What are the complexities and tensions facing Catholic families in our society and in our Church?

    Keynote 2: Sharing experiences of engaging with families in Family Ministry:
    Presenter: Jill Gallio (Manager – Catholic Communities Office, Archdiocese of Adelaide)

    What are the life experiences, resources and skills that we bring to enhance and grow the relationships and learning partnerships we have with our families in our schools, parishes and neighbourhoods?


    Keynote 3: Family, School & Parish: One Community
    Presenter: Fr Elio Capra sdb

    This keynote will explore the unique role of the Family, School and Parish. What are the differences, privileges and responsibilities of each? What is the influence that each group has on the child and how can the three complement and support each other in the w/holistic formation of their children? What are the qualities and characteristics of a w/holistic formation of children in our society today? 

    Keynote 4: Valuing each other in Jesus’ name
    Presenter: Jill Gallio

    Drawing together many of the elements of the first address, Jill will explore the importance of knowing and valuing our families and honouring God already deeply present in every life and situation.


    Title: Parish: Supporting the Home as Domestic Church? 
    Presenter: Sr Sue Barker s.g.s

    Our church proclaims the home as the “domestic church”. But do our words, our policies and our practices affirm and support this vision? How can church leadership, teachers, catechists, parish workers support the home as the place of primary faith formation?  We briefly review what Church documents say about the Domestic Church and develop our understanding of a spirituality of family life. We also explore practical ways within our diverse ministries we can nurture the “domestic church” of our contemporary Catholic families.

    Title: Grandparents: Passing on the Faith and keeping prayer alive in the family
    Presenter: Fr Elio Capra

    This workshop will explore the important and central role of grandparents in today’s family. Together we will explore simple, ‘sneaky’ and creative ways in which they can help their families in passing on the faith and keeping prayer alive. This workshop will provide the participants with many examples, resources and possibilities.

    Title: Get Messy! What is Messy Church and Starting Messy Church in your parish or school.
    Presenter: Albion Park Messy Church Team

    How can parishes and schools connect with families and those who are close to our communities – but perhaps do not feel a part of them… can be tricky to hit the right note with such a broad range of people. We know that life is messy for many families. Imagine inviting the people in your school and parish to a two hour afternoon session for craft activities, a liturgy and a community meal. During this workshop the Albion Park Messy Church Team will explore the question "What is Messy Church?" and through discussion and dialogue share practical ways on how to start up your own Messy Church.

    Title: Youthspeak: Communicating timeless truths today
    Presenter: Seth Harsh

    Youth ministry can’t be seen as disconnected from childhood and adult faith formation, but rather, as an important part of a developmental continuum ending in full Christian maturity. How we communicate the Catholic faith often determines how well it is received and lived. We will look at how communication, recreational activities, relationships, and expectations have changed over the last 30 years and how this impacts youth ministry. Practical considerations will be discussed regarding how best to engage contemporary youth, and innovative models for youth ministry both today and into the future will be explored.

    Title: Families and Ageing in the 21st Century
    Presenter: Carmen Karauda

    Those who are ageing form an integral and vital part of the modern family life. In this workshop we will look at, discuss and share experiences on: importance of family relationships, families and the ageing experience; positive ageing; work and retirement and how interdependence not independence is the true "Gospel" value.

    It is hoped that through the information sharing and discussion that participants will embark on a better understanding and acceptance of ageing as natural part of life that can be integrated into the life of the family and family relationships.

    Title:  The Alpha Toolkit of Evangelisation and Family Resources 
    Presenter: Lorraine McCarthy

    Thousands of Catholic Parishes worldwide use Alpha to introduce people to a living relationship with Jesus Christ and form missionary disciples. Using the simple formula of food + talk + discussion, parish lay teams can effectively evangelise and re-energise their faith community.  We will give a brief overview of Alpha, view a sample Alpha Talk and ‘role play’ an Alpha Small Group Discussion. We will also look at the Alpha Marriage and Parenting Resources which to assist parish communities in their role of supporting and building healthy family relationships.

    Title: ”Conversations about Catholics”: Connecting People with the Catholic Faith
    Presenters:  Anne McLean; Anne Flynn & Sr Alice Sullivan

    This program assists parents with their questions and uncertainties about Church, and in turn encourages and empowers them in the faith formation of their children. It acknowledges and values how parents nurture their family, and gently brings people together by welcoming and connecting families to each other, to the wider community and to the Church. The Workshop will introduce participants to the four week program, the Leaders’ guide, up-to-date resources and take-home material.

    Title: Celebrating Children’s Liturgy of the Word
    Presenter: Paul Mason

    These two sessions uncover the meaning and rationale of celebrating a separate children’s Liturgy of the Word. We overview the celebration, exploring its nature as both proclamation and celebration, as well as its ritual structure.  We consider the participants and ministers involved and explore some practical issues and suggested resources.

    Title: Working with Children in Parish Ministry
    Presenter: Rebecca Miller

    This workshop provides an overview of the new Working with Children Check requirements for parishes and examples of best practice for lay people working with children, young people or other vulnerable people from our communities. Strategies for maintaining “right relationships” and what to do if you have concerns for a child or young person involved in your ministry are also presented.

    Title: Catholic Playgroup Resources
    Presenter: Rebecca Miller

    Parish Playgroups are fun and where lifelong friends can be made – they can also provide a pathway from baptism to school encouraging families to stay in touch with the Church and their faith. A more overtly Catholic identity for your Parish Playgroup serves to welcome families more fully into your Parish and provides opportunities to nurture the faith of families.

    This workshop introduces a new guidebook for Parish Playgroups, identifies resources and practical strategies to help your Parish build a vibrant family ministry.

    Title: The Catholic Guy & Parish Connection
    Presenter: Sandra Purcell

    Sandra will briefly describe the aims and objectives of The Catholic Guy Ministry and Impact Centres, share and give practical suggestions on effective initiatives to strengthen parish/school/family relationships and connect/reconnect people back to their personal faith and faith communities.  Discussion will be held on how parishes and The Catholic Guy ministry can work together.

    Title: We are the Memory of God
    Presenter: Patricia Mowbray

    Pastoral leaders are responsible for being inclusive in proclaiming the Good News, providing catechetical formation and sacramental preparation for parishioners with disability. People with disability, their families and their advocates, as well as those knowledgeable in serving people with disability can make a most valuable contribution. How can this be reality in parishes and faith communities? This workshop provides an opportunity to share stories and resources. We explore how we can provide and encourage the full participation of people with disability and their families in Church life. The focus will be on Sacramental preparation and celebration.

    Title of Workshop: Supporting married life in a parish setting
    Presenter Name: Cheryl and Eugene Gabin & Fr Doug Smith

    In this workshop we explore different ways of supporting married life. Drawing from the groups’ experience, we will look at what constitutes a “good or healthy” marriage, some of the reasons /causes for marriages breaking down, what impact a healthy marriage and an ailing marriage has on the immediate family, extended family and the parish and wider community. We will brainstorm, discuss and decide on specific ideas / things / tools that can actively support families in our parishes and in our communities.


    You can register for a Single Day Pass for $20 ($18.18 for Catholic GST Religious Groups eg, parishes, schools and agencies) or register for the Full Conference for $30 ($27.27 for Catholic GST Religious Groups). Registration includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

    The conference is using the TryBooking online registration system. Payment is by Visa or Mastercard. In addition to the registration fee there is a TryBooking fee of 30 cents per ticket. You will also be asked to select your Workshop preferences during the registration process. If you would prefer to download a paper registration form to complete and mail/fax/email to us, please click here to download the brochure and paper registration form. Otherwise, click the below button register online:



    If you have any questions, do not hesistate to contact:

    Darren McDowell
    Diocesan Faith Formation Coordinator
    P 02 4222 2463
    F 02 4222 2479
    E cfl [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

  • Joyous scenes as over 600 celebrate first Mass at Australia’s newest church in Oran Park

    It was an historic day yesterday for the Catholic Church in Australia and a great testimony to the faith and community spirit of the Macarthur as over 600 people gathered to sing, pray and celebrate their Christian faith at St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish’s first Sunday Mass at Oran Park at 10am. The celebrations continued after Mass with a massive sausage sizzle and meet-and-greet with the new parish priest, Fr David Catterall.

    It became apparent during the week leading up to the Mass that the planned venue (OOSH Centre) at St Justin’s Catholic Primary School Oran Park would not be big enough to cater for the number of people attending the Mass. The parish community quickly scrambled and decided to open up the doors of the school library and surrounding outside areas as the new venue. The school community also provided a wonderful service with their enthusiastic welcome, generous hospitality and beautiful music during the Mass. Fr David also announced that St Benedict’s Catholic College Oran Park have offered to carve a wooden altar for the parish.

    Fr David summed up the overwhelming scene in his homily saying: “Today, we make the words of St Peter to Jesus at the transfiguration our own as we recognise how ‘wonderful it is for us to be here’ – how wonderful it is for you and for me to be invited by the Lord to be a part of this new beginning not only for our faith community, but also our Diocese and our Universal Church.”

    Fr David continued: “As you would expect, some people have already asked me what my priorities will be as the founding parish priest of St Mary MacKillop Parish. I must say that my first priority is to get to know you, the people of this parish. To listen to your needs and hopes and dreams for this faith community and to work with you in making this vision a reality.”

    Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, Fr David said: “We hear how after the disciples had returned from their mission Jesus encouraged them ‘to rest for a while.’ Just like we need to stay connected to Wi-Fi in our work and social lives, we need to stop at times and be connected and re-connected to God, the source of all, in order for us to be faithful and fruitful Christians. That’s why I encourage you to do all you can, as we build our parish together, to make this weekly celebration of the Mass a priority. For it is here every week that we are invited to draw strength from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is and will always be the cornerstone of all that we build together.”

    Parishioners quickly jumped on the parish’s already popular Facebook page to express their gratitude and excitement on the day’s events. Christen Hallit-Yousseph said: “A very joyful and blessed opportunity to be at the first Mass for our new parish and being guided by Fr David whose infectious love of the Lord and life has flowed through our beautiful congregation.” Another parishioner, Alison Gatt, wrote: “So very excited to be a part of a new and dynamic parish. It was lovely to feel such a sense of community already.” Gerald Kenneally wrote: “A beautiful Mass this morning at Oran Park. It is gatherings like today that build great parish communities.”  

    In addition to the Sunday 8am Mass at the parish’s Leppington church and the 10am Oran Park Mass, Fr David announced that a Saturday Vigil Mass at Oran Park will soon commence to cater for the demand.

    Fr David also outlined the many great parish events coming up including: the planting of a tree to mark beginning of the building of the new parish centre and worship space at Oran Park (26 July), a visit from Bishop Peter Ingham (2 August), a day for parishioners to share their hopes and dreams for the new parish (9 August), and a parish pilgrimage to Mary Mackillop’s tomb (16 August).

    Earlier in the week Fr David had a cuppa with Narellan Fire Station Officer, Greg Wright, and his crew as they discussed how 30% of residential fires occur in the winter months. Fr David said: “It was a great opportunity to meet a group of people who are serving our local community so brilliantly. I was more than happy to hand out their fact sheet to all parishioners at our first Mass and I can’t wait to meet more wonderful people like Greg in our community.”