On November 24, St Patrick’s Church in Nhill experienced a celebration of faith, once considered unprecedented in times gone by.
For those of you who may be unaware of our parish, we are situated seventy-five kms west of Horsham and our Sunday congregation fluctuates between fifteen to thirty people except at Christmas and Easter where, like most churches, the numbers swell, and the seats are full! Although we have a Catholic school and no resident priest, we are grateful that Fr Peter Hudson from Horsham or Fr John from Stawell travel at least twice a month to celebrate the Eucharist with us. In the absence of a priest, we still meet as a faith-filled community by having an “Assembly of the Word and Communion Service”, conducted by volunteers from our parish.
Having completed phase one of the Plenary Council, we have been meeting fortnightly since September 8 and have now completed all six themes in the “Listening and Discernment” phase. You may be wondering why all the themes and why such a short time frame? It was agreed that, if we were to do justice to our response, we should not be distracted by harvest, Christmas, holidays or anything else and so we chose to keep the momentum going.
One common theme which kept presenting throughout this stage was, “How can we, and why don’t we, share our faith journey with all in our community more often?” Instead of continuing to question this, with the approval of Fr Peter, we decided to act by inviting peoples from all churches and faith communities within Nhill to share in our Eucharistic Celebration, followed by a cuppa. As the numbers swelled, we thought we would have to perform the ‘loaves and fishes’ miracle as there were anxious moments whilst cups and scones and slices were counted. We were so pleasantly surprised by the response!
Following the success of this faith filled gathering, it was decided that further action would be taken in the New Year to formalise a group representing all faiths who wish to travel with us and assist in organising a couple of “faith sharing” occasions throughout the year. We are, after all, following the same God to the same destination, but we are simply using different freeways to reach that destination and that is great, as long as we stay on the road!
At this Holy time of the year we are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. We must never lose sight of why we are here and reach out to others in faith.
The above photo reflects the success of that day at St Patrick’s – hopefully the first of many to come!
Margaret Millington – Parishioner