Joyous scenes as over 600 celebrate first Mass at Australia’s newest church in Oran Park - 19 July 2015
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.”
Photography by Jeremy Yuen, Communications Officer - Graphic Design, Catholic Diocese of Wollongong.