Linda De Souza, St Andrew's Church, Clayton
The Easter week this year, at our parish of St Andrew’s Church, Clayton, was a memorable, heartfelt celebration of our faith.
Our parish community worked hard to transform our huge parish hall into a church: a welcoming place of worship and celebration especially for the Holy week and allowed for everyone to come and partake—there was a seat for everyone who came. The colours of the white, red and yellow drapes and banners symbolically changed with each day of the Triduum.
Palm Sunday arrived cold and rainy but nothing was to deter our parish community from participating in this celebration. Our church which was decorated with tall palms, banners and flowers of various hews was packed with the crowds; we were welcomed at the door with a palm, everyone brightly dressed for the occasion, participated with songs of rejoicing and enjoyed being sprinkled with holy water as we hold up our palms.
Our parish priest Father Jacob had yet another event organised on this Palm Sunday for our parish. He invited Father Michael Payyapilly to lead us in a one day retreat to help us prepare for Easter. Father Michael’s three talks, quiet time and prayerful song made this day even more poignant. He spoke strongly, yet with humour, about who God really is to us, reminding us to seriously take action about the reality of our relationship with our God, concluding with Jeremiah 4:4.
Holy Thursday and the Feast of the Last Supper: the church was draped in white. The atmosphere was inviting with a sense of the beginning of a Sacred moment in time. The ‘Washing of the Feet’, emotional and humbling, as Father Jacob washed the feet of twelve Seniors who have served the community. We joined in procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the alter of repose and the opportunity to be ‘alone’ with Him until midnight.
On Good Friday 10am, our faith community walked together in huge numbers through Bald Hill Park as we prayed the Stations of the Cross and sang to our Lord. A light shower of rain came through just as we finished our Stations: we smiled as we looked at each other; possibly showers of blessings, cleansing, healing—we got home quite dry. We returned at 3pm to celebrate the memorable ‘Commemoration of the Passion and Death of our Lord’. Our packed church prayerfully participated in the reading of the Passion of our Lord, a brief video of Christ’s life, every song and prayer, Holy Communion and Veneration of the Cross. It was a day when come our parish community truly came together in our redeeming faith.
Easter Sunday, the holiest of all feasts in our faith, was celebrated with a glorius sense of rejoicing with the blessing of the fire and water, the readings signifying new life and new beginnings, the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults and more.
I observed that our parish truly came ‘together’ at this time. Everyone was happy to assist wholeheartedly with their time and talent. Our parish priest Father Jacob, in the short time of being in this parish, has nurtured a renewed sense of ownership and unity which enabled this time of the Holy Week to be even more significant. For me personally, it is yet another chance for new beginnings.