Dear Friends and Councilors,
On Tuesday I was interviewed by James Meston (of Arch D-Radio and Podcasting from the Catholic Education Office) on the Lockleys Catholic Parish and what has been happening in the parish over these Virus days.
You might like to listen to the interview below. The link will take you to the interview. It is preceded by an interview with Fr Peter Svaans of the Richmond parish. That’s interesting too, and interesting to do a comparison and contrast between our two parishes.
The Southern Cross has also approached me about offering a piece on our parish and its renewal, for the June edition of the Southern Cross.
With warm wishes,
An interview on our Lockleys Catholic Parish
There is something heart breaking about today’s gospel passage. John the Baptist heard while in prison, of the works of Christ. John who has spent his life preparing the way for the Lord, is not present to witness the mighty deeds and miracles of God’s Anointed One. Instead he hears from far away and sends his disciples to ask the question, ‘Are you the One who is to come or should we wait for another?’ Even prophets must live by faith and not by sight; even prophets struggle to understand God’s will. When we doubt; when we struggle; when we wonder; when we question – we are in good company.
Salvation is by faith not by sight: Jesus, who dearly loved and deeply respected John, did not respond directly to John’s disciples, Jesus simply stated: “Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see; the lame walk; lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear and the dead are raised up.”
Reflection: Is there a need of me to ask Christ if He is the Messiah? Has there been a time in my life when I recognised Christ acting in me? Have I recognised who and what Christ is for me?
Jesus is constantly manifesting himself to me, through his church, through the sacraments, through the Word , sometimes through an act of kindness of others.
Lord Jesus, announced by the prophets, enlighten the darkness of my mind so that in your light I can recognise you as the promised Messiah, accept you in my life and help others to accept you as Lord. Sr Bonnie fcj
Salvation is by faith, not by sight
At our most recent Parish Assembly, it was acknowledged that we, as a Parish, would benefit from ongoing opportunities to grow in our faith, share our knowledge of Jesus with others and support the faith development of our young people.
To this end, a small group from the Parish Pastoral Council has volunteered to plan for various seminars, talks, workshops, articles, input that will allow us to learn more about our Catholic Tradition to enhance our knowledge and perhaps lead us to a deeper understanding of what it means to be an active participant in contemporary church.
There are already many activities within the parish which support this goal:
Sacramental Program - (Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation)
Preparation for Baptism, Marriage
Secular Order of Franciscans
Formal presentations eg Fr Michael, Fr Maurice
Devotional exercises – rosary, adoration, morning prayer
Involvement in Archdiocesan Renewing
Training and education for lay led liturgies
But we are looking for Ongoing/ Future strategies to complement what we already have available. Some of these being considered include:
Possibility of Parish Library – books, tapes, CD’s
Possibility of novenas, retreats, other prayer experiences
Promotion of Australian Bishops Annual Social Justice Statement
Seminars on Pope’s Encyclicals eg: Evangelii Gaudium
Formation of various leadership groups - Liturgy Council, Youth Team, PPC, Education Group
Education sessions on the various feast days, liturgical seasons & contemporary issues Development of a Social Justice Group and Bible Study Group
Using technology better.
These are but a few ideas but we are always looking for your comments and suggestions as we plan for 2020 and beyond. Any thoughts you may have in this area will be gratefully accepted and considered and certainly if you are able to help in any way, then please let the office know. - Aldo
Education and Formation
ADVENT - The name for the season is derived from a Latin word which means “a coming toward or near”. In Advent the Church's attention is on the three comings of Christ: in the past at his birth, in the presence of the risen Christ with us today, and we ‘wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ’ in the future. Advent heralds the Christmas season which begins on Christmas Day and continues through until the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. Advent is a time of anticipation, of making room in our hearts and lives for Christ. It is a time of hope. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah speaks of his vision to reallocate resources from the manufacture of weapons of war to implements of cultivation, for it is better to feed people than to kill them. There are still prophets amongst us today whose words and actions strive for peace and justice. In 1997, a 5-metre sculpture was placed in a Washington DC square. Named ‘Guns into Plowshares’, this symbolic structure consisted of some 3,000 guns, surrendered by local people, welded into a steel plough. It proclaimed the prophetic hope for a time when God’s dream will take priority – where people will be fed rather than succumb to violence; where people will have genuine regard for each other and forget how to fight. Advent reminds us of the preciousness of all life. Can we begin by making time to look at one another and listen to one another? What hope is there of living less selfishly and more peacefully? The Advent season combines penitence and hope. - Joan
PENANCE - When we are FORGIVEN we realise that what we did RIGHT is far bigger than what we did wrong.
Everyone who can is encouraged to attend the Advent Communal Rite of Penance on Wednesday 18th December 2019 @ 7pm in our church. This celebration recognises the communal nature of penance. We will listen to the Word of God, and be given the quiet opportunity to think about the times when we have not been open to the Word of God in our own lives. The rite is one of healing and strengthening; it is gentle, reflective and non-judgemental.
- Please join us -
Individual Reconciliation will be available on Saturday 21st December 2019 and Saturday 28th December 2019 @ 5pm.
1st Sunday of Advent - Year A
The Feast of Christ the King is a moment to thank God for this parish, for its wonderful history, for all those who have contributed to it over the years, for the spirit of St Francis that lives on through the Franciscan Sisters, the many and diverse cultural groups, and YOU, God’s faithful baptised disciples. Our celebrations of the Eucharist this weekend and our ‘High Morning Tea’ on Sunday morning will be some of the ways that we thank God and celebrate each other. This Feast also concludes our Gospel reading of the Gospel of Luke. Next week we begin a New Liturgical Year, Year A, and hear the Gospel of Matthew for the first time. This new liturgical year begins the Season of Advent and our preparation for Christmas. The first weeks of Advent pick up the theme from last Sunday, the end-time coming of the Risen Jesus. As we move closer towards Christmas our attention turns towards preparing for the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus. In this new liturgical year we shall also be listening to voices of other parishioners. They will contribute their reflections to this front-page. Next week you will read a wonderful piece from a different author. This is another way of recognising the gifts of so many in our parish who contribute their baptismal giftedness to enhance the life of this delightful parish. -Fr Michael
A Liturgy Note: Last week we mentioned to the two ‘Tables’, the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist. We are fed from both. The Table of the Word is the place from which God’s Word is proclaimed, the homily given and usually our Prayers of the Faithful prayed. But nothing else. It is not a rostrum for a speech or parish announcements. Have you noticed how the commentator usually uses a different microphone and place to make announcements? This is our way of honouring the sanctity of the Table of the Word.
Luke’s Gospel reading over this weekend comes from a part of the Gospel where Jesus speaks about the end time. Luke’s audience had expected the end of the world and Jesus’ Second Coming to happen soon. But it hadn’t. In fact they had faced the destruction of the Temple, upheavals and wars. Luke draws on a style of ancient writing (called ‘Apocalyptic writing’) to tell the gospel’s audience that despite what it was expecting, their life had to go on. Importantly, Jesus affirms that God is with them in the midst of everything that is happening, even difficulties that they are experiencing. What Jesus says to Luke’s audience back in the late first century CE, he speaks to us in the parish of Lockleys. A decade or so ago we didn’t expect to face the changes we now do: Church crisis, parish changes, priest shortage, emerging lay leadership. We thought that “things would always be the same”. It is gradually dawning that it is not. But we face this unknown future with courage and confidence—just like Luke’s audience. Through our parish council we are encouraging the emergence of a parish leadership founded on our call to ministry from Baptism. The future of our parish is not bleak. It looks exciting and hopeful. All of us are invited into this new era as God’s presence accompanies us. -Fr Michael
A Liturgy Note: There are two parts to our celebration of the Eucharist: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both are of equal importance. We are fed by the Word of God and the Body of Jesus from the Table of the Word and the Altar-Table of the Eucharist. Both ‘Tables’ are specially designated above any other place in the church. We place candles near or around them to highlight their importance. Nothing else should visually distract from these. The central furnishing in the Church, above all, is the Altar. This is the symbol of Christ. The Altar, consecrated by the bishop with sacred chrism at the first opening of the church, is kissed by the celebrant at the beginning and conclusion of the Eucharist. We bow towards it when we enter the church or when we pass across it.
A New Era is Emerging!
Most of you will know that I am a Prison Chaplain, and have working as part of a multi-faith team of Chaplains in the State Male Prison System for almost 15 years now and ----
I have met men who have been charged with minor offences right through to men charged with rape, domestic violence perpetrators, murderers and men charged with pedophilia. And on NO occasion have any of those hundreds of men been anything but polite, I have never felt intimidated by a Prisoner.
There are 7 Male Prisons and 1 Women’s Prison in this state housing over 3000 prisoners and there are hundreds of men and women out on Parole or Home Detention Bail; most of these people will complete their Parole time without incident; we only hear of the few who break their Parole conditions and reoffend in a public manner. Sadly though, following their Parole completion with a recidivism rate of 45% this indicates that more needs to be done to support exoffenders and to welcome them back into society.
In reality the number of people affected by just one criminal activity is multiplied many times over when we add in the family, friends, community of both offender and any victim.
There are a number of people who, by the very nature of their offending, need to be removed from society, - for the sake of both, but that number is very small in comparison to the ever increasing number of people being incarcerated for what in the past brought a Community Service Order.
Prisoners are NOT BORN. They come from us - they are from a family, with friends, and relatives and belong to a community. And as such we have a responsibility to and for them. ‘Who is my neighbour?’ a question asked in The Good Samaritan story. We need to care for them when they are released from Prison (something we do not do) – ‘he took him to an Inn and cared for him.’
It has been my tremendous privilege and responsibility to have earned the trust of the men I meet daily who are incarcerated and to encourage them, support them in their hopes and dreams of a better future – outside of Prison - and offer hope when it comes time for their sentencing. To be allowed into their lives and to accompany them on their journey through the Prison system has been a God given gift and one that allows me to experience the unconditional love of God for ALL God’s children.
General media are great at showing a false impression of Prison life whenever there is something of a sensational nature to be communicated to the general public. It would be of greater value if they portrayed a factual day in the life of an incarcerated person. IT IS BORING!
Can you imagine life where you have no say over what you wear, do and when and where and with whom you will do it? Prison life is predictable.
In Prison, you are given clothing to wear – all the same – a cell, which you will share with a person NOT of your
choosing and in which you will spend the greater portion of your day. You forfeit privacy. You will shower when told to do so. And eat your provided meals in your cell. THERE IS NO TABLE FELLOWSHIP, meals are taken in isolation.
You have an allotted time when phone calls may be made. No incoming calls of course. Lights are turned out at a given time, just as, at a certain time in the mornings you will be woken.
You do have times each week, (not daily) when your area of accommodation will be allowed to go either to the gym/yard or remain in the Unit. - Most men engage in body building as it is the one area over which they have control!! – Library books are made available in each Unit and they are changed fortnightly; Should a man desires to read a particular book unless he knows both the author’s name and book title, then they must simply choose from the ones provided.
MOVEMENT within the Prisons are contingent on the full number of Officers always being present for duty or the men may remain locked within their cells all day. Only the men who are designated Unit workers, who serve the provided meals, a change of clothing, and collect the laundry and the rubbish from the men in their cells; only these will be allowed out of their cell to provide these services.
Some men work in various locations, some attend education, although the emphasis is on teaching men to read (you’d be surprised how many men cannot read) and to addition, rather than educate in a formal fashion as in schooling outside. Other men attend the Department of Correctional Service Courses designed to assist them in the reduction of their re offending when released; it is usually demanded by the Parole Board that certain courses are completed prior to Parole being granted.
There are medical and dental services available although the men continually tell me that they have to wait for ages to have their problem addressed, and I do believe both of these services need an overhaul to meet reasonable standards.
There are too many men in Prison who should be being treated for their recognised, diagnosed mental health condition in an institute designed to accommodate their issue – Prison is not that place and these men suffer all kinds of abuse.
As a society we need to address issues affecting people long before they result in their coming before the Courts. Surely, firstly families, and schools and the welfare agencies as well as GP’s and hospitals recognise that some children are in need of specialised care to protect them from what may become a vicious cycle of offending and reoffending. Of going into Prison time and time again. Of coming before Judges again and again without at any time there being a circuit- breaker action of interrupting their instinctual action or thought process in a given situation- too many people have grown up in what is often described as a dysfunctional family where violence is a daily activity. Learned habitual behaviour is very difficult to change; but as a society, we must insist that there be Government action on improving the mental and physical health, and general well being of incarcerated people, it must improve on what we offer now if we are to reduce the number of people being incarcerated.
Let me end by saying Prison is not a ‘holiday camp’ as Media often depict in some of their reporting. It is a place where vulnerable people become victims and where bullying is applauded. Where there is a ‘pecking order’ of prisoner hierarchy. Rehabilitation is just a Word and even that Word is not bandied about much these days.
I do not have the answer to reducing the number of incarcerated people but as it stands now, neither does Governmental Correctional Services or the Justice System. - Mel Monfries (Prison Chaplin)
Our parish council met during the week to reflect on the previous week’s parish Renewal Assembly. Members listed the helpful comments that came from those parishioners who participated in the Assembly: an acknowledgement of the rich memory of our history from three parishioners (which will be published over coming weeks), an affirmation to have two Assemblies next year, the desire to link St Francis School to the life of the parish with the involvement of parents and children, and a commitment to move forward with our parish vision and mission in the four areas of Service, Liturgy and Prayer, Faith Education and Hospitality. Council members have aligned themselves to each of these four areas to move them forward. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to join others in one of these four areas of parish renewal. I am reminded of Pope Francis’ 6th October homily opening the recent Synod on the Amazon: “If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then [God’s] gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo…in no way can the church restrict its pastoral work to the ‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel of Christ. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.” Pope Francis spells out the future direction of the Parish of Lockleys. -Fr Michael
A Liturgy Note: Communion in the Hand is not a new practice. St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 CE) writes, “When you approach [the Altar to receive Communion], take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King. then receive him, taking care that nothing is lost.”
Our Parish Moves Forward
If you receive any electronic communication (email, SMS, phone call) that purports to come from me requesting money, please be wary. Check with Joan, Annette or myself first. Sadly, one of our parishioners has already been stung. -Fr Michael
Last Sunday 45 parishioners gathered to remember the past 70+ years since the establishment of the Lockleys Catholic Parish. It was a wonderful moment. Three of our parishioners (Sr Bonnie, Jenny and Laurie) beautifully remembered our history in the hall dotted with memorabilia (thank you Annette and Joan). They captured the essence of the past years: Openness and hospitality shown to new parishioners, bonded through celebrations of Eucharist and Festivals, and diverse in our cultural expression as the new parish engaged the realities of the local area through excellent leadership from the Franciscan priests and Sisters. We remember the past, celebrate it, and carry these riches into our future, never to lose them. We turn our thoughts to the future in a Church and a parish that is so different from those wonderful early years. Even the parishes that surround Lockleys have changed. The numbers of priests have lessened. This means that the call of the baptised now becomes central, as a vibrant and talented parish pastoral council together with myself look at ways to engage the future creatively. What awaits builds on our rich past. We embrace the vision of the Second Vatican Council which describes the Church as the “People of God”. For obvious reasons, no longer can our parish be priest dependant, focused on one person. Rather, it is a parish priest supported and encouraged. Our future depends on all of us, God’s baptised, ministering in different ways to our local area. This is an exciting moment. -Fr Michael
Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future
This weekend we gather for our second Renewal Assembly. We shall remember the past 70+ years from three of our parishioners. We want to capture what has been the richness and giftedness of our past to ensure that we carry these forward into our future. As we renew our parish and plan for its future, we take heart from the words of Pope Francis. He encourages us to be a people of “missionary joy”, to go out to others, continue to be involved in the lives of those in our parish and build a deeper sense of communion and participation: “The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed
and is bearing fruit…An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast…If the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be ‘the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters’…This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few” (Evangelii Gaudium, 21, 24, 25, 27. 28). Pope Francis offers a vision for us. How we move this forward will be our focus at the Assembly. -Fr Michael
Remembering our Past to Renew and Plan Our Future
As we continue to reflect on the future and renewal of the parish, key to this is prayer. Of course, all of us are people of prayer. We pray at different times and in all kinds of different situations. This is private prayer. It is necessary. We are also a parish of prayer. These communal moments of prayer are also important. Many of us pray the Rosary. Sunday Eucharist is a high point of parish prayer each week. Together we listen to the Word of God through the Scriptures, from the Table of the Word, and we are fed from the Table of the Eucharist. In this context, our Sunday Eucharist is not ‘Mass-on-the-Go’, a quick in and out, but a moment each week where we linger and pray with each other, for each other, our parish and world. For this reason, the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (what guides our practice at Mass) invites us to pause at certain times for quiet prayer—during the Rite of Penance, before the Opening Prayer, after each of the Readings, before we acclaim the Gospel, after the Homily and after Communion. These moments of quiet centre us, connect us to each other and, through Jesus, to God. The are other profound experiences of communal prayer that I would also like to explore in the future: Lectio Divina, the Prayer of the Church and a Communal Rite of Penance for Advent. All potentially offer rich and additional ways of praying as a parish. A quick look at ‘Resources’ in our parish website (www.lockleysparish.com) suggests other prayer possibilities. We are a parish blessed with prayer and pray-ers. -Fr. Michael
A Praying Parish
The last few weeks have been ones of farewelling Fr Gabriel, and especially in the last week. As we know, he has ministered tirelessly amongst us for over twenty years. He spoke to me often about his desire to stay on in the parish in his retirement for another couple of years but in recent months he realised that his health was becoming more of an issue and looked towards retirement back in his beloved Malta while still able. We shall miss the kind and faithful presence of this good priest. His leaving us is also a significant historical moment. It concludes almost 75 years of continual presence of the Franciscans in this parish. There will naturally be a period of mourning about this. It is a new era for us all. We look to the past to continue to build on the good spirit from the Franciscans and Fr Gabriel. But their spirit lives on and is realised still amongst us by the Sisters and all the faithful parishioners of Lockleys. Our future, though, is one of hope, with great possibilities, as we continue to care for each other and renew the parish in so many ways. Towards this end, I invite you to join me and the parish pastoral council for our Second Renewal Assembly on Sunday October 27 at 10.30am. This is when we will hear the story of our wonderful past and see our plans for a bright and exciting future. -Fr. Michael