More than a thousand people flocked to Holy Family Parish Maddington to attend a March 16-20 retreat organised by Perth-based Syro Malabar Catholics from Kerala, South India.
The five day retreat included the rosary and enthusiastic preaching as well as music, praise and worship and Mass.
Everything was conducted in Malayalam, the native language of the Keralilte community.
“The retreat was about renewal,” parish priest Fr Varghese Parackal VC told The Record.
“It was also about Lenten preparations for Holy Week.
“We’ve had a few retreats in previous years but this was special.” Fr Parackal said.
Two priests travelled from Kerala specifically for the event.
They conducted a series of retreats all over Australia including in Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne and Canberra.
The retreat coincided with the installation of the newly-established Syro Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Australia’s bishop, Bishop Bosco Puthur, on March 25 in Melbourne.
Each day over 1000 people arrived at 9am and left at 4pm.
The crowds were so large that they couldn’t fit into the church so tents were placed outside on the lawn and screens were set up ensuring that the congregation did not miss what was happening inside.
“Lunch was provided for everyone. It was the feeding of the 1000,” Fr Parackal said.
After lunch another preaching session took place as well as Eucharistic Adoration and Confession.
“The people need it,” Fr Parackal said about the retreat. “They have a hunger for the Word of God.”
Fr Parackal pointed out that part of the four day retreat took place during the working week.
“If 1300 people had to be here on a weekday what does that mean?” Fr Parackal said.
“They had to take the day off to be there. This is very important. It speaks volumes about the retreat.”
Some people remained behind, after the retreat, for a few hours for personal pray and intercession.