By Amanda Murthy
Inspired by one of the efforts of the Archdiocesan Plan to build relationships and connect with the extended Catholic community of WA, a group of parishioners from Saint Teresa of Calcutta Church, Baldivis Parish, packed their bags to spend the weekend with the Catholic community of York.
The efforts were headed by Father Geoff Aldous who said that the trip was a step in reaching out to country parishes that are isolated and have a lower number of activities organised within the parish due to smaller numbers.
Thirty parishioners of all ages were welcomed on Saturday 6 and 7 April to the home of Brookton couple Claire and Ross Evan and set up tents around their farmhouse where they camped for the night.
Fr Aldous shared some of the events that took place during the trip, which he said was somewhat of a spiritual journey in preparation of the Easter celebrations.
“On the Sunday morning we went for a walk up a hill, where the children led in Stations of the Cross and that afternoon we had an outdoor mass where 10 of the local community members joined in with the celebration.
“Each of these experiences were very meaningful to us, as both communities were able to get to know one another, pray, stay and fellowship together for the duration.”
Fr Aldous added that both the Baldivis and York communities were fortunate to have opportunities to fellowship with one another at the conclusion of masses held on Saturday at Pingelly and after the outdoor mass held at Brookton.
“Being able to talk, share stories and communicate with one another, just as Jesus did in His time on earth, was something special for all of us,” Fr Aldous said.
“From this experience, most of our parishioners found that we appreciate our community more and don’t take the luxuries we have for granted.
“We want to encourage more parishes that are based in the city and its surrounding areas to reach out to parishes in the countryside and minister to them. Hopefully our actions can inspire everyone to want to do more,” he added.
Fr Aldous thanked the hosts that equally provided the spirit of hospitality to his parishioners throughout their stay.
“Fr Stephen Cooney OPraem supported our efforts and welcomed us with opened arms, our hosts opened their home to us and the entire community were very warm and welcoming,” he said.
Outreach participant Silla Autagavaia said her most cherished moments from the experience are ones that cannot be bought with money.
“I loved sharing my faith experiences with those I encountered and handing out prayer cards that I prepared as a gesture, everyone was wonderful and I feel blessed to have been a part of this initiative,” she said.
“My husband who was sick was having some difficulty climbing the hill during the Stations of the Cross, but many wheeled him up hill and we were so touched by their hospitality.
“I can’t wait for our next visit to the Goomalling Parish Sacred Heart Catholic Church located two and a half hours away from our parish, its’ going to be another experience that will not only benefit those we visit, but it benefits my community just as much.
“Journeying together as a community of Christ,” she concluded.