By Jamie O’Brien and Matthew Lau
Parishes are the special presence of the Church, the presence of God in an area that they seek to open their hands, to draw people in, and everywhere they can, so that people come to know and love Christ our Saviour, said Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the opening and blessing of St Simon Peter Church, Ocean Reef Parish.
Emeritus Archbishop Hickey celebrated Mass for the occasion on Sunday 9 December, and was joined by concelebrants Fr George Kolodziej SDS, Regional Superior for the Salvadorians, Parish Priest Fr Franciszek Kot SDS, (then) Assistant Parish Priest Fr Dariusz Basiaga SDS, as well as Fr Ryszard Sadowski SDS, (then) Chaplain at La Salle College Midland.
“And to proudly affirm their faith, and humbly live their faith, the faith of Christ,” Emeritus Archbishop Hickey continued.
“It’s good to come back and see the Church is still filled with the love of God, bringing generation after generation into the knowledge and love of Christ, through the Sacrament of Baptism.”
Attended by some 300 people, the anniversary was also an opportunity for Salvadorians Regional Superior Fr George Kolodziej SDS to announce Fr Zygmunt Wloczek as the new Assistant Parish Priest for Ocean Reef and Fr Dariusz Basiaga SDS as the Administrator for Clarkson Parish.
Fr Kolodziej said he hopes the new appointments will help strengthen the amazing work already being carried out in the respective parishes.
“I pray that these two men will carry with them the mind and strength of the Holy Spirit, always ready to announce the Good News and love of God,” Fr Kolodziej said.
Ocean Reef Parish Priest Fr Franciszek Kot said the parish has a very lively outlook.
“There are always parishioners who are willing to make the time to give their time, or their skills, for whatever it may be, in the life of the parish,” Fr Kot said.
“This is wonderful to see and gives me much encouragement,” he said.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, parishioners Elizabeth Merrifield and John Hollywood shared their experience with The Record.
The 80-year-old Special Minister, who has been a parishioner since 2004, is often seen at the door of the Church, welcoming all to Sunday Masses.
She also spends some 16 hours a week volunteering her time to visit the aged and the sick.
“My spiritual journey with God in the holy, Catholic, apostolic Church began with my background brought up in a very Catholic family in Ireland,” she said.
“When I came to Perth, I was a president of the Legion of Mary in St Anthony of Padua in Wanneroo, and a scripture teacher for 20 years.”
Following this, Elizabeth initiated Legion of Mary activities to the parishes of Whitford, Woodvale, and Clarkson.
“All these years at St Simon Peter, I have been teaching reconciliation classes to students and working with others every Sunday and attend all workshops,” she added.
“In general, I am very happy and joyful – feeling sanctified and edified administering to the sick, the lonely and the helpless to give good cheers to these unfortunate people.”
Elizabeth said she “feels inspired, blessed and satisfied doing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy”.
John Hollywood, 71, joined St Simon Peter Church 23 years ago.
He has sat on the Parish Council for the past 19 years and was formerly Chairman of 12 years.
A registered builder by trade, John helps with maintenance around the church where needed and is known for constructing the parish’s grotto, side adoration chapel, and flower room.
“I believe part of my duty as a Catholic is to serve the church. I am quite happy coming here and helping in my parish,” he stated.
At the age of 6, John was sent out by ship from the United Kingdom to orphanages to be raised by Christian Brothers at Castledare and Tardun.
John was elected as a councillor and served as Deputy Mayor of the City of Joondalup for seven years, and was also a councillor at the City of Wanneroo.
The Mass on 9 December was followed by a picnic celebration, with entertainment provided by the St Simon Peter School Choir, the Yong family, and the two Church music groups.
The Little Sisters of the Poor also set up a doughnut stand to raise monies for their building project in Glendalough.