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THE CHURCH

This Week:

St. Simon the Apostle Parish

Location:

Rowville, Victoria

THE SERVICE

What was the atmosphere like? Cool, friendly, formal, traditional, happy clappy, vigourous, deadly?

Feast of Pentecost - The tone for the service was set by Father Martin's call for the congregation to pause to remember the Wurundjeri people on whose land we stood. The large congregation of people were expectant and relaxed. The three altar boys were devoted to their tasks. The children were enjoying themselves. The building was colourful for Pentecost: red banners fell on either side of the altar. Modern stain glass, sculpture and a view to the outdoor bush from the pews added to the appealing atmosphere

The Sermon
What was the Sermon about?

The sermon was about embracing the Spirit today and what it means to be free from fear to love freely. Martin compared the Spirit of the Apostles at Pentecost to the witness that four children taking confirmation gave before the sermon, to the Spirit of Reconciliation in Reconciliation week, to the spirit amongst the bishops meeting together with the Pope in 1962, and to communion that is free from fear and prejudice. He even quoted from the Jean Vanier article in Online Catholics!

What was the 'take home message'?

Where do we have to be set free from our prejudices to live in community of love and freedom?

How long was the sermon? (take off 1 point for every minute over 10)

7 minutes.

Liturgy of the Eucharist
Did the priest pray the Eucharistic Prayer with conviction or did he phone it in?

Conviction.

Did people participate in the Great Amen with vigour?

Yes.

How did you feel treated during the Sign of Peace? Like you were a Christian or like you had a nasty skin disease?

I was greeted by a startling, but welcome, nine people.

After communion
Did the priest maintain clerical dignity or did he start telling jokes? (any good ones?)

Dignity yes, but not without the sense of Martin's authentic self. At the end of the service he did crack a joke, and it was well received. Apparently a boy in the congregation, who later was comfortable enough to yell something back to Martin in fun, had told his Mum after learning about Adam and Eve, that he had a pain in his side, and that like Adam he was making a wife. This had the whole congregation in laughter and ended the service on a high note.

Lectors
(points out of ten: 10 = inspiring - brought the Word to life; 1 = hopeless - were they reading the telephone book?)

The reader was dressed in red matching the theme of the day and her voice rang out with clarity. 10 points

Music (points out of ten: 10 = ambrosia! The Spirit soars!; 1 = shriekworthy, hymns all in the key of Q flat)

Sensitive conducting of a 12 piece choir. Violin and organ. Spirit of Uluru: Music of the Australian Aborigines played before and selected points during the service during the service reminding us of the Spirit.

What hymns were sung?

Spirit come transform us
O breath on me, o breath of God
Holy Holy (Mass of Freedom)
Come and eat this bread


Duration:
How long was the whole thing? (out of 25, 1 point off for every minute over the hour)

one hour, or just under

THE TRIBE

What was the community like?

A large community of 450 in attendance and I found out later that roughly 1100 attend mass at St Simon's each weekend.

What was the social mix?

Very mixed, all backgrounds and ages. I met some interesting people - Imelda, for example, was one - she's an amateur story teller with a passion for story telling.

What social activities/groups did they advertise?

They'd just had a parish dance. There were groups advertised for mothers and toddlers and youth. They have their own web site www.stsimon-rowville.catholicau.com.

What social justice initiatives did the parish support?

In their newsletter they list support for Interfaith Network, Horseriding for the disabled, websites for women's issues, and St Vincent de Paul Society.


THE BEFORE AND AFTER MASS VIBE

Did you stand around looking lost for a long time, or did someone take pity on you?

The service is the kind where you can walk in and feel a part of something bigger and join in or be anonymous if you like.

Was there a morning tea?

No.

Did you feel like you'd like to get to know the parish more having joined them in worship, or did the Great Australian Desert suddenly have real appeal?

Yes I'd like to worship at St Simons frequently.

THE VERDICT

The Service:

Full marks, I'd go and feel comfortable to take someone along. Authentic and alive.

The Vibe:

Free to come and worship and be who we are.





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