Infant Jesus Parish (an OCD run parish)
Modern, light, spacious, airy and architecturally superb - very conducive to worship
What was the atmosphere like? Cool, friendly, formal, traditional, happy clappy, vigourous, deadly?
It was on July 4th, and the 50th anniversary of the parish. The atmosphere was one of joyful expectation and warmth. The very large church was packed to overflowing.
What was the Sermon about?
The celebrant and preacher was the Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey. He said he always thought of the Infant Jesus Parish as a young parish, and congratulated them on maintaining their youthful energy and exuberance. He then went on to comment on the readings, saying that the Gospel of the day was the great missionary Gospel. This year the Diocese has asked parishes to concentrate on evangelisation. I felt the archbishop missed a perfect opportunity to hone in on the fact that missionaries are not just people in distant places but we also are called to be missionaries in our local community.
I asked the people I was with for their comments. One liked the approach of the Archbishop - 'he was not uppity, he connected with the people'. The other thought the homily 'bland'.
What was the 'take home message'?
It was certainly encouraging and appreciative of the ministry that has happened in the parish over 50 years.
How long was the sermon? (take off 1 point for every minute over 10)
About 15 minutes (too long)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Did the priest pray the Eucharistic Prayer with conviction or did he phone it in?
With conviction. The mass was concelebrated, with previous OCD friars of the parish having returned for the occasion.
Did people participate in the Great Amen with vigour?
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 with warmth along with a certain restraint. I think the greeting of peace loses its impact if the person greeting you is looking to the next person before your greeting is complete!
Did the priest maintain clerical dignity or did he start telling jokes? (any good ones?)
The parish priest (Fr Gerard Moran OCD) obviously enjoyed the occasion and spoke warmly at the end, offering thanks to the many people involved in the service and the week's celebrations.
(points out of ten: 10 = inspiring - brought the Word to life; 1 = hopeless - were they reading the telephone book?)
This is a multicultural parish, reflected in the people who did the readings. They read well and clearly. The gospel procession was worthy of note. In order to reflect the Word being passed on through the ages, the Gospel was handed through a series of persons spaced along the length of the centre aisle, beginning with the oldest to the youngest. Each person held the Gospel high and slowly turned to each side of the church before handing it on. The child handed the Gospel on to be read.
Music (points out of ten: 10 = ambrosia! The Spirit soars!; 1 = shriekworthy, hymns all in the key of Q flat)
A special choir had been formed for the occasion and led the music with aplomb. They were let down by hassles with the amplification system.
What hymns were sung?
All modern, including a specially written parish hymn. The singing was uplifting.
How long was the whole thing? (out of 25, 1 point off for every minute over the hour)
Approx 1 Hour
What was the community like?
Multicultural with a capital 'M'. All ages. (The parish has a primary school.)
What was the social mix?
Just that - mixed.
What social activities/groups did they advertise?
As this was a special occasion there was little advertising.
What social justice initiatives did the parish support?
The parish has a very active Personal Advocacy group, in which parishioners are paired with a person with an intellectual disability, thus enabling them to participate in church life. There is also a social justice group and a bereavement group, among others.
THE BEFORE AND AFTER MASS VIBE
Did you stand around looking lost for a long time, or did someone take pity on you?
I knew a few people there so didn't feel lost. Special welcomers (wearing sashes) greeted people as they arrived and helped find the spare seats. In such a huge crowd it would be easy to feel lost if you didn't know anyone - the welcomers did a great job.
Was there a morning tea?
There was a lunch in the hall and church grounds. Most people seemed to stay.
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?
This is a lively parish (and I think, the biggest in Perth) and I would feel comfortable being a part of it. The OCD friars have run the parish for most of the 50 years. Like most Orders, there numbers are dwindling and getting older. The challenge now is to attract new members to the community.
The service was one of great celebration and thanksgiving, carefully planned and enthusiastically taken up by the people. I felt uplifted to be a part of it.
The vibe of the day was probably well reflected by what happened prior to the commencement of mass. The church was full a hour before the service began. During that period a previous priest of the parish who had spent a total of nine years in the parish, moved around the church greeting people.
It was a delight to observe the obvious warmth of those greetings which in microcosm reflected the atmosphere of the whole celebration. The memories and gratitude for the past were enkindled in the celebration of the present and the hopes and dreams for the future.
By the way, the parish has a website: www.infantjesusparish.org.au