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THE CHURCH

This Week:

St Patrick's Cathedral

Location:

Parramatta, NSW

Building:

This is the recently re opened Cathedral which was burned down in the 1996 fire. It was re-opened in November 2003. In the humble opinion of Sleuth, the re design is an absolute triumph.

THE SERVICE

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

This was the 6pm service on Sunday, the 19th Sunday and the Feast of Blessed Mary McKillop. The atmosphere was more monastic than anything, due to the 'cloister' arrangement of the pews which face each other in rows. Most prayerful, with a strong feeling of transcendence AND immanence.

The Sermon
What was the Sermon about?

The celebrant was Fr Joshy Velikkakath, cp, assistant priest. He surveyed the readings and reminded us that faith and stewardship of creation are two great virtues called for by the scriptures.

Fr Joshy is very genuine, but the Good Vibe Hunter suggests he loosen up just a bit. His approach is just a teesy bit formal. GVH says when he enjoys himself a bit more, we will, too.

What was the 'take home message'?

Faith to the covenant established by God, confidence in God's providence, stewardship and the necessity to be prepared for the arrival of the Kingdom.

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

Eight and a half. You bewdy!

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

With conviction. Fr Joshy is clearly a very prayerful, serious person. We both would have liked a bit more oomph in his delivery of the Doxology, however.

Did people participate in the Great Amen with vigour?

NO! What can you do?!

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

People were friendly enough at the sign of peace, but you didn't get the feeling that this was a very integrated group - it felt like a fairly disparate crowd wanting to fulfill their Sunday obligation but also wanting to get back to the footy.

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

Fr Joshy isn't the jokey sort.

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

Sleuth and GVH disagreed on this. Sleuth felt the lectors were pretty good and gave them a 7. GVH thought they only deserved 5, but was typically inarticulate about why. Compromise on 6.

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

The cantor, Leonie Kim, and her accompanist on the organ led the music with great beauty and skill. Leonie has a pure, clean, high voice (maybe too high for congregation) but her confident leadership was a significant feature in the overall success of this liturgy. Her voice is reminiscent of a boy soprano, which further added to the feeing of being in a monastery.
We gave her 9.5. St Patrick's is lucky to have her.
What hymns were sung?

The Cathedral uses Gather Australia (thanks be to God) rather than another done-to-death collection Sleuth could mention. Sleuth especially approves of the singing of the marvellous Peter Jones' Gloria (GA 137). Bernadette Farrell's almost perfect hymn, Christ be our Light, was gloriously sung by Leonie and congregation. The Sleuth almost swooned.

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

55 and a half minutes! Bewdy bottler!

THE TRIBE

What was the community like?

Very varied, Tamil, Anglo, Korean and Filipino crowd, all ages. Not wildly well attended. (It was cold. Sleuth thinks Big Brother might have been on at the time.)

What was the social mix?

Young, old, old Aussie, new Aussie. Pretty normal, really.

What social activities/groups did they advertise?

Sleuth felt there was an inappropriate emphasis on activities to do with women's bodies (Project Rachel, Natural Family Planning) or their traditional roles ("Free course for carers") as well as the inevitable appeal to youth.

What social justice initiatives did the parish support?

Couldn't see one! There must be some .....The enormously expensive World Youth Day was being promoted. Sleuth wonders if Jesus really wants worship that is indistinguishable from a cheerleaders' rally...


THE BEFORE AND AFTER MASS VIBE

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

There were some older women who were acting as greeters, and they were friendly and sweet. But being cold (and Big Brother being on) the congregation started disappearing before the end of the after mass hymn (very rude, Sleuth always thinks). But to be fair this is an urban church where there is likely to be more people coming and going, so there is perhaps less likely to be a strong 'community feel'.

Was there a morning tea?

N/A. Sleuth begs to suggest a teensy, restorative sweet sherry prior to lurching out into the cold?

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?

The crowd was a bit 'somewhere else' on this occasion but it seems an interesting community and one Sleuth would happily re-visit.

THE VERDICT

The Service:

In spite of a slight lack of community feel, the service was unequivocally inspiring. This is in large measure to do with the building, which is a triumph: it is not simply beautiful, but designed with a theological intelligence, e.g. the magnificent sculptured Crown of Thorns set aloft over the Eucharistic Table. The tabernacle is silver, set against a striking red background, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel - the Chapel is in fact the old Cathedral space, through which you have to go to get to the new Cathedral. This is architecture-as-theology. The Cathedral itself shows how beauty may be both old and new; Sleuth commends Bishops Manning and Heather for their vision in creating this wonderful building.

The Vibe:

The vibe was literally enhanced by the beautifully executed music, the intelligent choice of hymns and the hard surfaces. This "bathroom effect" means that the singing, even with a smallish congregation, was hugely satisfying, even for the extremely difficult-to-please Sleuth.
The Good Vibe Hunter wants to reserve a little judgement on the community vibe but looks forward to returning to a more family oriented service on the next occasion Sleuth and the Good Vibe Hunter go to St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta.

St Patrick's Cathedral website: www.parra.catholic.org.au





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