Parishes turn to saints for inspiration

05 Nov 2008

By therecord

In the recent survey by the Committee for Family and for Life, thirty five parishes listed “Celebrating the Parish’s Patron Saint’s Feast Day” under activities in the parish which support family life.                               

Donuts for all: At St Anthony’s parish in Greenmount the feast of the parish’s patron saint is a big occasion, marked with all sorts of activities. One way of making it special and fun is for everyone to hoe into a donut.

Respondents gave reasons for celebrating the Parish feast day as “Patron Saints are seen as being chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, and causes – anything that is important.”
One parish pointed out that “Patron Saints are often chosen today because an interest, talent, or event in their lives overlaps with a special area, Even Angels can be named as patron saints. For example, Francis of Assisi loved nature and so he is patron of ecologists. Francis de Sales was a writer and so he is patron of journalists and writers. Clare of Assisi was named patron of television because one Christmas when she was too ill to leave her bed she saw and heard Christmas Mass – even though it was taking place miles away”.
One Priest said: ”In the saints we see people whose lives we can imitate and because we belong to the Communion of Saints we can ask the saints to pray for us. Celebrating our local parish’s Patron Saint is one way of bringing to mind an example of a saint whose life we can imitate and whose help we can seek.”
Fr Karol Kulceyck from St Anthony’s in Greenmount said that “For all the diversity that is the modern parish, (we have people from Poland, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, Australia and Vietnam to mention just a few), members can feel connected to the parish Patron Saint. Young and old can unite in learning from and honouring the same saint.
“Like celebrating a birthday, the parish celebrates its Patron Saint. Just as we have a name day, so too does our local church. We may not know why our church was given the name St Anthony but we can honour the example and spirit St Anthony shows by his life. Our celebration remembers and honours the past as it encourages present parishioners”.
Each year on the Sunday nearest the feast of St Anthony, June 13, the parishioners celebrate their multiculturalism by wearing their national costumes, using different languages in the Mass and sharing foods from their countries. Fr Karol provides a donut for each parishioner. The day concludes with fun and games.
St Denis parish in Joondanna recently celebrated their patron’s feast day over the weekend of October 11/12.
Fr Michaelraj Maniham, the parish priest, shared with the parishioners something about the saint and the connection with the parish.
Even though we may not know a lot about the Patron Saint of our parish, we can still reflect on the life of the saint to inspire and encourage.
For example, Fr Michael explained, St Denis and his companions, Eleutherius and Rusticus, (who lived around 250 AD) were disciples of Jesus and missionaries of Christ in leaving Italy to go to France to proclaim the Gospel.
Fr Michael said, “They witnessed to Christ. The legend says that they were beheaded and that St Denis picked up his head held it in his arms and continued preaching for some time.”
Referring to the Gospel reading for the feast day celebration where Jesus calls his disciples, “salt of the earth, light of the world with the Spirit of the Lord upon them to do their missions,” Fr Michael said that “in the eyes of the world our saints are dead – but in the eyes of God they are very alive.” He encouraged parishioners to “take pride in having St Denis as our Patron who was an ardent disciple of Jesus, zealous missionary, holy Pastor, and an heroic martyr. St Denis is leading our parish from his place in Heaven.”
The parish celebrated the saint with special prayers at weekend masses and with an afternoon of activities and a barbecue.
The front garden of the church was fenced in with safety netting so children would have a large safe area to play. Inside the foyer of the church, a Wii game was set up and supervised by a volunteer. This game machine was as popular with the adults as the young people.
Face painting under the trees for the young ones spilled over onto a couple of adults, too. The Australian flag face belonged to one of the young band members from the “April 22 Band,” students from Year 7 class at  St Denis school, whose average age is 12. This band entertained parishioners with some of their own compositions as well as songs from the more famous.
Children and adults were refreshed, glad to be parishioners of St Denis and went home licking an ice cream.

Results of Perth church family and marriage survey to be shared

Many of Perth’s 100 or so parishes are doing many things in an active attempt to support marriage and the family unit, a recent survey carried out by the CFL has found.
The CFL recently sent out survey forms to all parishes in the Perth archdiocese. The purpose of the survey was to get to the bottom of what, if anything, parishes are doing to support family life, marriage, parenting, children, youth, and the dignity of the human person.
The results of the survey are enlightening. Even the process of just filling in the form enabled many parishes to discover just how much they do, in fact, to support family life. Survey results will also enable the CFL to share with all the parishes of the archdiocese what other parishes are doing.  Following on from this successful response, the CFFFL is now surveying all archdiocesan agencies and organisations so everyone can benefit from the experiences of others.
In this edition of discovery the CFFFL shares some of the stories discovered through the survey process.