Dear Parish of Henley Beach
On Tuesday night (1/12/2020) we held our last Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) meeting for 2020. We farewelled Rohan Fernandez, Kingsley Parham, Dennis Hoiberg and myself, and welcomed six new members who nominated to be leaders in our parish in 2021 and give generously of their gifts of the Holy Spirit – Tammie Iacopetta, Tim Jackson, Andrew & Elizabeth McCulloch (one position), Bruno Timpani & Kathy Grieve (ex-officio).
PPC members are required to:
- evangelise (walk with people where they are at);
- serve, support, encourage and love others;
- be flexible & creative;
- problem solve; and above all
- trust in and remain faithful to, the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
When I think back to our March PPC meeting when the council was divided over the impact COVID would have on our community, we set up a task force, led by Dennis Hoiberg, to commence planning for worst scenarios. The key was to keep parishioners connected socially & spiritually, and physically safe. We anticipated the shut down and were possibly the only church in Adelaide ready and able to stream Sunday mass right from that first weekend.
We had spoken at all Sunday masses the week prior to this, and collected contact details of our most vulnerable parishioners. Many helpers assisted the PPC call over 600 people/families in those first months to ensure you had supplies, personal connections, access to the parish and our streamed masses, and website/Facebook activities and information.
Like everyone else, we discovered IT platforms and applications that we had either never known existed or had never needed, and developed skills we never knew we had. Eileen set us up with Zoom meetings, and the Parish later bought a licence to enable other Parish groups such as Alpha, Antioch and now Ignite, to continue to meet as the COVID crisis rolled on.
We revamped the Parish website to make it as user-friendly and accessible as possible. We instigated a social media blitz with a flurry of Parish and general COVID information, messages, support pages, blogs, activities, resources, links, readings, commentary, Children’s liturgy, and the occasional joke, all with the sole purpose of keeping parishioners close, connected and secure.
The unsung heroes during COVID have been our IT/communication people. James has spent hours upon hours sourcing, developing, implementing and perfecting the Parish streaming facilities. Supported by Rohan, Sharina, Kingsley and other Parish Zoomers, it is not an overstatement to acknowledge that their IT initiatives have carried the parish during this time.
The Church would not have been able to re-open without the guidance and practical assistance that was provided to the parish management team by the PPC. And so I believe the PPC of 2020 deserves a special mention for service above and beyond what anyone could have possibly imagined a group of dedicated and generous individuals would be required to do; they have been true missionary disciples.
The ‘Go To’ people (joined by Vania from the 2019 PPC) were all Parish Pastoral Councillors who committed to ensuring every weekend that masses adhered to regulations, accommodation was made for those not ready to return, and the inevitable last minute juggling of readers/ commentators/special ministers due to people being unwell. They also did the training to become essential COVID Marshalls and were rostered across all Masses and Church gatherings to ensure they were allowed to proceed.
We assisted the ever amazing Noreen to prepare the church for re-opening & set up the registration system, WHAT A PAIN! But we did what we needed to do, to keep the doors open; to keep our Parish connected; to allow parishioners to meaningfully gather safely together.
Rosalie continued to lead the choir, and co-ordinate our musicians and ensure meaningful music for all our masses; so talented and supportive, and with the voice of an Angel. During the shutdown we had live music for all five Sunday masses (remember the 11:30am?), a truly amazing feat. Rosalie’s leadership and encouragement of parishioners in our music ministry over the past few years is clearly illustrated by the depth and growth of this ministry.
Barb organised the ministries for all of the streamed masses during the shut down, and also managed to run an online Alpha, and another highly successful sacramental program that lost none of the specialness or personal impact. In addition to a number of hugely successful MSC Mission projects, Cheryl also implemented and directed social justice activities to assist both our local Vinnies who faced unparalleled demand, and the Hutt Street Centre. Parishioner donations of food & finances for people in need during this time were outstanding.
Our Henley Beach Prayer (the ‘Memorare’) was brought to life by a Kingsley who also assisted deliver the beautiful Frankly Facebook singing sessions (which remain the most viewed Henley Parish Facebook posts ever) to further provide support and connectedness during these uncertain times. Sophie took the opportunity to spruce up the Church & Hall during the shut down to make it beautiful for when we returned and her leadership has made the Mezzanine area of the Hall first grade real estate. Dennis thought of and implemented program after program – Men Alive, ‘Blokes of Henley’ interviews, Facebook interviews, the weekly scripture chat rooms, and the 9:30 coffee mornings. Eileen has organised the Wild Goose program earlier in the year and followed up with organising & implementing the current Ignite Advent program.
In addition to mass streaming, Sharina has been responsible for online Adoration which has been so popular we hope for it to continue when ‘normal’ times return. Sharina also put together the beautiful slideshows for Frank & John’s anniversaries. Rohan has been the back bone of our social media & website; so many posts and blogs; uploading the readings, bulletins & commentaries; watching the mass streaming each week and rectifying any issues and setting up the online registration system.
While it would be easy to dismiss the extensive care and work Noreen undertakes as her just doing her job, her dedication to our priests and parishioners this year has gone way above and beyond. Noreen has tirelessly overseen pastoral, building, financial, insurance, cleaning, COVID, MSC - the list is never-ending - needs & requirements with kindness, grace and good will. She has looked after us, and perhaps even more importantly, she kept our COVID vulnerable priests safe too.
With the Parish Management team, we trusted, we prepared and we got through. We kept across the COVID guidelines and the many ways they impacted on us in our large & active parish with our best flexibility, acceptance and good humour. Thank you for responding in kind during this difficult time. A sincere thank you to the retiring PPC members for their dedicated service, and I wish the 2021 PPC all the very best in their future service to our parish.
With blessings and thankfulness for belonging to such a wonderful parish.
PPC Chair 2020