It was a joyous celebration on 10 December as Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP celebrated Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent at Sydney’s newest parish, Holy Family Mosman.
The formal amalgamation of the parishes of Sacred Heart Mosman, Blessed Sacrament Clifton Gardens, St Joseph’s Neutral Bay and St Therese Beauty Point had been almost two decades in the making.
Sunday’s celebration was an experience of great joy for those in attendance.
Archbishop Fisher said the amalgamation of the parishes represented a clear commitment to respond to pastoral realities, and to continue to serve the people of the area as best as possible into the future.
“The new name of your parish captures something of the history of the preceding parishes, churches and schools, but also the notion of a parish as a family of families under the banner of that most exemplary family to which we look forward at Christmas,” Archbishop Fisher said.
The 10:30am Mass at Sacred Heart church was celebrated in lieu of the 9am, 10am and 11am Masses across the other churches, something which parishioners described as symbolic of the communities joining together.
The entrance hymn, dedicated to the Holy Family, was specially written for the new parish by parishioner Pastor de Lasala. The hymn, along with all the music for the Mass, was performed by musicians from all four churches.
Creativity was also instrumental in the new parish logo, designed by parishioners Cheyne and Kobus de Beer to incorporate elements of the windows and
statues of the four churches.
At the conclusion of the Mass, parish priest Fr Philip Linder thanked the long list of people involved in preparations for the day.
To great applause, Archbishop Fisher thanked Fr Linder for his dedication to the parish and announced that he had no intention of asking him to move on.
He also thanked the parish for being a “finishing school” for young priests, most recently the newly-ordained Frs Mark Anderson and Matthew Lukaszewicz.
In attendance at the Mass was Tim James MP, state Member for Willoughby, with his wife and their three children, who are regular parishioners at Holy Family.
James said that he was very proud to be part of the parish.
“It is such a beautiful community,” he said.
“We love our parish priests, Fr Phil, and all our priests and parishioners. It is just such a special community, obviously with the schools, the churches but most of all, the people and community make it something very special, and to have Archbishop Anthony with us today made it even more special.”
Veteran parishioner and member of the Clifton Gardens parish pastoral council, Frances Warne, recalled that she was at the initial meeting about the amalgamation of the churches with then-Auxiliary Bishop Fisher in 2005.
She said that almost a year’s worth of planning went into this particular celebration.
Despite the long lead time, Warne said the day was highly significant.
“It’s our first real Eucharistic celebration of the coming together of the parishes and we are a Eucharistic family, so that’s why it’s important,” she said.
She also said that the archbishop’s acknowledgment not only of Fr Phil, but the parish’s role in walking with newly-ordained priests, was very touching.
Parishioner Nicole Meacock, who attends the parish with her husband and two children and was volunteering to serve food on the day, said that the parishioners had been looking forward to the amalgamation for a very long time. She praised the talents of so many who had contributed to the day’s celebration, adding that no better name could have been chosen for the parish.
“We come here as a family every week; it really is about family and our extended family,” she said.