By Laura Neeson
It’s 9.25am on a cold March Wednesday morning, it’s teeming with rain but the prams are still starting to line up outside the door of St Anne’s parish hall at Galilee Catholic Primary School in Bondi, because playgroup is about to begin.
This chorus line of mums streaming in each week has generated curiosity amongst the locals, driving word of mouth and attracting more mums to join the ever growing number of families who faithfully come along to playgroup each week.
Our community playgroup has been running for just shy of one year but it has quickly become one of the most popular playgroups in our local area. Why? I believe it’s because we approach our playgroup as a ministry.
This initiative has been one of the most successful of the Family Educator Program at Galilee to date. It has been enthusiastically supported by our parish priest, Fr Anthony Robbie. It is a truly missional initiative, because it seeks to bring the Catholic values of service, love and charity to life.
Conversations between mothers and carers relating experiences of sleepless nights, fussy eaters and temper tantrums abound, while the children safely and happily explore, play, socialise and learn. At the end of each session, mums push their prams home looking relieved and grateful with children that are tuckered-out and ready for a sleep. It’s a privilege to be able to provide that to them through playgroup.
On the surface, it looks rather traditional, as parents sip coffee and tea and chat with other parents and carers, while the sound of laughter and squealing from busy children fills the air. If you look deeper, though, you’ll see it – it’s all about making connections – and this connection is something parents are hungry and grateful for after two years of feeling isolated.
I believe that the warm and inviting environment the parents and carers find at the Galilee Playgroup can even be the first step a person takes in a lifelong journey of faith. That’s because the experience of connection can be the first step to communion, that unique bond of love our faith creates between each other, and ultimately with God.
Laura Neeson is a Family Educator at Galilee Catholic School Bondi.