One Sydney parish that’s become a monthly centre for the surrounding community also offers locals the opportunity to experience a little of the divine dimension to life
There’s nourishment for the body as well as the soul at Our Lady of Fatima, Peakhurst.
Every last Friday of the month a food market operates on the church grounds where it has become a hit on the local calendar.
‘The Foodie and Farmers’ night market draws up to 40 vendors offering everything from croissants and coffee, fajitas to falafels. Hundreds come looking to meet and meander on a Friday night.
It’s also an opportunity for a very unique parish outreach.
Frances Simon who serves on the parish leadership team, says that parishioners who attend the long-standing Friday night Eucharistic adoration held at the parish during that time have opened their hearts to pray for everyone attending the markets.
Volunteers circulate among the market-goers offering battery-powered tea light candles with an invitation to enter the church to ‘light’ their candle and place it before the altar.
There, welcomers stand ready at the church entrance, reminding those entering to leave any food or drink at the door and that the church’s interior is a quiet space.
“Some people have never been in a church before. Everyone has someone they are concerned for, a relative or a friend, someone they may like to pray for, and so it’s a real way I think God can use like reach out to people and draw them into the church,” Frances says.
“It’s also a way to start conversations and as a result some people have actually started coming to our church. People have really opened up about something that’s on their minds; there have been real moments of grace.”
Assistant parish priest Fr Tony Alex MGL said that opening the church during the night markets has been a beautiful part of the parish’s efforts at evangelisation.
He said there are always priests available for conversation or confession and he has witnessed touching moments of grace.
“One woman came in with her baby and sat near the back of the church, as soon as the baby started to make a noise she started to leave but I told her they were very welcome to stay if she wanted and there was no need to be silent. She remained for a very long time then and came up to me afterwards to thank me and said she was most grateful, it was the most peaceful time she had experienced for a long time.”