Australia’s newest parish may not yet have a church but it does have a Facebook page, and delighted parishioners flocked to social media after the inaugural Mass for St Mary MacKillop parish, Oran Park, on Sunday.
More than 600 people gathered to celebrate the new Wollongong parish on 19 July.
Afterwards, parishioners shared their impressions of the “beautiful Mass” and “dynamic parish” on its Facebook page.
The Bishop of Wollongong, Bishop Peter Ingham, announced the new parish – the first new territorial parish in the diocese in more than 20 years – on 22 June.
Work will soon begin on the construction of a joint church and parish centre, which is expected to open later this year. In the meantime, Mass will be celebrated at St Justin’s primary school.
The first Mass was a “wonderful … new beginning not only for our faith community, but also our diocese and our universal Church”, said founding parish priest Fr David Catterall.
“We hear how after the disciples had returned from their mission Jesus encouraged them ‘to rest for a while.’
“Just like we need to stay connected to Wi-Fi in our work and social lives, we need to stop at times and be connected and re-connected to God, the source of all, in order for us to be faithful and fruitful Christians.
“That’s why I encourage you to do all you can, as we build our parish together, to make this weekly celebration of the Mass a priority.
“For it is here every week that we are invited to draw strength from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is and will always be the cornerstone of all that we build together.”
In his homily, the priest said his first priority is to get to know the people of the parish, “to listen to your needs and hopes and dreams for this faith community and to work with you in making this vision a reality”.
A tree was to be planted on 26 July to mark the building of the new parish centre ahead of a visit from Bishop Ingham on 2 August.
Fr David also announced that students of St Benedict’s College, Oran Park, will carve the wooden altar for the new church.
This post first appeared on 6 August, 2015.