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Parishes unite to welcome Jesus

Michael Kenny
Michael Kenny
Michael Kenny is Executive Manager, Archdiocese of Sydney Commission for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.
Around 140 people gathered at St Benedict’s Church in Broadway for Christmas Lessons and Carols 2021 on Saturday 18 December. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Collaboration is growing between five inner Sydney parishes which have come together to showcase their musical talents at an annual concert of Christmas Carols and Readings, modelled on the famous Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College in Cambridge.

Around 140 people gathered at St Benedict’s Church in Broadway for Christmas Lessons and Carols 2021 on Saturday 18 December.

The event brought together choirs and parishioners from St Mary’s Cathedral, St Patrick’s Church Hill, St Peter’s Surry Hills, St Benedict’s Broadway and St Joseph’s Camperdown and was led by Sydney City Catholics, made up of youth groups and young adults from the City Deanery.

It’s the second year the concert has been held, with last year’s concert held at St Peter’s Surry Hills.

The idea started in 2017 when Sydney hosted the Australian Catholic Youth Festival and young adults were looking for a way to strengthen ties between the different inner-city parishes.

One of the event organisers, Carl San Pedro from St Benedict’s Church Broadway, said the five parishes have previously come together for annual religious processions.
He said Christmas Lessons and Carols is an opportunity for the parishes to pool their resources and talents together in service of God’s mission.

“Music is important across all the city deanery parishes together”, Carl explained to The Catholic Weekly.

Organisers of the Christmas Lessons and Carols from left to right: Jonathan Salim, St Patrick’s Church Hill, Gerard Horsfall, St Peter’s Surry Hills, Sarah Moody, St Peter’s Surry Hills, Carl San Pedro, St Benedict’s, Broadway. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“St Benedict’s has a strong commitment to sacred choral music, St Peter’s has a long tradition of highly professional musicians as well and St Joseph’s in Camperdown has a very charismatic vibe to theirs and it’s a similar situation at St Mary’s and St Patrick’s as well”, he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady, who spoke at the event, said the parishes of the Inner City Deanery have set a great role model for others.

“The whole concept is excellent and they have made a real effort to foster a sense of community and of missionary discipleship which is particularly important for helping young adults to stay engaged with the Catholic faith”, he said.

One of the event organisers, Gerard Horsfall from St Peter’s parish, said it was particularly helpful to bring people together in this way after a long period of isolation linked to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Fellow parishioner and member of the organising team from St Peter’s parish, Sarah Moody, said the event next year would be held at St Patrick’s Church Hill.

“It’s about sharing resources, sharing talents and friendships, getting to know new people and maintaining and creating new connections across the parishes”, Sarah said.

“Music is a powerful way to bring people from all walks of life together and we wanted it to be an event that was easily accessible to everybody and where everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of their station in life”.

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