Boom times for "new" church on Sydney urban fringe
The Catholic Weekly reports this week that school enrolments are up, more and more people are going to Mass, and the number of weddings and baptisms is increasing steadily, in what it calls the "vibrant new communities" on the edge of the Sydney archdiocese.
As former market gardens give way to the surge of new housing estates on the urban fringes, the new occupants - usually 'refugees' from the inner city, are busy creating thriving communities.
Fr Danny Meagher (pictured), from the fledgling Holy Spirit parish at Carnes Hill in Sydney's southwest, told the paper: "When people come out here, it's all new. They need something to hold the community together.
"We all try in our own way to get to know one another, to build each other up, and do the things that make community."
Fr Danny says there's a vibrancy that might not be present in older parishes.
"Everything is new and changing all the time," he says.
"The accommodation is temporary, so we're all crammed in together, living in one another's pockets. There's a pioneering spirit.
Meanwhile it's a similar story in the 'army suburb' of Holsworthy, near Liverpool, not too far away from Carnes Hill. The parish church of St Christopher's was dedicated to the army for some 30 years but returned to the archdiocese of Sydney in 1998.
Fr Anthony Mifsud (pictured left), who is the first parish priest, says the already vibrant parish community became stronger with the opening of a new school in 2002.
"St Christopher's primary school started with 50 students in 2002, then doubled, and will double again to 200 students in 2004," he says.
"Parents recognise the importance of the wider needs of our small community," he said. "They no longer just attend Mass on Sundays, but are also involved in the development of the parish and the life of the school.
"A new door into parish life has been opened."
Communities boom (Catholic Weekly)
Archdiocese of Sydney | Holy Spirit Parish, Carnes Hill | St Christopher's Parish, Holsworthy
St Christopher's Parish, Holsworthy
5 Nov 2003