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Nollamara Parish celebrates feast day dedicated to the Year of Mercy


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe (centre) with Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Priest, Fr Stan Bendkowski SDS, (far right), OLOL Primary School Principal Dan Wood, (third from right), Regional Superior of Salvatorians Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS, (second from right) former Parish Priest Fr Laurence Murphy SDS (far left), with (from left) Sisters Janina Pascoe, Joan Buckham, Joan Kelleher, Noreen Cahill, Catherine O'Connor, Maura Kelleher, Joan Smith and Mary O'Connor from the Sisters of Mercy. Photo: Matthew Gray.

By Jamie O’Brien

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Community in Nollamara was last weekend encouraged by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe to ask themselves how they are reflecting the face of mercy to each other, to their families, to their friends, children and the wider community.

The Archbishop challenged the congregation as part of the liturgy celebrating the annual feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is normally celebrated on 11 February.

Parish Priest Fr Stan Bendowski, said the occasion was an important day for all, and that he was very impressed with the spirit of unity and communion in the parish community.

Parish Priest Fr Stan Bendkowski SDS, said the occasion was an important day for all, and that he was very impressed with the spirit of unity and communion of the parish community, particularly as they prepared for the feast day and the joyful atmosphere of the celebration.

Fr Bendkowski went to say that he and all parishioners were extremely honoured with the presence of His Grace Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, the Regional Superior of Salvatorians Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS, former Parish Priest Fr Laurence Murphy SDS and Sisters from Sisters of Mercy Order, namely Sr Mary O’Connor, Sr Catherine O’Connor, Sr Joan Smith, Sr Janina Pascoe, Sr Joan Buckham and Centre for Liturgy Director, Sr Kerry Willison.

The school, together with the Parish, was established in 1958, with then Parish Priest Fr Rupert Kelly and three foundation teachers from the Sisters of Mercy Order who travelled each day from St Brigid’s Convent West Perth.

As part of the Mass, the Archbishop also commissioned the new School Board and P&F Executive, led by Principal Dan Wood, and blessed a recently completed garden to commemorate the Year of Mercy.

The new school Board members - Shankar Louis, Donna Gow, Nadine White, Katherine Millington and Vicki Paolo, together with the P&F Executive, Joanna Wood and Ruza Foster were given a special blessing and certificate by the Archbishop.

Mr Wood explained that the occasion was a fantastic opportunity for the school, as an integral part of the parish community, to come together in worship, celebration and harmony. The feast day, said Mr Wood, has traditionally also been an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity and multiculturalism within the community.

“The occasion has been a true witness to the dedicated faith and positive spiritual life and strong communion of the parish community,” Mr Wood said.

Mr Wood also spoke about the new Mercy Garden, which is located inside the school grounds and has been commissioned with the intention of being a visual statement of the values and heritage of the school.

The garden, said Mr Wood, will be a place where numerous school community services will be held that will bring teachers, parents, students and their families together in prayer, reflection and commemoration.

Mr Wood also said the garden, created in the Year of Mercy will also be a great symbolic space for many years to come because the school was founded through the work of the Mercy Sisters; whose traditions, values and community work continue to inspire the school community in its Christian witness.

In commencing his homily for the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe spoke about the letter from Pope Francis to inaugurate the Year of Mercy, which states, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”.

The Archbishop went on to speak about the Gospel reading, which told of Jesus’ call of the first apostles. The Archbishop continued by speaking about Christ’s mercy and compassion for Simon Peter, especially in relationship to Simon Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus at the time of Jesus’s arrest.

“There is a sensitivity in Jesus which knows that only one thing will allow Peter to move forward – and that is if he is given a chance to turn around his three-fold betrayal. And Jesus, when after the resurrection he asks Peter three times if he loves him, gives Peter those three opportunities. This is what mercy looks like,” the Archbishop said.

The Archbishop continued by speaking about another word which can be used to help us understand what mercy looks like in practise.

“And that word is ‘Large-Heartedness.’ At the end of the Gospel story, the thing that jumps out at us is this extraordinary, large-hearted, mercy and compassion of Jesus, even for those who had failed him so badly.

“This is what mercy looks like,” the Archbishop repeated. “And if we, this parish community, and the community of the Church here in Perth, are going to reflect the face of Jesus, this is what we have to look like as well. In our dealings with our husband or wife, in our dealings with our children, in our dealings with our brothers and sisters, in our dealings with our friends at school, in our dealings with our colleagues at work, we are called to be large-hearted people because this is the way that we show that we are disciples of Jesus.”

The occasion was celebrated with a parish and school morning tea with food from a variety of different cultures in the Fr Kelly Memorial Hall.