10/8/08 – Making the Space Your Own

Just before he moved to Blacktown to take up the position of pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish, I was fortunate to have Fr. Peter Confeggi invite me to visit Holy Family Church in Emerton – Mt. Druitt.  Fr. Peter has just completed a period as parish priest there.  What’s more, some parishioners would know that Peter was the person who crafted our baptismal font, presider’s chair and tabernacle in the early 1980’s.

The Mt. Druitt parish has the most significant Indigenous population in the Diocese.  It is also a parish, regardless of cultural background, where people struggle with many challenges as part of their daily lives.  It’s a very much a community where “what you see is what you get”.  So how does such a community create a worship space that reflects them as the Body of Christ in that area?

Peter has done a remarkable job of leading Holy Family Community on this journey. With a very, very tight budget, two years of working bees every Saturday brought to fruition a very beautiful yet simple liturgical space.  The seating arrangement allows the community to gather around the two tables; the Table of the Word (the ambo) and the Table of the Eucharist (the altar).  A chapel has been made to reserve the Blessed Sacrament, as well as for celebrating small daily and school Masses.

The wall of the chapel tells the story of the Holy Family according to different faith traditions.  The colour scheme is truly Australian.  The ambry (where the sacred oils are reserved) is built upon the branches of a eucalypt, the most prolific natural producer of oil in our land.  It stands near the waterhole baptismal font and the images of Our Lady and Blessed Mary MacKillop.

I was simply blown away by what the community has achieved through its own work and initiative – imagine a group of Tongan men picking up the old sanctuary floor and moving it to a new place where it could become the choir stalls!  We already (partly through Peter’s creativity) have in Wenty a space that says something about our community.  What more can we do to shape a worship space that is truly ours?

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