The day started with our Parish Mass at St. Anthony’s at which 84 extra people as well as our usual congregation were present. These extra people were representatives of about 40 of our FG parishes across Sydney and were from Broken Bay, Parramatta, Sydney, Wollongong , Newcastle and Wagga diocese. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Peter McGrath and was not only celebrating Family Groups but also part of the day of mourning for the victims of the bushfires in Victoria.
After our Mass, Fr. Peter ran a day of motivation for the people present. It is always a good day for old friends to meet and new people to be welcomed.. Many people had come a great distance: Paul Casey and Rebecca Cupitt from the South Coast and Marg and Ron McAuliffe from Wagga; also Pauline McGrath from Belmont, NewCastle, as well as many others There was a great spirit in the gathering as we were all there with a common purpose, to help one another in our commitment to our parishes to live out the aims of the Passionist Family Group Movement. People in a Family Group experience love, care and support from other human beings. The Gospel message comes alive “ Love one another as I have loved you”
A Baptism had been booked to take place right in the middle of our FG day so rather than us all going outside while it was on, Fr Peter asked for us all to stay in the church and welcome the young family into the community. He then asked if people would come up and show support for them. Some people didn’t understand, but what Peter was getting at was, we are not just a group of people coming to church once a week, but a welcoming community, there to live out the gospel message of loving one another. This led to quite animated discussion! John Willis from the Lakes parish, summed it all up by saying “ No-one is perfect; Family Groups are not just social; we support and care for one another. The spirit of our parish would have died years ago had it not been for FamilyGroups” At our lunch break, all those present talked to one another as they ate their lunch, sharing their experiences and renewing old friendships often built up over the years. These meal times are a great way for many people to learn from others. Thanks to our St Anthony’s co-ordinating team and all the generous givers of food.
After lunch, Marg Casey enlivened our group with a short burst of exercise and song so we were all enthused to proceed. The other members of our directing team talked about their efforts with their parishes. Dennis Farrar gave a report on the Western area, including our new Parish, Glenmore Park, which is going very well; new parishioners are placed in a Family Group when they join the Parish. Annette and Tony Guterres told us of their strategies in re-energizing their parishes. Annette said she has spent a lot of time speaking with the priests in her FG Parishes and found them very responsive. Marg and Paul Casey, working in the Wollongong Diocese, even found a group they didn’t know existed, at Vincentia! Anne Nothmore from Menai told of 83 new families who have joined the Family Groups.. they now have 18 groups.