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Message from Fr Jude – Sun 18 Jul

Dear Parishioners of St James,

Greetings! Here we are finding ourselves as Victorians in another snap lockdown, the fifth of its kind! Please be reassured of our solidarity with you at this difficult time. On behalf of Frs Silvio, Brendan, Mario, Dcn Royden and the parish council, I write to remind you all of our Parish Feast Day on Sunday 25th July. We celebrate the martyrdom, in the year 44 AD, of St James the Apostle, patron saint of our Parish and of one of our Parish Primary Schools. Usually, on this day, we would gather as one family to celebrate with a special Eucharist around the table of the Lord and our Parish Party. For obvious reasons, for yet a second time, we are unable to come together for this celebration. While we may not be able to come together physically, we will still celebrate a special Eucharist dedicated to our Patron Saint. At this stage we cannot determine what will happen in a week’s time, hopefully we will be able to be present in our newly renovated church home; if this is not possible, we will certainly be able to celebrate, in a limited way, through live-stream on our parish YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/c/StJamestheApostlehcn) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/stjamesapostlehcn) pages. We were planning to enjoy some light refreshments, with the traditional cutting of the feast day cake, after the 10:30am Mass, but, for the moment, all this is on hold awaiting further announcements.

During these difficult times there is a piece of good news as, together with St Peter’s Mission parish, we have started an Alpha programme. This is a series of interactive sessions that create a safe and honest space where people can explore life, faith and meaning. A number of parishioners have responded to our invitation and the programme started last Tuesday. This will be another opportunity of renewal and growth in our parish community. Thank you to Fr Silvio and Dcn Royden for participating in this eleven week programme.

Wishing all at St James Primary School and St James parish the blessings of a happy feast day.

Go gently

Fr Jude M Pirotta mssp pp

 

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Dear Parish Family at St James the Apostle,

If there is one thing that COVID has taught us, it is this: that this great Easter mystery cannot be lived in isolation. It requires the bonds of community to support us and to challenge us. Every Sunday the Church gathers us as the Body of Christ at the Table of God’s Word and celebration of the Eucharist. We gather every Sunday as active participants in the life of our Resurrected Lord. Jesus has conquered death and everything that diminishes the divine life in us and among us. His resurrection from the dead is not simply a fact of history to be retold at Easter. It is a mystery to be lived every day. As Christians, we are just as inspired by the presence of Jesus among us as those who first saw the empty tomb.

Like them, we know that Jesus is not found among the dead. He lives among us in the community gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. He lives in the gospel proclaimed by word and deed. Through the sacraments of the Church, he gathers disciples, heals the sick, reconciles sinners and calls us to service. In our outreach, it is the hand of Jesus that lifts up the poor, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless and visits the confined. In these ways, and many others, we give witness to the mystery of Jesus living among us.

On the 18th of April we look forward with excitement as we gather in community around our Archbishop to bless our newly refurbished church building which will carry us into the future. We look forward to as many as possible to join us in this celebration – within and outside this building! May I take this opportunity to thank Fathers Silvio, Mario, Brendan and Deacon Royden, Geralyn McCarthy, the Parish Staff and Tess Mijares who takes care of the priests. Thank you to our many parishioners, including our young parishioners, who have so generously given of their time and talents to assist us to celebrate our holy week and Easter liturgies prayerfully and enabling us to be immersed in the beauty of these great liturgies. Thank you also to Kevin Lloyd and our Ushers who have enabled us to gather in a COVIDsafe manner.  Thank you to the Parish Council, Altar Servers, Carpenter’s Club, Environment Helpers (both outside and inside the Church), those involved in Music Ministry, Liturgical Ministers, Counters, Music Ministry RCIA Team, Anna Sia and the Cleaning Ministry,  those who donated palm and olive branches, people working behind the scenes and all who have been involved. We say a heartfelt thank you to all; we couldn’t manage without you.

So, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, may Easter 2021 be a time of great peace and joy for you, your families and friends. May we rediscover that despite the unpredictability of life at times, God is always faithful. God is good, good indeed!

Fr Jude Pirotta mssp

 

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Fr Jude’s Message

Dear Parishioners and friends,

Last weekend we gathered at last in our beautifully renovated and expanded Parish Church Building. For many people, not to be able to enter our church building over the last year, has been a serious depravation. Re-entry felt like a joyful homecoming, a long awaited return from exile, with an opportunity to celebrate the presence of the risen Christ in our midst. New challenges and opportunities continue to emerge as a result of the pandemic including new ways of being Church and of worshipping together.

Though we are in the middle of the penitential season of Lent, it is surely a day of thanksgiving to God, gratitude and joy. It is no small thing for a Parish to spend a great deal of money on a renovation and indeed the expansion of its church building, especially at a time when finance is tight and social distancing, because of the pandemic, is still in force. Yet our Parish community had chosen to do so because the church is significant for the people’s hope and faith. St Paul reminds us that we are the Body of Christ. Now God dwells among his people, the Church, the early Christians were so convinced of this that they called the building constructed for worship ‘the house for the Church’ Domus Ecclesiae, or, as we are often reminded, it is the people who are the church and not the building. The building simply houses the Church. It was very pleasing to hear many of our Parishioners affirming the newly refurbished sacred space, with messages of gratitude through emails and text messages.

Once again I express my gratitude to the architects from Smith and Tracey, Raysett the builders, the Parish Council, the Building Committee, St James the Apostle Primary School, Thomas Carr College, and the many volunteers and donors who generously offered their time, energy and financial support to see this project through.

 

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Message from Fr Jude

Dear friends,

This second lockdown has been more of a challenge than the first. I certainly have struggled this time. Even though we have not been able to gather physically, we are conscious that our Parish Community continues to gather as a domestic church linked together by our faith. Our webpage has the latest news and daily reflections. As a Parish Community, we continue to hold each other in our prayers, mindful of those Parishioners who are sick and in hospital, and those who have died.

We are looking forward to when we can finally gather as a community in prayer and fellowship. Until that time, keep safe, keep well, be people of prayer and know that we think of you and pray for you each morning.

On behalf of Frs Silvio, Mario and myself, go gently.
Fr Jude Pirotta

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Dear Parish Family,

I trust, through the grace of God that this letter finds you well. Given the enormous changes that we are living through, I must acknowledge that as a priest, I have never experienced a more difficult time, especially the suspension of public Masses and parish gatherings.

The current situation presents all of us with many challenges that through our daily prayers and our trust in God, we will see come to an end very soon. May we use this time after Easter as an opportunity to ask God’s guidance, protection, and blessings to end the spread of this deadly virus. Several weeks ago, our schools resumed with our teachers doing an amazing job preparing for online learning and preparing for the small group that need to come to school. Red, Tita, Angel and Maria, are working from home and alternating their days at the parish office. I certainly miss the daily encounter with all of you, but this current arrangement of distancing and restrictions will come to an end and when that does happen, I plan for us to gather both for the celebration of Mass and for catching up with friends once again. I take this opportunity to thank our school principals and all our school staff for their commitment towards our children.

Parents, may I acknowledge the challenges confronting you with at home and back to school learning and with everything else that goes with it. True we cannot get to our church worshipping centre at this time, in the physical parish sense, but the life of the Church is present in your families, in your household and in your circumstances, no matter what that might be, being part of the Body of Christ and part of your life at the moment. Please note that we do miss you and long to be reunited with you when all this passes. Here at St James the church building extensions continue, as we look forward to its completion later in the year.

The Corona Virus, dear friends, has helped us, families, school teachers and students, realise that churches are not being closed; buildings are being closed, we are the Body of Christ! The gospel is not constrained by quarantine, because Jesus is bigger than Corona Virus! God can, and is, moving powerfully during this time; our challenge is to prayerfully discern where the Holy Spirit is moving and then go there and join in the work.

Some ways in which we, as a parish, have been serving the community have been:
• delivering groceries and medicines;
• dropping off parish bulletins for people unable to manage the internet;
• advertising support to parishioners struggling with anxiety and loneliness or young children and those in self-isolation;
• making care calls;
• ministering to families and our youth, as they experience long days at home;
• remaining connected by using the Zoom platform for many meetings;
• setting up online faith sharing;
• communicating to the youth and young adult groups, and
• offering online Masses.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many parishioners ministering to us at this time with food drop offs

I think that when the dust settles, we will all realise how very little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connections. I thank Fr Silvio and Dcn Royden for their invaluable support and outreach to the community at this time, and all the facilitators of our ministries.

God bless you all.

Go gently, stay safe and keep smiling!

Fr Jude Pirotta mssp
Parish Priest

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Message from Fr Jude

Dear Parish Family,

I trust, through the grace of God that this letter finds you well. Given the enormous changes that we are living through, I must acknowledge that as a priest, I have never experienced a more difficult time, especially the suspension of public Masses and parish gatherings.

The current situation presents all of us with many challenges that through our daily prayers and our trust in God, we will see come to an end very soon. May we use this time after Easter as an opportunity to ask God’s guidance, protection, and blessings to end the spread of this deadly virus. Several weeks ago, our schools resumed with our teachers doing an amazing job preparing for online learning and preparing for the small group that need to come to school. Red, Tita, Angel and Maria, are working from home and alternating their days at the parish office. I certainly miss the daily encounter with all of you, but this current arrangement of distancing and restrictions will come to an end and when that does happen, I plan for us to gather both for the celebration of Mass and for catching up with friends once again.

Parents, may I acknowledge the challenges confronting you with at home and back to school learning and with everything else that goes with it. True we cannot get to our church worshipping centre at this time, in the physical parish sense, but the life of the Church is present in your families, in your household and in your circumstances, no matter what that might be, being part of the

Body of Christ and part of your life at the moment. Please note that we do miss you and long to be reunited with you when all this passes. Here at St James the church building extensions continue, as we look forward to its completion later in the year.

The Corona Virus, dear friends, has helped us realise perhaps that churches are not being closed; buildings are being closed, we are the Body of Christ! The gospel is not constrained by quarantine, because Jesus is bigger than the Corona Virus! God can, and is, moving powerfully during this time; our challenge is to prayerfully discern where the Holy Spirit is moving and then go there and join in the work.

Some ways in which we, as a parish, have been serving the community have been delivering groceries and medicines, dropping off parish bulletins for people unable to manage the internet, advertising support to parishioners struggling with anxiety and loneliness or young children and those in self-isolation, making care calls, ministering to families and our youth, as they experience long days at home, remaining connected by using the Zoom platform for many meetings, setting up online faith sharing, communicating to the youth and young adult groups, and offering online Masses.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many parishioners ministering to us also at this time with food drop offs, prayers, texts, emails and phone calls.
I think that when the dust settles, we will all realise how very little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connections. I thank Fr Silvio and Dcn Royden for their invaluable support and outreach to the community at this time, and all the facilitators of our ministries.

The COVID19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives and Mother’s Day will be no exception, with most celebrations happening over the phone or online. Let us thank our God for the gift of motherhood and all women of faith who have impacted our lives.

I asked one mother this week was there anything she needed this Mother’s Day—her reply was I didn’t need another box of chocolates. I just need to be treated equally and with respect, everyday of the year.

God bless you all. Go gently, stay safe and keep smiling!
Fr Jude Pirotta mssp

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Dear parish family at St. James, visitors and friends,

Even though our church buildings are closed, locked doors are no obstacles for the risen Lord.

We have never experienced an Easter like this, with public worship suspended in many places, and people confined to their homes.

Over the past weeks, our world and our lives have been turned upside down, as we respond to the global pandemic of coronavirus, COVID-19.

Our Easter services this year have taken a very different form, as Christian communities seek to respond in many ways that will slow the spread of the virus, and keep vulnerable people safe.

It has been heartening to see the creative ways our churches are connecting to pray, pastorally care for one another, and advocate for those who are experiencing disadvantage and injustice.

Across Australia and around the world during the Christian festival of Easter, we celebrate that Christ is risen, and continues to be present with us today. As we celebrate Easter this year, we are conscious of all those who are affected by the catastrophic and unprecedented events in our nation, of bushfire, flood and drought, as well as the global pandemic.

It is our Christian belief that through his life and ministry, Jesus identifies with, and comes alongside us in our suffering, offering comfort and compassion.

In our churches and wider communities, we are witnessing acts of enormous sacrifice and love, as people reach out to their neighbours. In the midst of grief, we see emerging signs of hope, and new life. The Jesus story as we have heard in the gospel, does not end in death, but in life. Jesus, the God-man dies on the cross and is buried, and after three days rises again. The disciples got to experience the risen Christ. They came to realise that the empty tomb was no joke, but the source of a new and glorified life, in which we are invited to share.

The risen Lord breaks through the physical and emotional barrier, just by standing in their midst and speaking “Peace”, banishing fear stemming from the hostility of the world.   It is not merely a wish: “Peace be with you”; rather it is a declaration: “Peace be with you”! The cross of Jesus, dear friends, says that there is no dark place, no depth of human desolation, where Jesus is not present – he is there. The book of Exodus speaks about “Moses entering the thick darkness where God is present” (Ex 20:21).

Jesus is in the thick darkness of COVID-19, and his resurrection says that he is the light which dispels even the thick darkness of death. So when we sing “The Light of Christ” on Easter night, even in an empty church, we are speaking a truth to all the world – that the virus may be new but the remedy is not.

We can all catch something of the reality of the resurrection, when we experience new life in the midst of hopelessness. We can see it in so many working on the frontline, our nurses, doctors, volunteers, religious, sisters, priests, shopworkers – all performing their duties so that society can continue. We can see it in the beloved disciples who see in the dark what no-one else sees.

Let us keep deep faith, dearest friends, stay strong and try to remain sane.

On behalf of Fr Silvio, Fr Brendan, Dcn Royden, the parish council, and myself, we miss you greatly and long to be physically united with you again.

May you all experience God’s renewing love and hope in your life and families. Have a blessed and peaceful Easter.

Fr Jude Pirotta mssp Parish Priest

 

 

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Letter from Fr Jude – Palm Sunday

Dear Parish Family, friends and visitors of St James,

It feels that we have been invited into the desert this Lent as we journey with each other through this pandemic. As your pastors, Fr Silvio, Dcn Royden and I have continued to remember you all, particularly at Sunday Mass which we celebrate privately, remembering your needs and intentions. We will continue to respond to urgent calls in critical circumstances.

These are unprecedented and uncertain times, but not a time for irrational panic or paralysing fear, just a time to take sensible precautions to isolate ourselves from others following the recommendations of the health professionals advising the government and the church, of which you and I constitute the vast majority of the people of God.

Pope Francis in his recent meditation on the 27th of March shared “Thick darkness has gathered over our cities and streets; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by. We feel it in the air, we notice it in people’s gestures, their glances give them away.”

The Pope continued “We find ourselves afraid and lost, however the pandemic storm has made most people realise that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disorientated, and it has shown how each person has a contribution to make, at least in comforting each other.”

Pope Francis reminded us that the Holy Spirit can use the pandemic to redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspapers and magazine headlines but are serving others and making life possible during the pandemic.

The Pope listed “Doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, care givers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.” I see this demonstrated in our own Parish community through our Parish Staff, St James St Vincent de Paul Conference, young people and other Parishioners inquiring how they can be of assistance, the RCIA Team, those who prepared the recorded liturgies and environment, the community’s care and concern for Fr Silvio and I, the many people praying and interceding for the good of all, and the many volunteers that are assisting to reach out to those in need following the new directives of Stage 3 the best way they can.

For grandparents, I appreciate it is a difficult time for you all, because the recommendations are to keep isolated from your lovely grandchildren, for your sakes and for theirs as well. I do have friends who have said they find this painfully difficult, but at the same time they’ve never received so much attention and communication from their own children and grandchildren. Social media certainly has its benefits if put to proper use.

Let’s continue to keep each other in our prayers and thoughts and try to be positive despite the undeniable anxiety we feel.

Warmest wishes to you all, and your families and friends. We can still keep in touch at a distance.

God bless you, go gently and safely,

Fr Jude Pirotta mssp,
Parish Priest

 

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St James The Apostle