Holy Spirit Parish was created in 1981 with Fr Brian Rooney as the first Parish Priest, with the help of the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy. It has been in the care of the priests of the Order of Saint Augustine (O.S.A.) or Augustinians since 1995.
The Parish is under Parramatta Diocese and it covers the suburbs of St Clair, Erskine Park and parts of Kemps Creek in Western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is 39 kilometers west of the Sydney Central Business District, in the local government area of Penrith and is within the view of the Blue Mountains.
Many ethnic groups make up the members of the parish, mainly from Malta, Philippines, India, Pacific Islands, South Africa and Mauritius. It has a Catholic population of 11,239 (2011 Australian Census), which is 42.2% of the total population.
Our parish enjoys the presence of two Primary Schools and one College —Holy Spirit Primary in St Clair; Trinity Catholic Primary in Kemps Creek, and; Emmaus Catholic College in Kemps Creek.
The life of our community is nourished in many different ways—through our liturgy which is served by wonderful musical talent, by many community, social and pastoral activities, and various initiatives of ministry and outreach that are unique to our parish.
VISION & MISSION
The Mission of the People of God at Holy Spirit Parish is to witness to and to proclaim the word of God, and to pray and celebrate the Liturgy in word and sacraments so that we may be of service to others and form a community of "one mind and one heart on the way to God." – St Augustine.
Our vision is that we seek to be a community who are:
Welcoming, friendly and hospitable
Open to change, willing to learn, grow and collaborate
Served by the rich diversity of our talent and ethnic composition
Paying particular attention to the needs of families and youth
Used to celebrating both socially and liturgically
Striving to be Christ centred while reaching out to others
Holy Spirit Parish is pastored by the Augustinian Fathers, Fr Michael Belonio OSA (Moderator), Fr Peter Tangey OSA & Bro. John Zhang OSA. Their personal and priestly formation, both nationally and internationally together with a wealth of pastoral and educational experience within Australia offer a vast and rich resource in the parish.
MEMBERS OF PARISH COUNCIL
Aurelius Augustine belongs to North Africa at the close of the Roman Empire 200 miles from the Mediterranean Coast and 2000 ft above it, cut off from the sea by great forests of pine trees. He lives with his father, Patricius and mother, Monica, and as a young boy he is beaten because he loves to play and could not see the use of what he was supposed to learn at school.
One night when 16 with his friends he robs a neighbour’s pear tree of its fruit, for the simple thrill of doing wrong, and throws the pears to pigs. At seventeen he takes a mistress “I was in love with love” he wrote, and at eighteen is the father of a son.
He completes his Roman education at the capital city of Carthage and becomes a teacher, opening his own school in his home town of Tagaste. He finds rowdy students frustrating and difficult.
At thirty, however, he is a professor of liberal arts in Rome and soon wins the appointment as Public Orator in Milan, the imperial capital. To acquire a philosophy of life he tries astrology and joins a strange religious sect called the Manichees. But in Milan he meets a saint, Ambrose, and is converted to Christianity. At Easter time and aged thirty three Augustine is baptised with his son and his best friends. He gives up his work and his ambition to become a Provincial Governor and chooses a celibate life with neither wife nor mistress.
Back in Africa he begins to live as a monk in a community of friends. The pursuit of wisdom is the one goal in his life. His son, Adeodatus, dies aged seventeen. At thirty six Augustine is forced by the people to become their priest, and he is only three years a Christian. In five more years he visits the African City of Hippo, and is forced to become bishop. He says ……"I was made to stand at the helm of the ship when I didn’t even know how to hold an oar." But conversion had flooded his heart with light, he has a brilliant intellect and memory (all of the classics and the whole of the Bible he knows by heart) and he has an all-absorbing faith in God.
Love now becomes the one goal of his life. He unifies all existence, all feeling, all knowledge, all friendship into one love, love to the utmost. He founds monasteries to promote the community ideal but he has to govern and teach the Church in his city and in fact he becomes the Christian teacher of the whole Western Empire.
He is faithful to contemplation but makes time to write one hundred and thirteen books. People steal his books to read and publish them before he finishes writing them. Popular even today are his Confessions (autobiography) and his City of God. He leaves behind him 218 letters and 500 sermons.
In the year 430 aged seventy six he dies praying while the great Roman Empire collapses in confusion and attack. Vandals are at the walls of his own city, murder and pillage are everywhere. But he has become a saint, leaving no fortune and making no will.
So Augustine lives a changing and eventful life. It is an age of distress, civilisation falling to pieces around his ears. He has a restless, seeking dissatisfied youth which he later confesses as “sinful”, but peace settles upon his heart at the age of thirty three. He awakens out of doubt and confusion – a wave of religious faith breaks within his mind. He writes that God called to him, broke through his deafness and touched him: “I came to know you late” he prays.
By temperament, before and after this turning point, Augustine is brilliant and eloquent, needing to love and to be loved. He is timid however and finds it hard to give his confidence to others. He knows the difficulty of entering into communication with another person. But once he overcomes that difficulty, what capacity for friendship, what power of attraction! He remains young right to the end of his life with the memory of his childhood and youth always vividly present to him.
He is refined at heart, sensitive to feeling and he loves the truth. His writings: someone said of him “his words have a beauty, an intimacy and a thrill of emotion that I find in no other.”
Sixteen centuries separate us from this Augustine of Hippo. After he died his Christian North Africa disappeared, destroyed; its descendants passed to Islam and now speak Arabic. His land above the pine forests is now called Algeria. But his influence entered Europe, and Augustine is recognised in history as the founder of the Middle Ages and the architect of Western civilisation.
In his teaching he established the patterns of learning upon which the first universities were founded. And our Western contemporary ideals of freedom, progress and social justice owe much to him; he is called in fact the spiritual and intellectual ancestor of the 20 th century. People who read his books today discover that he is a truly modern thinker.
To get involved in any of our parish groups or for more information, please contact the parish office.
The members of the Liturgical Commission work together with the parish priest to oversee the liturgical life of the parish. This involves education programs and liturgical preparation for the various Church seasons. Overall, they endeavour to make the celebration of liturgy meaningful and inclusive for all.
In this ministry, altar servers are representatives of the worshipping community. Adult altar servers may be anyone over the age of 16. They receive
special training for their role and wear a white alb while serving at the altar.
Children can become altar servers around the age of 10 and must have received the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. This ministry can foster a child’s spiritual growth.
At each Mass, we require people to proclaim to the assembly the readings from the bible. It is the role of the reader to convey the message of the reading in a clear and precise manner. Training is required before a person joins the roster to read at Sunday Masses.
Our liturgies are always made more meaningful by the inclusion of music. We have many choirs in the parish and all would welcome new members. All you need to do is approach them after Mass and introduce yourself or, if you’re a little shy, ask one of the priests to introduce you. Remember, St Augustine said, “He who sings well, prays twice.”
The role of Eucharistic ministers is to help the priest distribute the Eucharist in a timely manner. There are usually 7 ministers rostered on each Sunday Mass - 3 for the bread and 4 for the wine. Training is required before this ministry can be undertaken.
To ensure active participation in the liturgy, the PowerPoint ministers operate the PowerPoint slides that contain the hymns and other Mass responses.
The people in this group aim to bring a touch of Christ’s healing grace to others. They perform a variety of tasks depending on need, availability and skill. These caring people visit the sick, the aged and the lonely. They might offer to help with transport to Mass or visit the bereaved to show support. Those who are Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist receive specialised instruction so that they can take communion to the sick and homebound.
Those who are in the Welcoming Ministry have a special role of greeting others with a smile and a kind word as they gather to worship. We invite you to continue this feeling of hospitality by introducing yourself to others; maybe gifting them with a smile or a kind word. In coming to know others with whom you celebrate, we can be more truly the Body of Christ.
At the Presentation of the Gifts during Mass the parish collection is taken up. This is not a rostered team, but volunteers may assist in this service during the Mass.
The devotional stall is run by volunteers and is open after most Masses. It is here that you might find gifts suitable for Baptism, First Communion or Confirmation. You can also find Sunday missals, holy cards and prayer cards.
The banners for our sanctuary space are created by a team of volunteers and help contribute to the prayerful atmosphere in our church, reflecting the theme of the readings or liturgical season of the Church.
A dedicated group of people make our worship space aesthetically pleasing and fragrant by providing fresh flower arrangements for Masses each week.
Cleaning altar linens involves taking care, washing and ironing of the vestments e.g. chasubles, albs, altar table cloths, purificators that are used when wiping the sacred vessels at communion, and the towels that are used at the altar by the celebrant. The linens are taken home once a week after Sunday Masses and then returned to the sacristy before the Masses for the following week.
Our wonderful band of cleaners endeavour to ensure that our church is a clean, comfortable and welcoming place for us to worship. These volunteers require no specialised training, just an hour or so to spare on Saturday mornings. The roster requires a group of volunteers to clean about once every five weeks.
On entering our church grounds you will be greeted by our garden which creates a tranquil space surrounding the building, inviting you into our worshipping space. If you enjoy gardening this group might be the group for you.
CATECHESIS & EVANGELISATION COMMISSION
The members of the Catechesis and Evangelisation Commission work to promote and educate our parishioners in the faith.
Each year volunteers offer to assist in a number of ways in the sacramental programs that run in the Parish; from the preparation for Infant Baptism, the preparation of children through the Sacramental Program, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) through to the Rite of Christian Initiation Adapted for Children (RCIC).
Jesus says to his disciples, “Go out into all the world and preach the Good News.” A catechist has the joy of spreading this Good News to the Catholic children attending the State Schools during the school hours. This rewarding form of discipleship does not require an in-depth knowledge of Catholic doctrine as resources are fully provided. The catechist brings a deep love of Jesus and love for children. It takes a little time to prepare and give your lesson once a week. It is also possible to attend classes once a week in a supportive role as an assistant to our catechist.
On the 2nd and 4th weekend of each month there is a children’s liturgy offered at the 6pm Saturday Vigil and Sunday 9:30 am Masses. Primary school-aged children participate in a Liturgy of the Word led by volunteers who break open the Gospel appropriate to the age of the children. The children rejoin the assembly in time for the Offertory.
The family group aims to bring young families together in support. They organise regular activities such as film nights, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day events and the annual family barbeque.
The ministry is open to all adult men, the only prerequisite being that you are either a father, brother, husband or son (good news, you are!). Come to share, come to listen, or come to learn. Monthly meetings follow a loosely structured plan based on a group selected theme, chosen to help men with their real world challenges and to reclaim their true identities as men! ESTO VIR - “be a man”. We are colloquially called ‘Men’s Business’!
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMISSION
The members of the Social Justice Commission work to promote social justice in our society. They bring together two groups working within this commission providing opportunities for parishioners to be involved in making a difference to our society.
“Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
The Social Justice group meets on a monthly basis and has an open door invitation for anybody to join them. They choose a focus for each year - to become more educated about the issue and to endeavour to do something about it.
In today’s world, there is a great deal of injustice and Jesus challenges us not to turn a blind eye but attempt to do something about it. “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” (Mat 25:40) Will you rise to the challenge?
The members of St Vincent de Paul volunteer their time to help those who are less fortunate. They offer assistance with food, clothing, blankets and vouchers for gas and electricity bills. They also visit people in their homes to provide company, support and generally to let people know that they are not alone.
The St Clair chapter of St Vincent de Paul meets weekly on Tuesday evenings. New members are always welcome.
The members of the Spirituality Commission work to develop the spiritual life of the Parish through different celebrations and groups.
Our parish youth group is BASIC GIFT—an acronym for Brothers And Sisters In Christ Growing In Faith Together. They meet after the 6pm Mass on Sunday evenings and they celebrate a youth Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.
Couples For Christ renew and strengthen couples in their Christian lives. They have a strong focus on being relevant to the life of the Church and help in supporting a vibrant Christian Community.
This is an Augustinian lay group who aim to foster the teachings of St Augustine. The group is based on community and friendship, prayer and a Gospel-centred life.
Divine Mercy devotion and adoration, is held at the parish centre currently on the 3rd Friday of the month from 7:30pm–8:30pm. All are welcome!
An opportunity to learn more about the stories in the Bible and how they relate to God. Different levels of study are conducted across the week throughout the year. Contact the parish office for more information and to book into a group.
The Mothers’ Prayer Group consist of mothers within the parish that meet at the church on Tuesdays after the weekday morning Mass for an hour, to pray for their children, grandchildren and spouses and reflection on the day's Gospel readings and songs of praise in thanksgiving for motherhood. If you are a mother and would like to join contact the parish office who can put you in touch with the co-ordinator of the group.
COMMUNITY & CULTURE COMMISSION
The members of the Community and Culture Commission bring people together through celebrations within the Parish and social events.
Of course we all love our bingo. This fundraiser is held once a quarter in the school MPA.
It follows the 6:00 pm Mass on a Saturday night and is preceded by an Aussie sausage sizzle.
With the feast of Pentecost being our parish feast day, we endeavor to do something out of the ordinary to celebrate it. Some of these have been distributing dove shaped cookies, free sausage sizzle and parish picnics on the church grounds.
In October each year we hold a novena for Our Lady of the Rosary. This is concluded by a Marian Fiesta where all come together to celebrate with food and music. Each year, a cultural group takes responsibility for leading the organising committee and the fiesta.
Each month we celebrate with couples who have their wedding anniversary in that month at the 9:30 am Mass. After communion, the couples come up to the altar for a special blessing and afterwards we all join them for morning tea.
This association is responsible for planning the monthly Filipino Mass on the first Sunday of each month at 3:30 pm. Additionally, they plan retreats, carolling during Advent and other activities.
OTHER GROUPS & MINISTRIES THAT SUSTAIN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH
There are other groups and ministries that operate in the Parish and that you might be interested to learn more about.
Members of the finance committee work in conjunction with the parish priest to ensure that our parish has the material and human resources needed to maintain the running of the parish and allow us to spread the Good News. With the collections at Sunday Mass and the regular church contribution program, parishioners are enabled to take some responsibility for the financial well-being of the church.
A team of parishioners nominated to represent the parish community for a period of two years, serve to facilitate an atmosphere of faith, hope and love within the community. Their role is to listen to the needs of the parishioners, discuss, consult, give advise and collaborate with the parish pastoral team led by the parish priest. All decisions made in collaboration and consultation are discerned through the guidance of the Holy Spirit . Any parish concerns emailed to the parish office and addressed to the PPC will be forwarded to the PPC executive committee for consideration.
Care and safety of the parish community is paramount at Holy Spirit Parish.
A small group of parishioners have over the years successfully received grants for outreach and local community projects.
One of the challenges of any building is keeping up with the repairs that occur over time.
Our parishioners generously contribute their financial resources to the operations and mission of our parish family through the second collection. Detail-oriented people carefully count and organise our weekly collections from the weekend Masses.
Members of the Fundraising Committee work in conjunction with the Finance Committee to help our parish finance the various ministries and projects. They organise fundraising activities and tap respective networks for potential donors of money, time and in-kind support.
June 19, 2018
The parochial district, later known as Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair was founded on 1st October, 1981, after it became clear that a large and rapid housing development was planned for the area. The site for the parish was chosen by a group comprising the then Regional Bishop of the Outer Western Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Bishop Edward Clancy, later the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney Archdiocese.
The bishop who succeeded Bishop Clancy as Regional Bishop was Bishop Bede Heather and he negotiated the final purchase of the property in 1980. The challenging task of developing this new parish was entrusted to Fr Brian Rooney, the first Parish Priest. In 1986, because of the developing population, the Outer Western Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney became a Diocese, known as the Diocese of Parramatta.
Bishop Bede Heather was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Parramatta. Bishop Bede, until his retirement in 1997, always showed a keen interest in and pastoral leadership for this fledgling parish.
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THE FIRST MASS
The first Sunday Mass for the new parish was celebrated at Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys on 4th October, 1981 at 9:30am. A meeting in the parish meeting room following. Approximately 80 people attended the first meeting.
After that, Saturday Vigil and Sunday morning Masses were celebrated in the auditorium of St Clair Primary School, Timesweep Drive. Prior to the building of a Parish Centre the parish rented a house for Fr Brian Rooney in Banks Drive and later on, one in Napunyah Way.
Daily Mass was celebrated in Fr Rooney’s residence. Baptisms were celebrated in Our Lady of the Rosary Church, St Marys, in the Auditorium of the School, after Mass or in people’s homes. During the first two years the number of baptisms grew steadily from one per week to three. By 1986 the number of baptisms grew to five per week. In 1999 there is an average of four baptisms each week.
Many planning meetings were held during 1981 – ‘82. Following a successful appeal to other parishes within the region, financial as well as material donations were received. This enabled the parish to make a start.
In choosing a name for the parish the people thought it unwise to focus on a Saints’ name because of the name of the suburb, St Clair. After much discussion and soul searching Holy Spirit was chosen.
“Let’s hope we always live as a Spirit-filled parish and ever ask for the release of His Life within us in our attempt to grow into the mustard tree of the Gospel.”
– Fr. Brian Rooney, 10 Year History Book – Holy Spirit Parish, 1991.
June 19, 2018
SISTERS OF MERCY
In 1982 three Sisters of Mercy of the Parramatta Congregation were appointed to assist in the parish. Sr. Joan Keogh, Sr Noni Ball and Sr Patricia Bolster. Sr Joan continued to work as Pastoral Associate in the parish until April 1994. Sr Patricia was appointed the first principal of Holy Spirit Primary School in 1984, and Sr Noni worked in the field of Drama until 1987. Originally the sisters lived at Doonside until the Sisters of Mercy built a Convent at 19 Todd Row in 1984. Although the sisters are not active in the parish at present, the convent is still used by the Sisters.
Early in 1984 the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy offered the services of a Youth Team to the area. Sister Mary Louise Petro, Jennifer Clarke and Anthony Murray were members of the Mercy Youth Team in 1984–85. Sister Patricia Brady and Tony Isaacs served on the Team in 1986–87.
Through visiting families and working with youth this team discovered that an urgent need for the area was the issue of unemployment of young people. The Sisters of Mercy responded by establishing the Mamre project. Now twelve years later the Mamre Project continues to offer valuable training and job opportunities to the local community and beyond.
Our first Pastor, Fr Brian Rooney, was assisted over the years by Fr Paul Coleman SJ, Deacon Fred & Martha Sansone (albeit briefly), Fr Wim Hoekstra, Fr Paul Venticinque, Fr Don Griffin, and also Deacon Peter Connolly for a brief time.
June 19, 2018
BUILDING OUR PARISH
The building of the Parish Complex, commenced with Stage I, the Parish Centre, main hall, and was completed in November 1983. The building of Stage II, the Presbytery, Church Foyer, Parish Offices, Kitchen and group meeting rooms, was completed in 1985.
The original parish church was built in 1985 as a multi purpose centre and a temporary place of worship.
June 19, 2018
In 1994 Sr Joan resigned from her position as Pastoral Associate to undertake a renewal program. Pauleen West was then engaged as Pastoral Associate until January 1996. In December 1994, Fr Brian Rooney, the first parish priest of St Clair, resigned and for two years managed the House of Prayer at East Kurrajong. To replace Fr Rooney Bishop Bede Heather negotiated with the Augustinian Fathers to pastor the Parish.
June 19, 2018
In January 1995 Fr Brendan Quirke OSA as Moderator, Fr Paul Maloney OSA, Fr Peter Wieneke OSA, were assigned to the parish. These three priests together with the staff, worked as a team until December 1998. Fr Brendan Quirke OSA was then transferred to Coorparoo, Brisbane, and Fr Paul Maloney OSA to the Augustinian Spirituality Centre at Greystanes. To replace them, Fr Peter Wieneke OSA was appointed Moderator, Fr Peter Tangey OSA came from Mareba and Fr Jim Bolton OSA came from Brisbane.
The 1997 Parish Assembly approved the Strategic Pastoral Plan of the parish. Among other things the plan called for the "Creation of a Master Plan for the Entire Refurbishment of the Church to meet Liturgical Requirements." In particular, the plan was to promote the "full and active participation of the assembly" in liturgy.
In July 1998 ‘A church master plan development committee’ was set up. Its initial members were Fr Peter Wieneke, Fr Peter Confeggi (liturgical consultant), Rod Santos, Jenny Scholfield, Frederick Prins, and John Thomas (chairman). The committee was later expanded to include Marianne Gallagher, Bert Llamas and Fr Peter Tangey.
To meet the ‘liturgical requirements’ of the Holy Spirit Parish the committee identified the following needs:
- Provision for a Marian Shrine, Eucharistic Chapel, Baptismal Font, Reconciliation Room, improved acoustics and sound system.
- Consultation with the broader parish community.
- Consultation with Diocesan liturgical advisors, acoustic experts and architects.
- Approval from competent Diocesan authorities.
On November 8, 1999 the firm of Brian R Dowling and Associates, Architects, in Canberra was selected to undertake the design plans for the refurbishment.
In July 1999 Sr Johanna Conway, RSM, temporarily joined the team as Pastoral Associate until December 1999.
In terms of buildings, the Diocese purchased a house in Peter Pan Glen as the priory for the Augustinian Fathers. The existing presbytery was slightly re-modelled to serve as better office and meeting spaces for the parish. In 1998 planning commenced to refurbish the parish liturgical space in line with official Liturgical norms.
June 19, 2018
On Sunday 30 July, 2000, the draft master plan for the refurbishment of the parish centre was presented to parishioners at the annual parish assembly, by which time the name of the Church Master Plan Development Committee had changed to Parish Church Restructuring Committee.
After a lengthy process of consultation the Parish Pastoral Council approved the new Master Plan on March 28, 2001. Approval from the Diocesan Liturgy Commission and the Bishop was also given at this time.
Work was completed in 2003 with the final results reflecting the vision of the 1997 Parish Assembly:
- more of the assembly has been brought to gather around the Eucharistic Table
- ventilation has been improved
- there is more natural light in the church
- the acoustics have improved to assist music and singing
- there is be a chapel of reservation which will assist prayer and devotion
- the baptism font has flowing water and allows immersion of infants
- a space has been set aside for "Our Lady" Chapel
- the gathering space is now distinct from the worship space
- the facilities for socialising have been enhanced
Today we celebrate as a vibrant community in our refurbished Parish Centre. It is spacious and the sound has improved remarkably. All in all a great improvement and a joy in which to Celebrate.