With a confused sense of enthusiasm, the Parish Community of Innaloo-Karrinyup felt a sense of pride in being asked to pilot the Parish Renewal in the northern zone.  Confusion, simply because unlike past directives from Church leaders, there was no pre-scripted program.  This Parish Renewal, is conscious of our unique parish identity and what we create, though distinctive to us, encourages other parishes to build on their history, embrace their current community strengths, and be forward thinking.

We had barely started the Parish Renewal, when COVID 19 and Church closures occurred.  Our parish renewal was challenged, but not beaten by this new handicap.  Yet how do we identify as Catholics’ without the ability to celebrate Mass?  We, as the people of God, are the parish of St Dominic’s- Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish – and we remain faithfully a spirit alive and real.  Our Parish leadership’s key priority concerned parishioner isolation during the lock-down, especially maintaining contact with senior members of the parish.

The many online Masses available for those with IT access offered some comfort, especially to those alone and worried in the quarantine of these exceptional times.  Parishioners of Innaloo-Karrinyup were encouraged to tune-in to the Archdiocesan Masses, generally led by Archbishop Costelloe SDB, to be strengthen and guided by our Church leadership, in this un-paralleled time of the pandemic.  Our Parish experienced exponential IT learning through ZOOM Prayer Gatherings, whereby we gathered to celebrate the Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word, well-timed before the 11.00am Archdiocesan online Mass.

The Parish ZOOM gatherings involved about 50 families each week to see, chat, and pray together in one spirit.  Broad networking of parishioners to lead the music, Readings, General Intercession and personal prayer, provided comfort, laughter and social connection.  Being a parish of many mature parishioners challenged by IT, the Parish Priest visited each parishioner and guided them in how to connect through ZOOM.  Those without internet were encouraged to phone in and catch up with the community in the ZOOM meet, and actively listen to the prayer gathering.

In addition to the parish’s ZOOM prayer experience, parishioners were encouraged by our Permanent Deacon to phone each other, especially those they regularly sat near at Mass.  These phone calls remain an important check-in, to prevent loneliness and depression for those feeling cut-off in these unprecedented times, and demand our duty of care for one another, including our spiritual, psychological, physical and social well-being.  We also stayed connected with parishioners through a new parish eNewsletter, emailed through the renewed parish website. In addition, assistance to anyone within the parish boundary needing help was provided by the local Vinnies group and parish volunteers preparing meals.

The suspension of life’s normal activities during the COVID lockdown period, in fact offered opportunity for the Parish to catch-up on administrative and maintenance needs.  Through ZOOM, a call out to parishioners inviting help was generously received, with preparation for local council green waste collection; OLGC repainted internally, with all fixtures removed and then reinstalled, and the foyer recarpeted, while always conscious of the social distancing rules.

The parish children were by no means left out with Sunday children’s prayer experience offered via ZOOM over the Easter Season.  This included families creating a prayer focus in their homes, adding items reflecting the unfolding message of the Risen Christ each week.  Family based activities encouraged the joy of spending time together based on the Easter Gospels.

The delight of coming back to sharing Mass in the parish has brought to light the anonymity of Mass online.  As Catholics, we are called to live baptismal kinship of care, not to be forgotten in isolation.  Despite the COVID Safety directives of public worship, we can still share the Sign of Peace with a smile and wave to one another, reflecting our unity as the Body of Christ through Him, with Him and in Him.

For more information about the Parish Community of Innaloo-Karrinyup, please visit:  https://innalookarrinyup.perthcatholic.org.au/