The diocese recently played host to a team of MGLs (Missionaries of God’s Love), including three Sisters; Rosemary, Bernadette and Kathryn, one Brother, Joseph and three lay missionaries Emma, Danielle, and Adil. They were joined by diocesan seminarians Leo Mascardo and Anthony Duns.
We spent two solid weeks travelling throughout the diocese, meeting parishioners, visiting schools, sharing food and fellowship and running programs of prayer and faith encounter for youth and people of all ages.
After a fellowship lunch with Bishop Karol and friends in Port Pirie and with our theme Arise which was derived from Pope Frances’ message to the youth Testify joyfully that Christ is Alive! We set off on our mission to minister to the youth in the four corners of the diocese.
We were filled with hope at St Joseph’s School in Renmark when the unsuspecting Leo pleasantly surprised all by demonstrating his ability to connect with the youth. We were greeted with a rousing response from the Year 5/6 class but Leo made a real impact. It wasn’t long before the entire class had joined in with singing, dancing, acting and interacting with plays and group activities. The session ended with a quiet reflective time where the students were asked to find a gift in their life that they could thank God for.
After visiting four of the Riverland schools, we travelled to the west coast to visit Chandada, Ceduna and Streaky Bay. At Chandada we helped celebrate the First Holy Communion of four children with music led by Sr Rosie. Afterwards, we were treated with country style hospitality with a feast of BBQ meats, salads and sweets too numerous to mention.
Across to the centre of the state and diocese was a visit to Port Augusta, Hawker and Quorn. The team enjoyed the local stories projected on the Quorn town silos.
In a remarkable effort to cover the four corners of the diocese, Roxby Downs and Coober Pedy were next on the agenda. In Roxby the team slept in the church facility which was the former Roxby Downs Police Station, complete with lockable cells in case someone from the MGLs got a bit rowdy!
On the Friday, the team joined St Barbara’s Parish School for their Sports Day. Some parents were amazed that the church still had active religious orders of Sisters.
Coober Pedy came after another long day on the road. An evening meal spent with a few of the locals in the Croatia Club revealed some hidden talents in the team with a karaoke machine providing the entertainment. A couple of young locals who were intrigued with the new arrivals in town became keen to attend the Arise session at the church the following evening.
We then travelled south to conclude a staggering 4000km round trip at the Slattery’s Narridy farm. An evening Arise session was held at St Mark’s Cathedral.
To summarise, we visited five schools, celebrated Mass in nine churches, slept on floors and in cells, ate an abundance of food, endured cold showers and freezing cold mornings and overcome a vehicle breakdown. Most importantly we shared the Gospel. Missionary work can seem a bleak and thankless task but as the Coober Pedy locals know only too well, there are priceless gems just waiting to be discovered with a little effort.
Many thanks to Tara and Nigel Brace for the use of their minivan enabling us to continue on our mission until the team bus was repaired.
Contributed by Anthony Duns, Seminarian & Sr Bernadette Toohey mgl