Open-Air Eucharist

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Seasonal workers at Port Augusta have had a trying year. Their 6-months rotation began in September 2019 and March 2020, so they have been here working for more than two years without a holiday, and without seeing their spouses and children, except on the phone screen. Then there was covid. No one in the overcrowded cabins missed out; a string of sad deaths back home in Timor; and confusion and stress about contract changes at work.

The Parish Pastoral Council wondered what we could do to cheer up our friends. We thought of a Parish Picnic, on Adrian and Naomi Maloney’s farm, “Nowhere Else”, on the Willochra Plain.

Mass in the shearing shed offered the intentions of a varied mob of Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and Agnostics, 12 nationalities in all. Mass was followed by one of those lunches where you are back for seconds…and thirds. Vietnamese Orange balls were a culinary hit, as were the lamb chops and bawans.

Then it was the main event, as Adrian lined up to shear the first sheep. The jostling for position was fierce. More photos and videos than the Platinum Jubilee. Joe from net Ministries “had a go” but seems to be staying with his current job. Young Lachlan tossed the fleece on the classing table, for Naomi to explain the wool classer’s art. Thank God for the simplicity of hospitality, friendship and kindness. Local communities can make seasonal workers feel a bit special, and get a good feeling at the same time.

And thanks to the Holy Spirit who continually moves ACMRO and ACRATH to help to make life more dignified for the people who come across the sea to keep our primary industries afloat.

In our diocese we have seasonal workers at Port Augusta, Riverland, Inland Mission and Port Lincoln. Are there any other parishes with seasonal workers?