Through It all, We Keep on Going
Throughout these months of the churches being closed, Holy Cross Parish persevered untiringly. As we have always done throughout this pandemic, we have worked hard and creatively, and so on the day the stay-at-home orders were announced, with only a few hours’ notice, provision was very quickly made for additional Masses following 4:30 p.m. at 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. so that as many people as possible could attend Mass before the lockdown. Just as we did last year when they said you can only have 100 people in a church, we arranged for extra Masses. And people came along. They said if you have more than 100 people you must go outside. So we did. And people came along. They said we’re closing your churches. So, we took our faith to our homes, and we showed that whatever you may take away from us you will not take away our faith. And we did it again this year. We showed that our faith is not bound by the things of this world, but finds its life by the grace of almighty God and the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. We found ways to keep on going, and our parishioners, and parishioners from many other parishes, joined us and found a way to continue to practice the faith and to give a sense of hope to the world.
To continue this “Perimeter of Prayer, we had daily Mass on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel which allowed parishioners to continue to hear the Sacrifice of the Mass, to pray with the Church, and to see the church. In particular, thank you to John Portelli and Maryanne Takchi who arranged and recorded the hymns for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross so that we could celebrate these days with solemnity and to give honour to Our Blessed Mother and on our parish’s feast day.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was live-streamed each day so that we could continue to worship and adore Our Lord and to seek His grace and mercy.
There was the Holy Rosary every evening, as well as many times when we prayed the Rosary together by Zoom, with parishioners leading the decades.
“Walk 4 Mary”
We asked people to join in our “Walk 4 Mary”, asking parishioners to pray a decade of the Rosary whenever outside for a walk, and we placed the icon of Our Lady of Divine Love in the pews with the names of all families who joined us in this. The Church has always entrusted herself to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in times of trial. In A.D. 590, as Rome suffered a terrible plague, Pope Gregory the Great processed through the streets in prayer, carrying an image of Our Lady praying for protection and an end to the epidemic. 1,400 years later, we continued this noble tradition with our parish’s “Perimeter of Prayer”. Fr. Andrew travelled to the boundaries of the parish to bless the borders and to pray to Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Divine Love, for the protection of our parish. With this, we asked all households to place the icon of Our Lady of Divine Love in the windows of their homes and to pray daily the prayer of to Our Lady of Divine Love to protect the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
Holy Cross Novena
As we celebrated the Month of the Holy Cross, parishioners joined in recording the novena of the Holy Cross. For this we thank John Portelli, Joe Chidiac, Raphaella Chidiac, Reanne Chidiac, Lana Leatherby, Tanya Martin, Elias Sleiman, Andrew Takchi, Claudette Takchi, Maryanne Takchi, Chloe Zaiter and Richard Zaiter.
Stations of the Cross
Holy Cross Youth and parishioners recorded the Stations of the Cross so that we could pray together as a parish. Thank you to Sr. Maria, Elvis, Domonic Baini, Barry Bradbery, Dylan Boatswain, Joe Elias, Kay King, Ryan Magpayo, Jim Newell, John Portelli, Spiro Portelli, Robyn Rich, Rose Succar, Maryanne Takchi, Claudia Tiller, Rafael Tordilla and Annette Wirz.
Parish Trivia Night
For some fun, we organised an online Trivia Night to celebrate the close of Holy Cross Month, and for this we thank Rosette Chidiac, John Portelli, Claudette Takchi, Chloe Zaiter and Richard Zaiter.
Our Parish Schools and Children
With the schools, we had a weekly community prayer so that staff, students and parents could find ways to pray together. We also invited the students of our schools and the children of our parish to send us their drawings and colouring-in pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Parishioner Prayer Requests
We invited parishioners to send us their prayer requests so that we could share these with the parish and so that we could continue to support one another in prayer.
“Holy Cross Connects” And not only did we find many ways to continue our spiritual life, but also our mental health and physical well-being with “Holy Cross Connects.” Thank you to Rosette Chidiac, in particular, for her talk to the parish on mental health and ways which we could all adopt to help us throughout this time.
“Holy Cross Families”
We asked families to send video messages to the parish to encourage us and to tell us what they were doing through the lockdown, which we called “Holy Cross Families”. Thank you to those participated, including the Chidiac family and the Zaiter family.
“Holy Cross Youth”
Our parish youth group, Holy Cross Youth, prepared our “Saints of the Holy Cross” spotlighting those Saints who have an affiliation with the Cross.
Marian Self-Isolation Challenge
Chloe Zaiter, as she did last year with the Catholic Self-Isolation Challenge, arranged the Marian Self-Isolation Challenge with great activities to help us to better our love and devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
”St. Joseph’s Table”
We also continued our St. Joseph’s Table in honour of the Year of St. Joseph. With thanks for the generosity of parishioners, we were able to continue to provide groceries and other household items to families in need of support through this time.
Church Grounds and Cleaning
We thank, also, those who cleaned the grounds of the church and the church itself in preparation for opening again: Barry Bradbery, Spiro Portelli, Claudette Takchi and Moona Wehbe.
Thank you to those who prepared the piety shops: Claudette Takchi and Annette Wirz.
To John McIntyre, for all his work in looking after the parish bus and giving it a run each week to keep it in good working order.
Planned Giving and Donations
We owe our thanks to those who generously continued to give in support of the parish, either by dropping off their envelopes or making online donations. Also to all those who asked how they could make a donation and those who kept their envelopes going in readiness for the churches opening.
To all of those who participated in the life of the parish throughout this time, and to all those who contributed so much to make all that we did possible, we all owe our sincere thanks and gratitude. While many other places shut down, we did not. We forged ahead in faith and hope and found ways to keep it all going. In particular, thank you to John Portelli and Rosette Chidiac for their tremendous imagination and energetic work in bringing all this together. Their creativity in developing so many ways, and for speaking with co-ordinating parishioners in their involvement with different prayers and devotions, allowed us to participate and continue being involved in the life of the parish. Throughout this time, with so much emphasis on physical health and the well-being of the body, we worked hard to emphasise spiritual health and the well-being of the soul. The devotions, the prayers, the catechesis, the good works that we shared in these past few months were all the means to strengthen our souls, to give voice to our faith, to give encouragement and so hope. By these we found ways to keep on going. We said we wanted to be a sign of hope and faith, and so we sought ways to engage with our faith and with the community so that people could participate, in some way, in the worship of God, in the expression of faith, trusting always in Our Lord.