Parishioners are seen during Easter Sunday Mass at Santa Sophia Catholic College, Box Hill. Image: Diocese of Parramatta
Parishioners in some of the newest suburbs in the Diocese of Parramatta were able to celebrate Easter Sunday Mass locally thanks to the recently opened Santa Sophia Catholic College, Box Hill.
The opening of the school’s performance space to the community for Mass meant the Box Hill and Gables communities could take their place in celebrating alongside parishes across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains in the joy of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, 17 April.
For some parishioners, the school’s desire to open to the community in this way is literally an answer to their prayers.
Parishioner Ehny Velasco, who has been living in The Gables for three years, said that one of her earliest desires in moving to the area was to be able to celebrate Mass locally.
Our Lady of the Angels Parish Rouse Hill parishioner Ehny Velasco (left) sings as part of the choir for Easter Sunday Mass at Santa Sophia Catholic College, Box Hill. Image: Diocese of Parramatta
“I petitioned to the developers of the estate to have a Mass here, to have church, and this is the best thing that could happen for me personally,” she said.
“It’s quite good for the community, it’s a budding, young community. It’s a good mix of different cultures and different ages. We’ve got a good community spirit here.
“Easter is the most meaningful of all the events in the world because it shows that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again.”
Celebrating Mass at the school campus is a relatively new initiative, Chris Hayman, Leader of Formation and Mission at the College told Catholic Outlook, but one they are looking to develop further.
“We are truly blessed to have a strong connection with the parish community of Our Lady of the Angelus Rouse Hill, including [parish priest] Fr Carlos Walker IVE and Fr Omar Mazzega IVE,” he said.
“As many staff and students belong to the parish, our College has recognised the importance of supporting the parish in providing the facilities for the emerging Box Hill community to celebrate Mass.”
Easter Mass was celebrated by Fr Omar Mazzega IVE, assistant parish priest at the nearby Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill.
During his homily, Fr Omar explained that the message of Christ’s Resurrection is the most important announcement in all of history and that we need to bear witness to it in our lives today.
Our Lady of the Angels Parish Rouse Hill assistant priest Fr Omar Mazzega IVE speaks during Easter Sunday Mass at Santa Sophia Catholic College, Box Hill. Image: Diocese of Parramatta
“As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, quoting St Paul, ‘if Christ had not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain’.
“St Paul said, we ‘have died with Christ’ and we believe we shall ‘live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him’. This means sharing in the suffering of Christ, which is a prelude to that full unity with him through the resurrection that we hope for.”
Fr Omar also explained that the baptism of eight new members of the faith in the parish community during the Easter Vigil was a fruit of the Resurrection of Christ.
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too might live in newness of life,” he said.
Rouse Hill parishioner Karen and her family attended Mass at the College and told Catholic Outlook that it was really nice to see so many people at Mass.
“Easter is very special for my family, it’s something we make sure we attend every year,” she said.
“This year, my youngest son is doing his Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in the coming months, and we’ve been really involved in being a part of and building the community here at Box Hill.
“We try and help every week and teaching our kids what it’s like to be part of the parish, to volunteer, to be helpful and to give back.”
Parishioners are seen in prayer during Easter Sunday Mass at Santa Sophia Catholic College, Box Hill. Image: Diocese of Parramatta
In describing the emphasis the school placed on the preparations for Easter, Chris said that an Easter focus will continue into Term 2 to reflect the Season of Eastertide.
“The Paschal Mystery is central to my life and mission as a Leader in Catholic Education,” he explained.
“While 2022 has already had many highlights, Easter offers the possibility for real joy even amidst the personal and professional ‘crosses’ or difficulties that many of us have experienced this term.
“Easter reminds me that all suffering can have meaning and be made glorious to the extent that we are united to the Risen Christ.”