Thanksgiving is the focus for Sacred Heart, as the parish prepares to celebrate their 150th anniversary with the Inverell community.
“It means a lot. It’s the light of faith that’s been handed down through generations,” Father Roel Llave said. He said the local Catholic community had been passing that light down before the Sacred Heart parish was even established.
Father Roel is keen to see the wider community take part in the parish’s simple but heartfelt celebrations.
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“The first Catholic church in Inverell was built with the help of everyone, including the non-Catholics, so it was really a community effort,” he said. He said the spirit of inclusiveness remains, and that “up to this day, that helping hand between Christian churches in Inverell is very present”.
“The Catholic church started not only with the Catholics, but within the whole community, so we are inviting everyone to come and celebrate with us,” he said.
The theme of ‘celebrate what we have been given’ is close to Father Roel’s heart, having come to Australia from the northern Philippines to continue sharing the faith Europeans and Australians brought to his country.
“We came here so we would be able to minister,” he said.
“I always say whatever we have, we could still be able to give – whatever little we have, we could still give.”
Coming from a third world country, he said, he knew “how it is” for many children who grow up without the privileges most Australians take for granted.
“Whenever we have children’s liturgy and the school mass, I try to share with them the things we have here that we need to be thankful for. In other places there are kids that can’t go to school because they don’t have transportation means to go, they walk for hours, barefoot. They have to cross rivers,” he said.
“But here children have shoes, uniforms, transportation…. Those simple things that at times we don’t see and appreciate because that’s everyday happening for us.”
“At least here we have the opportunity, we have the privilege. Let us make it our own, put importance in that and enable to help others through our daily living.”
This attitude is one Father Roel loves to see in the church, which supports many charitable causes. October is Sacred Heart’s mission month, and funds are being collected to go to Myanmar to help children go to school.
“We believe that education is a world that no one can take from you,” he said.
“True education, we believe that we empower people to be able to stand on their own after the difficulties that they have experienced.”
The 150th festivities begin with a picnic at the church following the 9am mass this Sunday. There will be a sausage sizzle lunch, games, a jumping castle and face painting. All are welcome, with a gold coin donation encouraged.
A walk through the old Catholic cemetery from 9am Saturday will explore the parish’s long history. Participants are asked to meet at the Inverell Cemetery carpark, wear walking shoes and bring a hat and water.
On Thursday Bishop Gerard Hanna will lead a mass that will include the renewal of vows for up to 16 local couples. An anniversary dinner will be held at 6.30pm at the RSM Club on Saturday, October 20, following a 5pm mass led by Bishop Michael Kennedy.
Tickets for the dinner are $35 each, available after mass this Sunday. There are no ticket sales on the night. Commemorative books, created by local historian Julie Regan, are available anytime at $20.