Inspiring Liturgy weekend in Cowra

From near and far, across three dioceses, over 100 participants gathered in Cowra on the weekend of 24th and 25th May for a special experience of liturgy in the life of the Church.

As part of the wider 125th parish anniversary celebrations, this event involved long-term planning and preparation; extensive logistical arrangements; the goodwill of presenters and participants alike; and an enormous leap of faith by all connected with the organisation.

From the Opening Prayer to the Concluding Liturgy the theme of the weekend echoed the story of Bartimaeus from the Gospel of Mark: “Take courage, get up, He is calling you.” Courage is required to follow Jesus and courage was evident in all aspects of this experience in Cowra.

The generosity of the presenters was evident in their willingness to accept the invitation to travel, some enormous distances, to share their faith and talents with those who attended. There were similar examples of generosity shown by many parishioners of St. Raphael’s who opened their home to visitors, making it possible for the weekend to be available to all.

The weekend began with a Sacred Concert featuring Monica Brown in St. Raphael’s Church on Friday evening, setting the scene for a dynamic experience of liturgy. The following two days of informative talks, presentations and practical sessions opened up possibilities for looking at liturgy in new and different ways as well as how to enrich liturgy with a wide range of resources.

In each of the five sessions planned over Saturday and Sunday, there were four possible options for participants to choose. With such a wealth of choices, it was not possible to enjoy all of the experiences on offer.

Guest presenters included:

Sister Ann Morrison: Sunday Worship in the Absence of a Priest
Matt Ransom: Children’s Liturgy of the Word
Sister Ann-Maree O’Beirne: Music and Technology
Brother Paul Skippen: Celebrate often and Celebrate well
Sister Michelle Connolly: How to read New Testament Gospels
Patrick Nesbit: Using Liturgy Help to prepare Liturgy
David Nelson: Preparing Liturgy and Forming Ministers
Margaret Stewart:  Supporting Liturgy with floral arrangements
Lesley Zickefoose & Sue Rolls: Liturgical Banners
Paul Dunn: Psalms to enhance Liturgy

and of course the talent and wisdom of Monica Brown and Father Laurie Beath.

There was an air of enthusiasm around all of the sessions and much discussion about the possibilities in parishes as well as the further potential for input at other events. 

Brother Paul Skippen created excitement among educators with his insights into making liturgy meaningful and generous when working with young people as well as parish groups. He promises to be a welcome visitor to our Diocese again. 

Sister Michelle Connolly is an inspiring presenter. Her insights into breaking open the Gospels left her audiences asking for more. Patrick Nesbit flew from Hobart to enlighten those present about Liturgy Help and its enormous possibilities in a wide range of applications. All the presenters left at the end of the weekend having imparted a sense of confidence to those who came seeking greater understanding of all aspects of liturgy.

While nourishment of faith was in abundance, plentiful food warmed and sustained the conference participants. Grateful thanks goes to the catering team of Peta Bischof, Michelle McNaught and helpers. The Conference Dinner was a triumph of fellowship and fine food and the supply of coffee, tea and treats was never ending. Thanks also to the many parishioners who cooked for the visitors.

Most especially congratulations to the planning team who put the conference program together over many months: Dawn Smith, David Nelson and Father Laurie Beath. They were assisted by Jenny Waters, Robyn Lynch and Kylie McNamara and the members of the Parish Pastoral Council. The Catholic Development Fund generously supported the conference which was also supported by Cowra Shire Council.

Parishes which are some distance from main centres often find it difficult to find and gain access to contemporary faith learning. The Liturgy Conference in Cowra, hosted by St. Raphael’s Parish, provided a rare and exciting opportunity for members of the faithful from Bathurst, Wilcannia-Forbes and Canberra-Goulburn Diocese to share in some inspiring insights of how liturgy can be transforming and enhance the journey in faith.

Sue Whiteley, Cowra

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