When the parishioners of one Parramatta Diocese parish responded to Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home”, little did they realise their parish garden would boost both body and spirit. Source: Catholic Outlook.
Since its inception last year, parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath, have found that through the garden, they are living out Pope Francis’ call for “pastoral creativity” – creating an opportunity to attract new members to the parish as well as feeding local people in need.
Developed as part of the parish’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan, the garden sits on what was previously under-utilised space next to the parish hall.
A group of 12 volunteers from both the parish and local community care for the garden each Wednesday and twice a month on a Saturday.
The garden is supported by donations from the parish, the Catholic Care Drop-In Centre in Springwood and the local men’s shed of both money and reused, recycled and reclaimed items such as hoses, manure and pavers.
Community garden team member Julie O’Keeffe said the parish has a strong St Vincent de Paul Society conference and when the charity meets with clients, they allow them to pick produce from the garden.
The garden also contributes food to the local Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre’s Food Bank, which offers fresh produce to their clients, as well as ingredients for their soup kitchen initiative with the Blackheath Uniting Church.
Garden team member Brian Bright said the garden had given parishioners the opportunity to evangelise.
“To quote Pope Francis, modern-day evangelisers must use ‘pastoral creativity to reach people where they live, not waiting for them to come, but where they live, discovering opportunities for listening, dialogue and encounter.’
“We’ve even been fortunate that through the garden, we have welcomed seven new parish members to our faith community, which is enriching to the parish in this post-COVID period,” he said.
Blackheath community garden grounded in faith (By Mary Brazell, Catholic Outlook)