Sydney-siders or those visiting Sydney later this month will have the opportunity to participate in the popular Advent Festival of Readings and Songs hosted by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in their Mount St Benedict Centre Chapel, Pennant Hills.
The afternoon festival, which first began over 20 years ago and has been held almost every year since, continues to attract a strong gathering of people from different walks of life keen to usher in the Church’s four-week season of Advent, said Sister Elizabeth Brennan, Mount St Benedict Centre’s Director.
“It has good support. We have about 130, 140 people come, which is a packed chapel for us.”
Over the years the Sisters have received “a lot of feedback” about the Festival.
“Generally, people just love it, they appreciate it,” said Elizabeth.
“I suppose it’s the spirituality of it that touches hearts. The Festival nourishes people’s spirits; it’s also a different type of liturgy – it’s not Mass and it’s not reconciliation. With its scriptural and contemporary readings, its song, its colour and liturgical movement, it attempts to speak to the various senses and has a lovely freshness about it.”
In more recent years, the Sisters have also been “very well supported” by the John Paul Singers, a group of accomplished musicians established in the 1980s by the late Brother Colin Smith.
“The Sisters used to provide the schola and lead the singing. Well we can’t do that as well now, so the John Paul Singers give us their services every year,” explained Elizabeth.
“I find it extraordinary that these people contribute to this in the midst of their busy lives.”
Elizabeth described the John Paul Singers’ contribution to the Festival as “fabulous”, acknowledging that it was essential for the Festival’s future.
“We could not sustain it ourselves without their support,” she said.
Many who attend the Advent Festival are “regulars” and include people from parishes (both Catholic and other Christian denominations) from surrounding districts, as well as Good Samaritan Sisters and Oblates, and their colleagues, friends and relatives.
Susie Gates, an Oblate from Sydney, is one of those regulars. She’s been attending the Festival for the past five years and will be attending this year, too.
“It’s just so beautiful and uplifting, and it’s a wonderful way to start Advent, that whole season of joyful anticipation,” she said.
“The readings are always beautiful and I love the singing. The music has always been superb.”
For Susie, the Festival also provides “a wonderful spirit of fellowship”.
“Everybody’s there for the same reason, obviously, and many of them are people who come back year after year, same as I do, because it’s such a beautiful experience – one not to be missed,” she said.
Susie is grateful to the Sisters for hosting the experience: “I just think they’re wonderful to have it and long may it continue, please God!”
The 2016 Advent Festival will be held on November 27 at 4:30pm. Afternoon tea will be served from 3:30pm. Entry is by a donation to the Good Samaritan Sisters’ ministries in Kiribati.
Bookings are essential for catering purposes. Please phone (02) 9484 6208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday November 21, 2016.