Welcome to our new ‘Faithful Servants’ series
…a new feature that will faithfully share and regularly feature the ever-present ‘servants of the faith’ across our local parish community.
We will begin this SPECIAL NEWSLETTER SERIES over the next few weeks, with a focus on each of our new Ministry Leaders
Today’s issues introduces Janice Chilcott and the work she aspires to achieve to bring service and comfort post pandemic.
Community Life, key to resilient recovery after COVID-19
When the coronavirus pandemic took hold four years ago, Janice Chilcott lost some of her weekly ‘Mass buddies’ at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish and felt overwhelmed and filled with worry about the safety and impact of the worldwide lockdown restrictions.
“I was concerned for their welfare but couldn’t contact them. I knew them only by their first name and had no means of contacting them,” said Janice, the newly appointed Community Life Ministry leader at the parish.
“Before restrictions, we chatted every week about our lives and then suddenly nothing! This concerned me.”
This is precisely what motivated Janice, an active parishioner at OLR for 16 years, to take up a new role in lay leadership in the parish.
“I noticed many missing faces after Covid restrictions were lifted and realised these persons must not have felt engaged or valued. I had a burning desire to overcome this,” she said.
Her impulse was to pour herself into community life, and to provide comfort and guidance to parishioners at this time, pushing aside her own fears.
“I believe strongly that a strong community can only exist if stakeholders believe they are valued and have a strong sense of belonging.
“Community life has greatly deteriorated post-Covid and this needs to addressed,” Janice added, deciding not to do anything ‘heroic’ but to nurture and support her own community.
Janice, who has recently retired as a teacher/librarian after 32 years of teaching across Brisbane Catholic Education schools, says she had made it her mission every day to become more involved in parish events providing hospitality and encouraging parishioners to socialise more; get to know each other and to invite them to be part of many of the parish groups like the OLR Craft Group or Women’s Prayer & Friendship group.
She has carved out more time for her family, spending time with her grandchildren at Golden Beach, and having more time for spiritual reflection. This has allowed her to recharge and see the challenges parishioners face with clearer eyes.
Janice, who was born and raised in Mackay, has a Maltese background and strong faith and family ties. She has always felt a link to God’s love and this has increased over time.
“I’m always exploring new ways to learn more about her faith,” she said. “I love to learn more to deepen my relationship with God. I try and keep up with daily reflections on the Gospel each day.”
The past four years have brought upheaval to every aspect of community life, and many parish communities have faced immense challenges in charting a course through the pandemic including finding ways to celebrate Mass remotely when gatherings became unsafe. As COVID-19 illnesses and deaths climbed, so did the emotional toll.
Janice has welcomed the new role as Community Life Ministry Leader and aspires to renew an emotional wellbeing among parishioners and make them feel like they belong and are valued across the parish.