With up to 150 people now able to attend Mass in person at churches throughout Victoria, Fr Andrew Jekot, parish priest of St Mary of the Cross Catholic Parish, Mordialloc and Aspendale, shared how his parish is looking forward to making this an especially joyful and holy Advent season for parishioners.

‘There will be a 6pm Christmas family Mass outdoors on the St Louis Aspendale school oval and a working group is looking at the logistics behind this and making it COVID-safe,’ he says.

‘The remaining traditional Masses will be offered in the church, but the numbers will be restricted according to the COVID guidelines.’

The parish has two Mass centres: St Louis de Montfort, Aspendale and St Brigid’s, Mordialloc. For parishioners who may not be able to come to Mass due to restrictions and government health guidelines, Fr Jekot is also offering an online Mass.

‘As most people who normally attend Mass won’t have an opportunity to attend, I would like to offer a quality recording for a Christmas Mass experience,’ he says.

The parish liturgy team and pastoral council have encountered all the expected challenges during this time of COVID such as limitations with venue capacity. ‘Due to the limited numbers, booking in will be essential,’ he says, and like many other parishes, they will be using Trybooking to manage attendance safely.

‘We have a school hall that may be a back-up plan but at this stage, but hopefully we won’t need it. Capacity is 100, so we’d have to discern which of the possible 500 outdoor bookings get a look in for the 100 spots.’

In saying this, Fr Jekot remains positive about his parish Christmas Mass plans. ‘I want it to be festive, joyful and hopeful,’ Fr Jekot says.

‘I don’t want it to be a "COVID Christmas" but "the Christmas that we are having in 2020".’

Fr Jekot shares that he is also looking forward to time with his family on Christmas Day and a short break after a very busy year. ‘It has been the most unique year of being flexible and adaptable, surrounded by parishioners especially the parish pastoral council, who have been so supportive.’