‘Corpus Christi’ comes from the ancient Latin language and means ‘Body of Christ’. Right there in our name is our challenge; to strive to be a community of Christ’s presence and action here and now in our world.
Corpus Christi Cranebrook is a Christian faith community in the Catholic tradition of worship, sacraments, understanding and teaching. There are however, quite a number of people who regularly worship at Corpus Christi who are not Catholic. We hope Corpus Christi can be a place where people of a variety of spiritual backgrounds can feel at home as well as people who are trying once again to connect to a faith community.
Corpus Christi is a ‘not for profit’, self–funding Church community. All expenses, pastoral team wages, charitable works, outreach costs and ministries are made possible by the voluntary sharing and common care of members. Corpus Christi is part of the wider diocese of Parramatta and assists with special works of care across the wider area of western Sydney and for specific overseas needs.
We have a parish primary school onsite serving families with children in Kindergarten to Year 6. We also have the Year 7–12 co–educational high school, Xavier College, up the road on Ninth Avenue Llandilo. You can follow the links from this web-site to our schools.
HISTORY OF CORPUS CHRISTI
Cranebrook was until the late 70s and 80s, mainly farm blocks and part of St Nicholas of Myra, Penrith. At the beginning of 1982 the Mercy Sisters began their outreach work in the new area setting up open house in Seaton Crescent working with the youth and helping families. They moved on in 1988 after contributing a wonderful ministry.
Late in 1982, 35 adults and 52 children attended the first Mass which was celebrated at Braddock Primary School. A community breakfast at the home of Geoff and Francis Barratt, often followed.
In 1985, a Redemptorist, Rev Tom Ryan, was appointed by Rev John Grady to care for this new community. 1987 saw the arrival of the Franciscan Friars. This was a new stage in the growth of Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi Parish Centre was opened in June 1987. During the five years of their ministry the friars worked at establishing Corpus Christi in order that it could become a parish in its own right.
They developed a deep sense of care and belonging in the small but growing community and Parish status was achieved on February 1, 1992 when Rev Wim Hoekstra was appointed parish priest and remained until 1997 when he moved to Penrith parish. Wim’s photographic memory for names and ability to ‘go with the flow’ in a new, young parish, set a solid standard for his successors!
In 1992, the Loreto Sisters joined the parish, with Sr Maria Welch becoming Pastoral Associate for the next seven years, assisted by Ms Sue Casey, a lay Franciscan. Both contributed enormously to the community spirit of the new parish along with foundation secretary, Clare Debono, and voluntary Loreto Sister, Sr Eileen Riley. (Sr Maria died in Qld in 2006 after a battle with motor neurone disease.)
Rev Paul Roberts (who had filled in for Fr Wim whilst he was temporarily called to Mt Druitt 1995–1996) was appointed parish priest in 1997 and Sr Rita Fitt, a very gifted and energetic Good Samaritan Sister was our associate from 1999 to 2004. The commitment and local knowledge of our Parish Secretary, Mrs Marie Cottee, since 2000, greatly assisted in the gap left after Sr Rita moved on. After a long search with overstretched staffing and during the same period when Fr Paul was appointed additionally as Vocation Director for the Diocese, the parish looks forward to welcoming Josephite Sister Merylin Browne from February 2007.
The parish has two schools; a large, vibrant primary school of 600 students as well as Xavier College, a co–educational high school located nearby, which saw its first group complete the HSC in 2003. 2004 was a big year for Xavier College moving to its permanent site in Ninth Avenue Llandilo, having lived its first five years in temporary accommodation on the parish site. Mrs Patricia Maidens, dynamic foundation and continuing principal, was supported by Mr Glenn Trefoni, foundation assistant principal until late 2005 when he was appointed to McCarthy College. Glenn’s contribution will remain a special part of the fabric of our Parish High School’s history.
Our committed band of Catechists visit around 500 students per week in five surrounding State Schools. Senior students from Xavier College and St Dominic’s College are vibrantly involved in Catechetics teaching in two of these schools. As at the close of 2006, Mr Greg Thomas has been our Parish Primary School Principal for four years following the wise and long leadership of Mrs Mary Cook and foundation principal, Mercy Sister, Sr Mary Lorraine.
Parish worshipping levels took a boost from an average of 460 each week in 1996 to 750 in 2000. This level has thankfully held up at this rate until now in a time when some places have experienced decline. This is largely due to the blessing of the presence of young people choosing to commit to being part of the faith community.
We frequently give thanks for the active participation of people from every age grouping across the whole span of life stages and delight in the many friendships forged between older and younger members of our parish. At the same time, the current Pastoral Council is deeply aware that so many in our suburbs do not have a place of rightful belonging in the Church and is reflecting seriously upon ways of creating an increased sense of encouragement and welcome.
The parish has significantly developed and deepened its understanding of and practical support of ‘mission’ in recent years and in a variety of expressions. Among the insight received from a recent parish survey was the practical faith/life motivation that many parishioners find in the parish mission statement we say together at the close of each weekend Mass and from which we judge all parish initiatives and activities:
“We, the people of Corpus Christi, seek to grow in living a Christ–centred mission, sharing our gifts to foster welcome, justice and community in today’s world.”
We have a simple and supportive baptism programme for parents with babies or young children. It involves presenting the child to the community at a given Mass time and meeting after to chat with other parents as well as the baptising priest and completing necessary paper work so that a certificate can be prepared and the details entered into the baptism register.
It is hoped that this simple approach will help parents feel welcome, especially where they may have not had recent experience of the Church or who may be new to this community. The baptism of a child is often a great chance for parents to experience a real renewal in their own faith and connection.
For adults, we run the RCIA programme (stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is for baptism etc of adults or sometimes just confirmation if they've already been baptised in another Christian Church then decide to be Catholic. RCIA runs discussions/sharing etc from about September and leads to Easter. During the process, people decide if they wish to proceed and each has a supportive ‘sponsor’ who becomes part of the group. RCIA becomes like a little community in itself.
SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION
Sacraments of Initiation for children happens with a combination of home groups, for which we seek and train leaders, but as well, through parent only nights where we try to assist the parents' growth in faith so that they feel more natural and confident to help their kids grow in faith. We always try to emphasise that faith and sacraments are a whole, ongoing journey... it's about continuing to grow in applying faith and the Gospel to real life.
SACRAMENTS AT CORPUS CHRISTI
At Corpus Christi, we don’t settle for faith and sacraments just being seen to be for kids. Rather, it’s a community in which hundreds of adults experience connection, belonging and relevance for the real stuff of their lives!
As well as these programmes, Fr Chris spends time working with individuals, supporting them in their issues and in their faith… and some of this is personal preparation for them to receive the Sacraments. So, whilst there are programmes and groups for each step, there is always a personal dimension of support and preparation available too.