Listen: Hope Afternoon's Ben McEachen chats with Mt Druitt Coptic Orthodox priest Antonios Kaldas about how his church is serving its local community during lockdown
How have our churches been helping local communities during lockdown and what lessons have they been learning? Hope Afternoons has interviewed church leaders across Greater Sydney to find out how God’s people are loving their neighbours, and each Sunday and Wednesday throughout October we are sharing what they had to say.
Father Antonios Kaldas is parish priest at Archangel Michael and Saint Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church, Mount Druitt.
Fr Antonios, what has your church learned during lockdown?
“It’s made us all step back and reflect a little bit more on what it means to be a church and what it means to be a Christian.”
“We have just generally gone about our habits and routines, and this has kind of shaken us up, hasn’t it?
“It’s made us really think, ‘What matters? What’s really important? What are we really trying to do?’ And are there ways we can come into the presence of God when we can’t come together and feel God’s presence among each other?
“In the Orthodox tradition, in the Coptic church particularly, we’ve always had this idea of retreating for awhile from the world – for silence, peace and reflection. To feel the presence of God away from the noise of the world. Much like [Old Testament prophet] Elijah in the cave when he heard the still, small voice of God [see 1 Kings 19:11-13].
“I think this has been the opportunity for people to do that…”
How has your church been helping its community during the pandemic?
“A lot of people have been just reaching out to each other with phone calls and things like that. People have been sending little survival packs to each other in the mail, which is very sweet.
“A lot of the communal things we used to do are now happening in two dimensions instead of three. We still have our masses and prayer services but, of course, we can only have three or people actually in the church – we just stream it live. That’s definitely not as good but it is making us appreciate [meeting in-person] more.
“We have a few people who are doing things like tutoring for disadvantaged kids and some go out and give food and clothing to the homeless in Mount Druitt. Thankfully, they’ve still be able to keep going with that; obviously, observing very careful precautions.
“They are the forgotten people, aren’t they? All the rules are for the people living in houses and who have jobs and stuff – but we forget there are other people affected and in danger out there. They need to be supported; we can’t stop supporting them just because COVID is around.”
Can you offer us a word of encouragement?
“The verse I’ve been thinking about the most is ‘all things work together for the good of all those who love God’ (see Romans 8:28). We have very little control about a lot of things in this life and if we pin our happiness on controlling the world, I don’t think we’ll ever be happy.”
“But if instead we pin our happiness on finding the good in whatever happens to come to us – and remembering that it all comes from the hand of a loving, kind God. I think that is where we find the peace and happiness we all crave.”
Fr Antonios’ prayer
Please pray with Fr Antonios.
“We have a very old, traditional prayer in the Coptic Church called ‘The Prayer of Thanksgiving’ and this is a little passage from it, just reminding us there is a lot to be thankful for in every day and every moment of our lives.”
We thank you for everything, concerning everything, and in everything,
for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us to Yourself,
spared us, supported us, and have brought us to this hour.
Also in the ‘Greater Sydney Church Leaders Series’
- How the Salvation Army Church is Helping Their Community
- How C3 Sydney is Helping Their Community
- How the Baptist Church is Helping Their Community
- How the Uniting Church is Helping Their Community
- How Australian Christian Churches is Helping Their Community
- How the Anglican Church is Helping Their Community
- How Greater West for Christ is Helping Their Community