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Recent Updates

Dear Friends and Colleagues

With the announcement on Wednesday that the lockdown of Greater Sydney would be extended by another week, our Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) continues to keep a close eye on the situation state-wide to ensure that, as a Parish, we remain vigilant and ready to meet any challenges that lie ahead.

Locally, we must continue to do all we can to minimise the chance of an outbreak by continuing with these COVID protocols:

  • Follow social distancing (allow 1.5m between people)
  • Abide by the 1 person per 4sqm rule when indoors (other than residential settings)
  • Maintain good hygiene practices (washing and sanitizing hands, no shaking hands or hugging)
  • Wear masks in non-residential settings
  • Stay at home if you are sick or have travelled to any COVID hotspots
  • Get tested if you are displaying any COVID symptoms
  • Check-in and use QR codes when visiting our offices, external venues and businesses around town.

Entering Parish Sites
QR Codes will become compulsory across the state from this Monday 12 July. As a result, QR codes will be available at all Parish sites. Every staff member, visitor and contractor with a mobile phone must check in using the QR codes before entering the site. If you do not have a mobile phone you must provide your contact details in writing before entering.

You may also be asked about your recent travel history, and/or be required to undergo a temperature check before entering.

CIMT is monitoring the NSW Health COVID updates to stay abreast of any health directives that may need to be implemented in Parish services. In line with the latest NSW Health Order, the following measures are in place:

Our Residential Care Services
All staff, visitors and volunteers must wear a surgical mask, only two visitors per resident are allowed per day and visits should take place in the resident’s room. Additionally, no visitors are permitted from Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour). A booking system is now in place for visitors.

Our Early Education and Schools
All visitors to our early education centres are required to wear masks, sanitise, observe social distancing and to check in before entering.

Advice about students returning to our Schools for Term 3 will come from the Catholic Schools Office in Lismore and Principals will distribute it to parents/guardians by the usual channels as soon as it comes to hand.

Our Mission
All attendees at Mass must wear masks and singing is not permitted. It is a return to the one person for every 4sqm rule and total attendance at St Agnes’ Church is capped at 100. We may also return to a booking system for Mass and will notify Parishioners if this becomes the case.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the latest outbreak and the health workers who are treating and testing for COVID-19. We pray also for the physical and mental health of individuals, families, businesses, and communities that may be struggling to cope with COVID restrictions and lockdown. If you know someone who may be on their own, give them a call to see how they are going.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.


Adam Spencer, Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has been a while since I have had to write to you regarding COVID-19 and our community has been through a lot since that last communication. However given the recent spread of COVID-19 throughout NSW, albeit mainly affecting the greater Sydney area and surrounds, there are health directives now in place that affect us.

It is timely to remind ourselves of the practices that have kept us healthy and safe during COVID last year. These include social distancing, good hygiene practices (washing and sanitising hands, no shaking hands or hugging) and the wearing of masks. People are advised to stay at home if displaying any COVID-19 symptoms such as a sore throat and/or high temperatures. Similarly, staff and visitors who have recently travelled to COVID-19 hotspots must stay at home. The latest list of hotspots can be viewed here.

Upon entering Parish services you may be asked about your recent travel history, be required to undergo a temperature check before entering and provide your contact details either in writing or scanning a QR code using your phone.

In line with the most recent NSW Health Order, restrictions across Parish services are as follows:

Our residential care services
All staff, visitors and volunteers must wear a surgical mask, only two visitors per resident are allowed per day and visits should take place in the resident’s room. Additionally, no visitors are permitted from Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour). A return to a booking system for visitors is underway.

Our early education and schools
All visitors to our early education centres are required to wear masks, sanitise and observe social distancing before entering. Our schools are currently closed for the holidays.

Our Mission
All attendees at Mass must wear masks and singing is not permitted. It is a return to the one person for every four square metres rule and total attendance at Mass is capped at 100. We may also return to a booking system for Mass and will notify Parishioners if this becomes the case.

Thank you for your support and commitment to keeping our community safe. Hopefully these restrictions will only be in force over the next two weeks and we can return to some semblance of normal.


Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Like you, I was hopeful that COVID-19 was not going to raise its head again this year, especially this close to Christmas. However the most recent outbreak that emerged from Sydney’s northern beaches requires us to respond quickly to protect the lives of those we care for across St Agnes’ Catholic Parish.

The Parish’s Critical Incident Management Team reconvened yesterday to determine what we should be doing across our services to address the latest outbreak.  Firstly we must all be reminded of the importance of social distancing, good hygiene practices (sanitising hands, wearing masks), and staying at home if displaying any COVID-19 symptoms such as a sore throat and/or high temperatures. I would also refer you to the list of COVID-19 hotspots that is updated daily by NSW Health and should be consulted if travelling to and from our local area. The list can be viewed by clicking here.

Here is an update of what we are doing across Parish services areas:

Our aged care and disability services
We were directed by NSW Health to close our residential aged care services to any visitors and cancel outings until Wednesday 23 December. Click here to read our correspondence to residents and families informing them of this directive. By Wednesday, we expect to receive more information regarding COVID-19 guidelines over Christmas and the New Year’s period. Aged care and NDIS staff are required to wear masks while caring for clients and while we have adequate protective equipment at present, we are ordering more stock to ensure we have an adequate supply into the future.

Our schools and early education services
Schools have closed for the holidays and our early education services will close on 23 December, reopening on 4 January. Our early education centres are still observing COVID-19 protocols in the lead-up to their closure, however we are reminding parents and staff to be especially vigilant over the next few days.

Our Mission
Our Christmas Mass times are still current and the requirements of one person every two square metres at Church services still apply. We will keep you updated if there is any changes to Mass times or social distancing between now and Christmas. Additionally, we are still providing Christmas hampers to those in need – please call the Presbytery 6583 1024 for help in this regard.

There is no doubt we would have preferred to end 2020 without any COVID-19 restrictions. However if we have learnt anything from this year it is to remain vigilant and treat every outbreak seriously. I know that we are more prepared and more resilient than ever to deal with this latest challenge and we will get through it together.

I wish you and your family a safe and holy Christmas.


Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

In my last update I spoke about an “abundance of caution” in the Parish’s response to COVID-19. In line with this, discussions in our most recent Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) meetings have shifted firmly to our local context. Specifically, we have considered two main questions at a much deeper level; How do we continue our success in ensuring that our services remain COVID-free? and; If the worse does happen and we get a positive COVID-19 result in one of our services, how do we immediately respond?

In considering these questions we are drawing on our own expertise, government advice as well as careful analysis of other outbreaks. It has been evident in other outbreaks that behaviours were crucial in limiting the spread of the virus, particularly in relation to travel. Therefore, I have communicated to staff the importance of limiting unnecessary travel to hotspot and at-risk areas designated by NSW Health.

A list of these areas is updated daily by NSW Health and should be consulted prior to travelling to and from our local area. The list can be viewed by clicking here. The website provides a list of:

  • Local Government Areas (LGAs) where there is increased COVID-19 testing. If you have visited these areas, advice is to get tested
  • Specific NSW locations that have had positive COVID-19 cases, which if you have visited, you will need to isolate for 14 days and get tested
  • NSW suburbs, which if you have visited, watch for COVID-19 symptoms

Switching now to the second question of how to respond if we are faced with an outbreak. To ensure we are best prepared for this, the CIMT has established a Rapid Response Team (RRT) that will mobilise quickly and effectively, and engage all relevant parts of the Parish.

The RRT comprises representatives across all service areas of the Parish, as well as support areas such as property, IT and communications. The plan supporting the RRT documents roles, tasks, communications and actions. In order to test this plan, we are conducting ‘scenario training’ this week to test our response to a COVID-19 outbreak. This exercise will provide useful learnings for all of us and is another important step in keeping everyone safe.

This is a difficult phase of the pandemic because on one hand, general activities continue to return to some semblance of normal, however on the other hand there is a great deal of anxiety and concern about community transmission. As individuals, this leaves us balancing a return to some normal behaviours whilst ensuring that, more than ever, we must continue to educate and remind ourselves about behaviours and practices that limit the spread of COVID-19 to ultimately protect the health and lives of those we care for.

Thank you for your continued support and everything you are doing to look after our community.


Adam Spencer, Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

As events continue to unfold across Victoria, in Sydney and sections of Queensland to deal with a growing COVID-19 crisis, we must remain vigilant and ensure we are prepared for any local impact that may occur.

As I have stated from the start of COVID-19, our commitment as a Parish should be to respond to this crisis with the highest possible standard of vigilance.  Recently, politicians have been using the phrase “an abundance of caution” and, as we enter this new phase of COVID, I think that this concept should indeed characterise our response. We know that as an organisation we look after some of the most vulnerable in our community and this is a collective responsibility for all of us, whether we work with the vulnerable directly or not.

At the time of writing, we have not had any positive COVID-19 cases in the Mid North Coast district for 100 days.  This is good news, but it is certainly not the time for any complacency.  For months, we have heard about the importance of social distancing, good hygiene practices and staying at home if displaying any COVID-19 symptoms, but it seems in the current environment this is not enough and we will begin to see additional requirements put in place.

Staff and residents in our aged care services are particularly at risk, which is evident in some of the harrowing stories of COVID-19’s impact on aged care in Victoria.

To ensure we are as prepared as we can be, we do have COVID-19 plans in place and will continue to work hard at doing more across all our services.  Therefore, you will begin to see face masks and temperature readings become mandatory at Mass.  You may be asked additional questions or need to provide more details when you enter one of our buildings.  Staff may be required to be involved in more COVID-related training.  Whatever it may be, please know that our objective is to keep our people safe and that I seek your full participation as required.

As always, I thank you for your commitment to your work, our residents, families, clients and colleagues and for everything you are doing to keep our community safe.  While it seems the road to overcoming COVID-19 is long, we are all travelling it together.


Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Just when it appeared the state was on track to head back to some sort of normality, the number of COVID-19 cases dramatically increased in Victoria and in hotspots identified in Sydney as well.

Subsequently our Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) reconvened on Friday to ensure that, as a Parish, we remain vigilant in watching these events and prepare a preemptive response. Practically speaking, watching infection rates rise demonstrates that we must be ever vigilant when it comes to the virus. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by the new outbreak, including staff who are treating and testing for COVID-19. We pray that individuals can recover as soon as possible physically and mentally, and we also pray for the entire community including the businesses that are struggling to cope.

Locally, we must continue to do all we can by continuing to follow social distancing and optimal hygiene practices, including staying at home if you are sick, to minimise any chance of an outbreak. There are currently 40 Aged Care homes in Victoria that have now had outbreaks and many of these were instigated by staff going to work unwell. This indeed is a sobering reminding of the possible impacts of ignoring symptoms. I cannot stress how important it is, particularly in Aged Care, to stay away if you are unwell.

As mentioned, CIMT continues to meet to discuss and action issues. Additionally, any COVID-19-related issues are being addressed at the weekly meetings of the Parish Leaders Team Executive.

Here is an update across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
We are mandating hyper-vigilance in Aged Care and I would like to thank residents, their families and staff for understanding this approach. All residents and their families were sent information last week regarding new restrictions on visits to our residential services. These are similar to previous arrangements where visitors must pre-book appointments with residents, have temperature readings and confirm any visits to hot spot areas. Click here to read this communication.

Our early education and schools
Our early education services have sanitisation stations provided at entry points which all visitors must use. We have noted some instances where families in the usual morning rush omit this step on entry to facilities so we have created more prompts and signage to remind even the busiest of families that sanitisation on entry is a must. Schools have returned for Term 3 and have reiterated social distancing and hygiene practices that previously existed however, a new distinction is that staff and students must indicate any recent visits to Victoria and other hotspot areas.

Our people
The past month has seen staff that were working from home gradually come back to onsite work. Our IT team has been very helpful in ensuring this occurs as smoothly as possible. Mental health and wellbeing is key over this period especially with the uncertainty associated with any potential future lockdowns.

Please check in with your family and colleagues regularly to ensure they are coping.

Our mission
Mass continues to be held at Christ the King Chapel until renovations on the Church are completed. Fr Paul has proposed a new list of Mass times, which can be viewed here. We are continuing to deliver packages to those that come to us in need. Please let people know we are here to help. Also if you would like to support those in need during this pandemic, you can donate at the Parish website at:

As I have said from the start, I am so very proud and grateful of the way we have managed COVID-19 since the pandemic began, especially when you see the impact COVID-19 has had on other communities particularly across aged care services and schools. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to protect our community and those for which we care.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.


Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With cases of COVID-19 consistently declining over the past few weeks, there has been a shift in focus on a return to ‘normal’. Thank you to everyone who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 shutdown and are showing the same level of commitment as we move to a likeness of what our world looked like before COVID-19. The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) has moved from meeting three times per week to once per week over this time and are communicating on COVID-19-related issues as required and to specific audiences. As such, future communiques will become less frequent.

However with the return to normal and with COVID-19 not totally eradicated, we will still need to include a balance of behaviour that reduces any chance of another wave of the virus. Here is an update of what this means for our services across the Parish:

Our aged care and disability services
The Government recently confirmed that staff in aged care and disability services are now exempt from social distancing requirements. Each of our teams are working through these changes and what it means for residents and participants. Additionally, our managers across these services are continuing to put plans in place in case of any possible COVID-19 outbreaks in the future. It was great to see that the Youth Hub has reopened this week.

Our early education services and schools
The details of Government subsidies for child care payments, for families, will be finalised next month. Both our primary and secondary schools are now operating under the pre-COVID educational model and have done so since 9 June. It is helpful that Catholic Schools NSW has issued guidelines for schools in regards to infection control, visitors, meetings and recommencing of sporting and other activities to minimise any possibility of future COVID-19 outbreak and transmission. The Uniform Store has returned to regular operating hours and The Francis Retreat has reopened as well.

Our people
As increased numbers of people return to work and engage in social activities, some workers and volunteers may be more vulnerable to the risk of COVID-19 than others. Click here to see the Government’s definition of vulnerable workers. From a volunteers’ perspective we are currently working on what this definition means for them. We expect to be communicating with our volunteers on this issue within the near future.

Our Mission
With St Agnes’ Church still being renovated, Mass has returned at Christ the King Chapel in Boronia Street. There are still social distancing requirements for these Masses as the Chapel can only hold limited numbers. If you would like to attend Mass please book in advance. The procedures for booking can be found on our website by clicking here. My sincerest thanks goes to everyone who has supported our COVID-19 appeal with donations allowing for further care packages to be delivered to those in need. If you would like to donate you can do so via this weblink.

Thank you for your commitment in this next stage of our return to normal. Please continue to take care of yourself and each other.


Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

With the prevalence of COVID-19 cases the lowest they have been since it began, you would have noticed the shift in focus from both Federal and State governments to encourage people to begin to return to normal life in a staged and cautious manner, whether it is to work, school or social activities. I think that we are all very eager to return to some sort of normality as soon as practicable.

Before I outline the Parish plans for a return to the office for those staff still working from home, I would firstly like to pay tribute to all our staff across aged care services, home care services, disability services, property services, our Presbytery and in early education that have been living their own ‘version of normal’ every day throughout the challenges presented by COVID-19. They have shown a level of commitment and resilience that is the envy of any organisation and I thank you all.

In the last couple of days, Fr Paul had released some updated information regarding a return to Church services. Broadly, public masses are still not permitted however other restrictions are being slowly lifted and you can read more details about these restrictions here or contact the Presbytery on 6583 1024.

The return to the office for staff working from home aligns with the Federal Government’s three stage plan. During this return, we encourage all staff to adhere to social distancing guidelines and follow any procedures as directed by your managers or newly-added signage. Much work has been done already in readiness for this transition and I thank all of those who have invested much time and thought into our safety and productivity.

Staff that are working from home at present will follow the staged return to onsite work:

  • Stage 1 – from Monday 25 May, staff that were previously working from home will begin to return to onsite work (limit 10 per building). The majority of school staff and all students will return onsite full-time from this date too.
  • Stage 2 – from Tuesday 15 June, increased numbers of staff will be able to return (limit 20 per building).
  • Stage 3 – 6 July, as many staff as possible (pending some minor adjustments due to social distancing regulations) return to onsite work.

Again, I emphasise that while it is exciting to return to a sense of normalcy, we must resist the urge to depart from the staged and programmed nature of this transition. A failure to follow our plans may well undo much of the hard work already undertaken.

Thank you for the way you continue to operate in these surreal times. Your calmness, confidence and expertise has certainly shone through. Thank you and take care.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

By now you would be well aware that National Cabinet met last Friday to consider relaxing some of the COVID-19 restrictions. As a result the Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a three stage plan (see here) of how the community can return to a sense of normalcy.

Furthermore over the weekend NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that, in the main, NSW will follow the guidance of these relaxed restrictions with the notable exception of regional travel.

While it is great that we have these guidelines, our Leaders groups are discussing, as a key priority, what this means for us as a Parish, particularly in regards to teams returning to onsite work. I expect that after consultation with staff we will be able to generate a plan for a return to onsite work in the near future.

I look forward to the time when we will be able to once again gather together face-to-face to celebrate our faith and connect with our community.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

After dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 that has been felt across the country, it seems we are entering into a new phase of planning for a staged return to normal life. It is important to remember that COVID-19 is still present in our community and we must continue to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus. Here is an update across all our services:

Our aged care and disability services
Scheduled visits to our residential care services commenced this week with social distancing guidelines still in place. You can read the full guidelines, which also provides instructions for gifts, by clicking here. We understand following the guidelines may be difficult, especially for Mother’s Day on Sunday, however they are in place to protect the health of residents, staff and the community.

Our early education services and schools
As schools and workplaces begin to return to normal, our early education services are seeing an increase in demand. We are reminding families that standard practice is for children to remain at home if they are sick. This worked well during the peak of COVID-19, but it is important to continue this approach as more children return to our centres. Our schools issued communications regarding a staged return to onsite education for the weeks commencing 11 May (Week 3) and 17 May (Week 4). We expect that a plan for students’ return to school from Week 5 onwards to be released early next week.

Our Mission
We continue to support staff and families in our community over this difficult time. The COVID-19 quarantine period has lasted for more than eight weeks and while our resilience has shone through, it is obvious that some are still under stress, whether it is economic, mental or social. This stress may become more apparent as we start the next part of our journey of recovery. Helping and supporting each other is a key part of our Mission and a way in which we can love and care for each other as Jesus would. Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other during this time and look for support if you need it.

Again, thank you to everyone for all your commitment, empathy and resilience.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

It seems a long time ago when the first dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases led to the measures that are now part of our everyday life. With some restrictions now easing, the Parish is cautiously moving forward to a staged approach of returning to normal.

Importantly, any easing of restrictions does not mean we should become complacent. As per previous guidelines, please continue to practice rigorous hygiene practices, adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay at home if you display COVID-19-like symptoms.

Here is an update across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
Communication was recently sent to the families of all our residential care services detailing our approach to re-introducing family visits from 4 May. The first step in this approach is that visits must be booked in advance by contacting the service directly. Additional details that must be considered when visiting relatives are available here. In the next week or so, both myself and the General Manager of Care & Lifestyle, Bronwyn Chalker, will create a video for residents explaining the changes.

Our early education services and our schools
St Joseph’s Family Services has developed an online resource of storytelling, sing-along and craft videos for families to use while staying at home. This resource is called [email protected] and can be accessed via this link.

Ever since the NSW Premier announced a staged return to school from the week commencing 11 May, our schools and the Diocese have been discussing what this means to us. Yesterday, a schedule was finalised that will see a return to full-time schooling for Years 11 & 12 from 11 May (with some slight variations for Newman Senior Technical College) and a staged return for all other grades across primary and secondary schools. The details of this schedule has been communicated to staff and families.

Our Mission
I feel that this week signals the early steps of a journey towards normalcy. Whilst it is tempting to move to this more quickly rather than cautiously, I know that we have the strength and discipline to do this in a way that does not put the people in our community at risk. Nor should it undo the great work we have all done to date in minimising the impact of the virus locally. Now more than ever we should be conscious of our behaviour that enables us to live our Mission the best way we can with the best interests of our community at heart.

Please continue to look after yourselves and each other.

Further to my communique from yesterday, I would like to provide you with an update across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
As a follow-on from the Prime Minister’s statement on Tuesday, we are now looking at the best way of re-introducing family visits to our residential aged care services. We are anticipating increased enthusiasm for families to visit residents, especially in the lead-up to Mother’s Day, but need to work on a process to ensure this occurs in a managed approach. We expect to issue instructions for this next week, until then our aged care services will remain in lockdown.

Our early education services and schools
St Joseph’s Family Services have continued to stay in contact with families through a series of videos posted to its Facebook page where educators are engaging children through telling stories, singing songs and even making play dough. They are doing a great job to maintain connection with families during COVID-19. For our schools, Term 2 will commence from Monday 29 April. Learning for the first two weeks of this Term will continue to use the same blended learning model as was in operation at the end of Term 1. It is expected that during Term 2, schools will return to face-to-face learning. How and when this will occur is still to be decided, however local schools will provide individual input into what will work best for them and their families.

Our Mission
We continue to collate and deliver care packages of groceries and essentials for those in need, with another 22 packages being finalised this week. It is great that we are continuing to focus on those in our community that are in need, as it shows we are continuing to live our mission and maintaining contact with community needs.

On a lighter note, you may have heard that Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was broadcast from the Church belltower yesterday. This was not a hoax, click here to read the Port News story. Fr Paul was testing the broadcasting capability of the Church belltower prior to broadcasting the Last Post at 7am, 11am and 5pm for ANZAC Day tomorrow. While only a test, it brought smiles to everyone that heard it and the story has now gone viral with many newspapers across Australia publishing it as a feel-good story during this time of COVID-19.

Fr Paul’s ANZAC Mass will be available on our website and Facebook page from 7am tomorrow. I encourage you to take the time in your own way tomorrow to honour our ANZACs, and please continue to look after yourself and each other.


Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

Since our last update, we have had some significant announcements affecting our services. Following is an update for your information:

Our aged care and disability services
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister went on record saying that aged care services should not be in lockdown and be able to receive visitors as aligned with previous Government principles issued on 18 March. This has caused a great deal of confusion and concern in the sector, and we still believe our decision to move to a lockdown of our residential care services was in the best interests of the health of staff and residents. Nevertheless, we are currently looking at the best way to balance the government advice with what we are doing locally and will be in touch with residents, staff and families once we have fully reviewed all of our options.

Our early education services and schools
The NSW Premier also made an announcement earlier this week regarding the managed return to school from 11 May. This was an announcement made in consultation with Catholic and Independent school representatives and we expect to better understand what this means for schools in our Diocese over the coming days.

Our Mission
Easter brings with it stories about the appearance of Jesus after his resurrection. The Road to Emmaus is one of the more well-known ones where two disciples meet Jesus while on a journey to Emmaus. They do not recognise Jesus at first and tell their new friend of their despair as a result of Jesus’ crucifixion. The disciples were in a time of deep sorrow and at a standstill, not knowing the way forward however, their despair turns to hope once they recognise Jesus.

Similarly, in the COVID-19 environment we have been on a journey that has been tough and testing. While I am cautiously optimistic, it does seem that we are beginning to see signs of a return to normal – and this gives us hope. There is no way that we could have walked this journey without Jesus beside us and within every one of us. So I thank you for your patience, commitment and care for each other.

ANZAC Day is this weekend. Please keep an eye out for Fr Paul’s ANZAC Day mass and join in any commemorations that are planned.

Please continue to stay safe and continue to look after yourself and each other.


Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

I hope that this first week after Easter finds you well.

While it is good news that we have seen a reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases, we must not be complacent. The outbreak at Anglicare’s Newmarch House in Western Sydney is a timely reminder of this. We must remain vigilant and continue to adhere to hygiene practices and remember to stay at home, even if displaying minor symptoms of the virus. We must continue to do this to protect the health of our staff and community.

Indeed our prayers go out to those affected by the outbreak in Sydney.

Here is an update across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
Our aged care services are still in lockdown. Prior to the Easter weekend we communicated to all residents and their families regarding guidelines for providing gifts to residents. In summary, if a gift cannot be sanitised, it cannot be accepted. We have been communicating to staff and contractors regarding the government directive for flu vaccinations prohibiting anyone from entering aged care services without proof of a flu vaccination from 1 May.

Our early education service and schools
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made an announcement this morning that NSW public schools may begin to resume face-to-face teaching from Week 3 in Term 2. She suggested a staggered approach to avoid students all returning at once. As this was an announcement made this morning, we are yet to understand what this means for Catholic schools and we will keep you posted on any updates as they become available.

Our Mission
After the most important week in the Catholic calendar, I think it is worthwhile to reflect and learn from the Easter story. While there are times that can lead us to despair, there is always hope. This is not hope defined as some sort of blind optimism. It is hope that is born through Jesus’s resurrection that I see in our everyday actions, in the ways that we support, care and reach out to each other. It is something that is unique to our organisation and I feel blessed to witness it every day.

Please continue to act calmly, stay positive, be confident and have faith. Most importantly look after yourself and each other.


Adam SpencerChief Executive Officer

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Hello and happy Holy Week. I would like to provide you with information on what the Parish is doing to address Coronavirus (COVID-19) locally. Here is an update around our services:

Our faith during Holy Week
This week is the most important one for Catholics all around the world. Holy Week began with Palm Sunday last weekend and this week will include services for Holy Thursday, Stations of the Cross, Good Friday Mass, a Saturday Vigil Mass and Easter Sunday Mass. With our Church closed for services, these services will be delivered online to continue to keep our faith strong. For details regarding the timing of these services you can view the full schedule at:

Our aged care and disability services
Flu vaccines are occurring for staff and residents throughout our aged care services, which is a key strategy in protecting the health of staff and residents. It also aligns with a government directive that from 1 May no-one may enter an aged care service without proof of a flu vaccination. Depending on demand, we are in the process of offering these vaccinations at a central location to residents of Lourdes and St Agnes Villages.

We have received a number of inquiries about gifts to residents of our aged care services and are in the process of providing a response. However as a general guide, only gifts that can be sanitised will be accepted. Additionally, we are providing iPads to enable video messaging to bridge the connection between residents and their families. We are still also looking at a range of other means to ensure connectivity and well-being while these services are in lockdown. Our home care and NDIS services continue to operate based on the guidelines of social distancing and to minimise virus transmission.

Our early education services and schools
The Government has provided a package for the child care industry enabling centres to remain open to supporting the families of essential workers. Our centres will be able to stay open to continue this support.

In regards to our schools and working with the Catholic Schools Office, we have moved our Kindergarten enrolments for 2021 online and will be launching this new feature over the next few days. It is great news that the team in Understanding Faith, which provides online teaching resources for religious education, has seen a spike in usage of their online resources from schools that is five times the rate it was in the pre-COVID-19 environment.

The Easter weekend coming up is usually a time of being with family and friends, however it is important to be aware of potential mental health issues brought on by social isolation. If you or you know someone that suffering from isolation, anxiety or depression, feel free to contact the St Agnes Presbytery on 6583 1024.

I realise that while it is an Easter break for many of us, but there are also many within the Parish that will be working over this weekend. For everyone, and especially those working, please look after yourself over this time and know that we are indebted to you as the people who are delivering our Mission to the community. Now more than ever Christ’s journey through Holy Week is our anchor and our guide as we focus this weekend on his suffering and resurrection.

Adam Spencer
Chief Executive Officer

We continue to do all we can to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 across our community. I would like to provide you with an update of what are doing across our services:

Our aged care and disability services
The Government issued a directive requiring all staff, residents and service providers to aged care services to receive a flu vaccination. A restriction will come into force after 1 May that no-one will be able to enter aged care services without proof of a flu vaccination.

Our Home Care and NDIS services are still operational, although services to individual clients are modified to ensure we are providing them with the services they need while ensuring we comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

Our early education services and schools
Yesterday the Government made an announcement regarding its Early Education and Care Relief package and details of this announcement are available here. It is positive that the government is taking action and we are still determining what it means for St Joseph’s Family Services.

For schools, there is a significant change for the last week of term. All Catholic schools across NSW are setting aside 6-9 April as Staff Development days. This means there will be no online lessons during this time however, schools will provide supervision of students for those families of essential service workers. This time is required to enable our educators to plan for the blended learning environment for Term 2 and beyond.

Our Mission
Fr Paul has finished construction of our roadside chapel situated at the front of our Church. With our Church not able to accept visitors at present, this roadside chapel has been set up to enable people to remain in their cars to reflect and pause for contemplation, reflection and prayer.

Of course, the most significant week for Catholics, Holy Week, begins this weekend with Palm Sunday. As a sign of unity, Fr Paul has invited us to join with others around the world in celebrating Palm Sunday by placing a piece of palm at the front of our homes. We are encouraging everyone to display palms and upload pictures to social media with the hashtags #PalmSunday and #CelebratePalmSunday.

Fr Paul continues to do his daily updates which are proving to be very popular while we are required to stay at home. Notification of Fr Paul’s broadcast of Palm Sunday Mass will be distributed via email and social media on Sunday. Additionally, Channel 7 has announced The Lord’s Passion at 3pm on Good Friday and Easter Sunday Mass from 10.30am across the country on Channel 7, Prime 7 in regional areas, and live-streamed on 7plus.

Thank you for your support in this ever-changing environment. I feel blessed that we have so many talented and committed people in the Parish and I see evidence of this every day. In the lead up to Holy Week, please look for inspiration in the story of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection, reach out to each other and look after yourselves.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

I write to update you with the latest information on what the Parish is doing to address Coronavirus (COVID-19) locally.

I sent a message earlier today regarding the lockdown of our aged care services at Emmaus and St Agnes Site in Port Macquarie and Vincent Court in Kempsey. Given the increase of local COVID-19 cases, this has been a proactive decision to protect the health and safety of our staff and residents. Generally, everyone has been supportive of this decision so my thanks to all for their patience and understanding. Complying with the latest government restrictions, we have also decided to close access to Donnelly House to visitors from today. Although closed to visitors, Donnelly House will still be taking calls via its reception number 5525 3600.

The government directive regarding schools has been for all students to remain at home except for those who are children of parents that work in essential services. Our schools, and our early education centres, will continue to stay open to support these families.

The Federal Government has launched an app which provides regular updates on everything to do with COVID-19. Information regarding downloading the app can be accessed at:

The Parish is well respected for looking after our community. Please be aware of those in the community that may be feeling lonely, scared or isolated and contact them to make sure they are OK. If you are feeling this way, please reach out to a family member, friend or colleague.

Stay healthy and continue to look after yourself.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer 

Hello again,

As you know the environment of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is ever-changing and I would like to provide you with an update on how we are addressing COVID-19 locally. Before I do however, I want to let you know that we are conscious of wanting to communicate effectively and not saturate you with information. If you have any comments or feedback on the way we are communicating, please email: [email protected].

The Parish Administration Centre (PAC) is now closed to visits from the public. Any PAC-related inquiries can still made via the reception number 6588 7444. The Presbytery Office remains open for Church and pastoral inquiries and is contactable on 6583 1024. Here is an update across our services:

Our aged care services
COVID-19 will continue to impact our aged care services. Even though we have measures in place to minimise any transmission of COVID-19 to visitors, staff and residents, we need to be prepared for the likelihood that one or more of our facilities may go into lockdown. Our Care & Lifestyle teams are experienced in managing lockdowns, and we are preparing staff, residents and their families for this possibility.

Our schools and early education
I know there was a degree of uncertainty regarding the closure of our schools over the past few days, and in this case we must follow the advice from the Catholic Schools Office and NSW Government. This advice is to keep children at home, however we understand that this may not be possible for everyone especially for those working in essential services. As a result, our schools have remained open to support these families. Students that do attend schools are in a blended learning environment where lessons are conducted online and comply with social distancing guidelines. The schools will communicate with you directly on any changes to this. At present our early education centres are remaining open for the same reasons, however the Uniform Store is closed until further notice.

I would like to acknowledge the work of all staff in our schools and in early education. The work they have done to date has been incredible. My thanks also goes to the parents and families that have supported this move. They have shown themselves to be adaptable and resilient in challenging circumstances.

Our community
While this is challenging time for all of us, there are examples emerging everyday where our staff are truly living the Vision, Mission and Values of the Parish. Of particular note are the care packages we have delivered to community members in need.

Our Mission
Lastly I would like to refer you to the regular videos that Fr Paul is developing. Each is less than eight minutes in length and I believe they are useful in providing inspiration and guidance, alleviating anxiety, uncertainty and offering spiritual nourishment in a time when we most need it. The videos are uploaded to the Parish Facebook page or are available on our video channel ‘With you for Life’ by clicking here. Don’t forget to stay up to date with latest information on our website:

Again these are challenging and uncertain times and as many people are now being asked to stay at home. I suggest that as a community we communicate regularly, be positive, have faith, pray regularly and be kind to one another.

Take care,

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

Over the weekend the Australian Government announced new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings that, although they are to be reviewed monthly, it is expected that these measures would be in place for at least six months. You can get the details of these restrictions at:, but what does this mean for all our Parish services?

From a pastoral perspective, Mass and sacramental services are postponed until further notice. Links to online services were provided in the Parish Bulletin over the weekend but we are also looking at alternative ways to deliver Mass locally and stay engaged with Parishioners.

This morning NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian stated that while no child will be turned away from NSW public schools, she is encouraging parents to keep their children at home for the rest of the term. We are now awaiting advice from the Catholic Schools Office as to what that announcement means for Catholic schools of the Diocese. Our schools have plans in place for educational continuity and you will be hearing directly from them in due course. Our early education centres are vital to ensure ongoing continuity for all of our services as well as businesses across the community, however we will still be guided by the Government’s decisions in this area.

Our aged care services are already implementing visitor restrictions, which will continue and may even escalate. The Marian Centre and St Agnes’ Food Services will remain open, as will the Presbytery office. Some services in Home Care and NDIS that do not comply with social distancing guidelines will be changed. Closures will be in effect, or already are in effect for the MacKillop Centre and The Francis Retreat. I also expect that the Parish Admin Centre may close to outside visitors soon, but will be available to receive calls and have staff still based onsite. Donnelly House will also remain open with strict protocols in place.

Once again, thank you for your resilience, your resourcefulness and your steadfast belief in what we do.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) met again this morning and I would like to provide you with an update from that meeting.

Please see above for a video from Fr Paul providing notification of the cancellation of Mass for this weekend and also an update on future plans for Mass and our sacramental program.

There are updated government guidelines regarding visitations to our aged care services. The directives are that, to minimise the risk of transmission; visits should be brief, be conducted in a resident’s room or designated area and not in communal areas. No more than two visitors will be permitted at a time and children under 16 years are only permitted in special circumstances. All visitors will need to wash their hands before entering and leaving a resident’s room and will be encouraged to practise social distancing where possible, including to stay away from services when unwell. To ensure the number of visits to our services are managed, the approved visiting hours across our services are: Monday-Friday from 9.00am-5.00pm and Saturday-Sunday from 9.00am-3.00pm. Please keep aware of changes to any signage at entry points to these services as additional sign-in forms or procedures begin to be introduced for staff, visitors and contractors.

While NSW Health is currently working through the closure of a local school due to a COVID-19 positive test result, there has been no instruction for Catholic schools to close at present. The Parish is working closely with the Catholic Schools Office in Lismore, and will keep you up to date regarding any changes to this decision. Our early education centres, in line with centres across the state, are strongly recommending children to stay at home if exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Like the schools, the current plan is for our early education centres to remain open.

We are also currently looking at ways in which we can partner with other organisations to deliver grocery hampers to those most in need. This is something of which I am particularly supportive, as it fits well and truly with our Vision, Mission and Values. I expect more details to be available about that soon.

Once again, I thank you for everything you are doing to bring our Vision, Mission and Values to the Parish and to your support in this challenging environment. Please continue to be calm, positive and look after yourselves and each other.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

I would like to bring you up to date on the issues discussed at the most recent meeting of Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This team has been established to deliver this communique as the official communication from the Parish offering guidance and instruction regarding the Coronavirus. You can access previous communiques at the Parish website at

Overall, I would like to reiterate that St Agnes’ Parish is not underestimating its impact on the local community in our decision-making process regarding the Coronavirus. This is why we need everyone in our Parish community to work together in mutual participation to exhibit positive behaviours as well as identifying and addressing any issues as they arise.

There have been some key announcements made since our last communique.

Only today, the Australian Government has introduced the highest restrictions on overseas travel advising people to not travel at all over this time. The Australian Government has announced that all travelers arriving or returning to Australia since Monday must isolate for a period of 14 days without exception. All staff and volunteers are expected to comply with these requirements before resuming work at the Parish. If you think you need to self-isolate and are unsure, please seek a medical opinion.

The Government has also introduced social distancing measures restricting the convening of non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people. At present, this does not include essential functions, including schools, universities and workplaces. We have just received news that Mass is cancelled for this weekend, but we are looking at all options for the ways in which we could celebrate Mass in the future.

In regards to our aged care services, the Government announced specific restrictions around staff and visitors entering an aged care facility. This includes previous guidelines precluding those who have recently returned from overseas, been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, displaying flu-like symptoms and those who have not been vaccinated against influenza after 1 May. Specifically for visitors to our services, visits should be brief, limited to two people and conducted in a way that adheres to government social distancing guidelines. Click here for information on these restrictions.

Locally we are doing this, plus we have established single entry points for all of our services with accompanying directional signage and sanitising stations. Additionally, we intend to introduce temperature scanners to check the temperatures of anyone entering our aged care services. We are very conscious that our aged care and disability services look after people that are most at-risk and vulnerable to Coronavirus, which can have an unintended impact of social isolation. We are currently investigating ways to address this issue, which may include the use of technology solutions.

There is currently no Government-announced closure of our schools, although this decision will be revisited on Friday. We, and our schools, are in regular contact with the Department of Education and the Catholic Schools Office on any updates.

In regards to early education services, the Federal Government announced that families experiencing a loss of income may be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship). This subsidy is available for up to 13 weeks and, in most cases, the full cost of child care will be covered for those eligible. Click here for a fact sheet detailing this Federal Government support.

Ordering supplies such as masks, sanitiser and soap etc has been significantly impacted by the surge in demand due to COVID-19. However, our suppliers have indicated that while there is a delay, it does not mean that supplies are totally exhausted. They are still advising to place orders as required and will distribute them as they are replenished.

It is likely the CIMT will meet more regularly than weekly for the future (we will hold our second meeting for the week on Friday).

I thank you for your continued calmness, support and cooperation as we manage this rapidly changing and difficult situation.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer

Last week, the Parish convened its Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to highlight any issues pertaining to the COVID-19 Coronavirus and to ensure staff are kept up to date with the latest advice as to what we are doing locally.

The Team has identified that the key priority is to do all we can to prevent any possible spread of the virus. While it is unknown as yet if there are any confirmed cases locally, we are directing all visitors to our aged care services to enter through one entry point. These entry points will include signage directing them to sanitising stations for visitors as the come and go.

We are attempting to procure enough supplies, like sanitiser and protective masks, for services across the Parish, however they are in high demand. The best advice for all employees is to regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap, a practice which proves to be just as effective as hand sanitiser.

There have been changes to the way we conduct Mass, mandated by our Bishop, which were detailed in last week’s communication. These details can be found on our website – – or on our social media.

Also please be aware of travel restrictions to and from other countries as these guidelines change regularly. You can find more information about specific countries and restrictions at:

There will be another update next week, but in the meantime, please speak to your Manager asking them to forward any concerns on to the CIMT.

Adam Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Colleagues, Families, Residents, Parishioners and Volunteers,

No doubt you will be aware of media reports and discussions at Federal and State Government level surrounding the activation of the Australian Government’s Emergency Response Plan for the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

While not wanting to cause alarm, St Agnes’ Parish and its entities may be required as part of this Plan to take action, which may include temporarily closing some of its facilities. We would like to reassure our families, residents, clients, volunteers and Parishioners that should such an event occur we will be well prepared.

These actions may include:

Aged care services in ‘lock down’ with all non-essential visitors unable to enter.
Closure of early education centres, primary and secondary schools.
Assessment and detailed preparation across all Parish services under the direction of our Critical Incident Management Team, and action where required.
In the meantime, we would ask you to be especially mindful of behaviours that reduce the possibility of virus transmission. Here are some suggestions:

The Australian Government advice for those who have travelled to ‘at risk’ countries, or have been in contact with someone who has the virus, is to self-identify and self-quarantine: See more information at: This is compulsory for all staff but is also requested of all those who are in any way in personal contact with Parish entities or services.
If you are planning to travel overseas, stay safe and review Government travel advice, as there are currently travel warnings for South Korea, Iran, Japan, Italy, and Mongolia: See more information:
Follow good hygiene principles and always wash your hands with soap and water. We are placing additional hand sanitising stations across all Parish buildings, and encourage its use at all times.
If you are exhibiting flu symptoms do not come to work. Contact your GP and advise your symptoms (before attending) and only return to work, when cleared by your GP.
It is recommended that people do not shake hands, kiss hello and that contact is kept to a minimum.
The following precautionary steps have been mandated by the Bishop of Lismore for Mass.
In order to prevent the passing of the virus from hand to hand there will be no sign-of-peace until further notice;
To prevent the possibility of the transmission of droplets from one person to another during the reception of Communion, all Communion will be given on the hand and not on the tongue until further notice;
The Chalice will not be shared with the congregation;
Should members of your Parish be feeling unwell, they are relieved from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass. Sick people should not attend Mass.
A reminder to all special ministers of the Eucharist to sanitise their hands with sanitising gel before distribution;
Holy Water will not be used at the entrances of churches.
We would like to reiterate that it is not our intention to cause alarm however, it is important that we are well prepared for any instruction that may be made as part of the Government’s Response Plan. The Parish Leadership Team will continue to meet, discuss and release relevant communications as required.

If you have a particular issue or concern, please raise this with your direct Manager who can provide feedback to the Critical Incident Management Team.

Fr Paul Gooley, Parish Priest & Adam Spencer, Chief Executive Officer

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