Sunday 1 April 2012
Kairos Catholic Journal, Volume 23, issue 5
Suzi Pratt reflects on her and colleague Linda Farrugia's time as parish secretaries at St Leonard's, Glen Waverley.
I have been working in the parish office for 12 years and probably will continue for a few years yet, although last week our parish accountant told me I have to learn yet another computer program. I have a love–hate relationship with the computer—more often of late it's hate; I hate the way an inanimate object can reduce me to a moron! Linda has been working in the parish office for 10 years and will be here for many years yet—she has five children to feed, clothe and educate.
The things we most like about our job are the flexibility, the variety and the fact that we both live within five minutes of the office. Linda and I job-share (Linda does two days and I do three) and both of us are comfortable working the other's days if necessary. We could never complain about lack of variety or boredom with our jobs—no two weeks are exactly the same. Like all parishes, we have a wealth of volunteers and many active ministries, so we don't lack 'visitors' to our inner sanctum! Fr Brendan (Dillon) makes it easy for us and pretty much leaves us to our own devices in the office—the hardest part working for Fr Brendan is to get him to answer his mobile phone and to clear his email inbox!
Linda is responsible for anything to do with what comes out of the church after the weekend (Thanksgiving, banking, etc) and I am responsible for whatever needs to go into the church for the weekend (the bulletin, leader's book, readings, etc). The rest—general correspondence, copyright, registers, funeral booklets, PowerPoint, music, accounts, cheques, neighbourhood groups, data entry, rosters, fixing the loo—we split between us. We have a 'cross-over' book that is filled with copious instructions, advice, reminders and messages and interspersed with a whole lot of nonsense.
I am the caretaker of parish records and archives because Linda has a filing logic that defies understanding; and Linda is responsible for the computer, her sixth child. She is the guru (aka 'nerd') and loves playing with it. She will persevere with any new program and then has to show me what I need to know because I only want to know one way of doing something, not the 27 ways she has worked out! She is also adept at delegating the 'hard stuff'—like writing this article for Kairos!
I have only belonged to two parishes, the first was where I grew up in Gippsland until I was 18, and the second is St Leonard's, since 1984. Linda began life in Pascoe Vale and was a parishioner for 25 years at St Oliver's. From there she and her husband moved to Wheelers Hill and belonged to St Justin's for eight years. Then they crossed the divide to Glen Waverley and settled in at St Leonard's.
I could say my favourite work tool is the computer but Linda would just roll her eyes. However, I am better than her at working our printer, which does everything except cook dinner—though I am sure it does that too; I just haven't found the right button. If Linda said anything other than the computer she would have to visit Fr Brendan in the confessional!
Aside from the above, the kettle and biscuit tin are definite sources of appeal.
I am an avid reader and, although I love books, I have succumbed to technology and am in love with my Kindle. I worked many years in hospitality and catering and I am still a 'foodie' and a hoarder of cooking magazines and books and love having friends around for meals. Movies are always on our agenda. My husband Howard and I have spent a lot of time travelling and living overseas and, as he is nearing retirement, we intend to do a lot more—but don't tell Linda, because she has to cover the office while I am away!
Relax? What's that? With five kids that word is not in Linda's dictionary! Hence anything that gets her out of the house and away from the noise puts a smile on her face. She's good on the dance floor, a regular visitor to the cinema, her house is always brimming with people, and she disappears into her garden for peace and calm.
Photo: Linda Farrugia (left) and Suzi Pratt, parish secretaries at St Leonard’s Parish, Glen Waverley. Photo by Michael Farrugia.