Faith in Our Future: Connection between faith and life a recurring theme
By Daniel Ang, Catholic Outlook, July 2012
The past three months have been filled with Faith in Our Future consultations throughout the Diocese, with parishioners from some 20 parishes contributing their vision and ideas toward our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. As expected, the responses have been diverse and attuned to both local needs and those beyond parish communities.
Communion and Mission at Guildford and East Granville
|Consultation with St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford, and Holy Family Parish, East Granville. Photography: Sharon Bevan.|
On 16 May we joined the parishes of St Patrick’s Parish, at Guildford and Holy Family Parish, East Granville, for conversation in the new school facilities at Guildford, which were built with the Australian Government’s Building the Education Revolution program.
Participants were eager to engage with the pastoral realities of the Diocese and, in particular, to explore the notion of mission in terms of evangelisation and the proclamation of our faith.
In the area of family life, there was an urgent sense of the need for families to take responsibility for the transmission of faith, supported by the wider Catholic community but, above all, by the practices of family prayer and family social activities that fostered the connection between faith and life.
Other participants discussed the challenge of welcoming alienated and estranged Catholics back to the Church and our need to learn from their experience.
Another need identified in the area of evangelisation was the support of men in faith, particularly those over the age of 35, who it was felt were often overlooked in the Church’s pastoral care.
Formation was surfaced again as necessary precondition of effective evangelisation and this included the need for Catholics to know their faith and to share it generously with others.
Openness to New Ways of Being Parish at Rydalmere and Dundas Valley
On 23 May we travelled to the eastern border of the Diocese, gathering together with the people of Holy Name of Mary Parish, Rydalmere, and St Bernadette’s Parish, Dundas Valley. This marked the halfway point of our consultation phase and strong themes continued to emerge.
The better support of families attending Mass and outreach to new and ethnic families was pinpointed as opportunities, while the need to ‘pitch’ religious education and formation programs at the right level within our Catholic schools and beyond was a focus of discussion.
It has been valuable to hear such concerns as they reflect a grassroots experience and denote the importance of communicating the faith in ways that enable reception and invite a further deepening of lived discipleship.
Reaching out to all at Richmond and Windsor
|Discussion and sharing with the Parish of Richmond and St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor. Photography: Fr Walter Fogarty.|
We then joined the Parish of Richmond and St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor, on 28 May. Fifty-four people joined this conversation, which was held in the Richmond parish hall, an extension of the original church built in 1859.
The social dimension of faith was emphasised by participants, calling forth a better organised approach to welcoming families to parish life as well as ensuring parishes are responding to those who are ill or in care.
The practice of home visitation was raised as an important response to families, and bringing schools and parishes together through liturgy and shared gatherings.
Significantly, a marked area of focus was the need for our Church as a whole to be genuinely missionary in its outreach to all, including those who may be on the edges of Church or the faith.
The energy and goodwill of these parishes to engage with such a mission was an encouraging sign of what is indeed possible in the years ahead with the support and determination of our parish communities.
Co-responsibility for mission at Emu Plains and Glenbrook
|Faith communities of Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains, and St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook. Photography: Vic O'Callaghan.|
Finally, on 5 June 80 people took part in the consultation held at the parish of Our Lady of the Way, Emu Plains, which included parishioners from St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook.
The need for greater awareness of and active co-responsibility for the mission of the Church was raised, as the baptismal responsibility of all Catholics in the variety of their vocations.
The importance of Catholic teachers as witnesses to the faith was underlined, as was the need to uphold faith and identity in the midst of social changes. which can run counter to Gospel values.
There was an affirmation of local initiatives already underway, including youth Masses and outreach initiatives including the St Vincent de Paul Society, and a call for a strengthening of youth support and evangelisation in the media.
These were just some of the responses gleaned from a positive and hope-filled conversation.
Thank you to all who have given of their time, faith and insight in the past month of gatherings.
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More comprehensive accounts of the parish consultations mentioned above, subscribe to our blog available at www.faithinourfuture.org.au
Fr Paul Marshall and I look forward to updating you with more news from across the Diocese in the next edition of Catholic Outlook.
Parish consultations in July & August 2012
St Andrew’s Catholic Parish, Marayong
Tuesday 24 July from 7.30-9.30pm
St Andrew’s School Hall
40 Breakfast Road, Marayong
Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Parish, Greystanes
Tuesday 31 July from 7.30-9.30pm
Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish Centre
198 Old Prospect Road, Greystanes
Christ the King Catholic Parish, North Rocks
Thursday 16 August from 7.30-9.30pm
Christ the King Parish Hall
10 Statham Avenue, North Rocks
St Nicholas of Myra Catholic Parish, Penrith
Wednesday 22 August from 7-9pm
St Nicholas of Myra Parish Hall
326 High Street, Penrith
Holy Family Catholic Parish, Mt Druitt
Sunday 26 August following Mass at 9am and 10.30am
Inside Holy Family Church
254 Luxford Road, Emerton
Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish, Kellyville
Thursday 30 August from 7.30-9.30pm
Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School Hall
8 Diana Avenue, Kellyville For more information visit the Faith in Our Future blog at: www.faithinourfuture.org.au
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