Pastoral Planning Update for the Diocese of Parramatta
|Blacktown consultation: Photography by Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
By Daniel Ang, Catholic Outlook, April 2012
The first series of conversations towards our Diocesan Pastoral Plan have been dynamic and encouraging, with an average of 90 participants at each of the events thus far! We know that conversation is critical to the life of any community.
It is especially so for the Church which, in the way of the disciples in the upper room at Pentecost, seeks to listen and respond to the Spirit as a people ‘grafted on’ to the life and mission of Jesus.
In short, we need to talk with one another in faith and share our viewpoints for the best sense of what God seeks to bring about in this time and place.
Our parish consultation events are a beginning point for that process of discernment.
Full house in the Hills
On 24 February 2012, more than 160 parishioners from St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, and St Madeleine’s Parish, Kenthurst, filled our third consultation session.
It was an energetic and dynamic evening, with concrete suggestions toward a more focused approach to mission in the coming years.
There was a call to better promote and articulate the benefits of Christian life and community to new generations and the particular influence of parents in the faith formation of the young was a strong point of consensus, one inviting a renewed pastoral response.
Technology was raised as a key component of evangelisation in future years, and it was suggested that there be an accessible point of contact for inquirers about the Catholic faith and solid support for those seeking to learn more.
A parishioner from Kenthurst commented, “This was a very good format for allowing parishioners to think through, share and discuss their views on the variety of issues facing the Diocese, as we look to the future and how we can manage the opportunities which will come our way. In just a couple of hours everyone there had the opportunity to speak and for their ideas to be recorded.”
Faith and vision in Blacktown
St Patrick’s Parish, Blacktown, and St Michael’s Parish, South Blacktown, came together on 1 March 2012 to share their views. We began with an acknowledgment of the late Fr Gerry Iverson, a priest and friend who contributed so much to these parishes and to the life of the Diocese.
As discussion began, it was wonderful to see an even spread of people take up each of the five pastoral priorities of discussion, the most even spread of participants so far.
Those who considered ‘family life’ as a priority noted children’s liturgies as a positive initiative that continued to support faith in families, however it was suggested that further resources for parents and children to pray and live mission together were needed.
Better support for men and fathers was a further area of need identified, as well as raising awareness of services that could assist families, particularly during experiences of crisis or breakdown.
The challenge of retaining newly arrived migrants in parish life was discussed while a ‘welcome home’ program was raised as an initiative to reconnect with those who may not be strongly connected with their parish community.
For news & information visit the blog at: www.faithinourfuture.org.au
|Cathdral consultation: Photography by Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
Building strong and vital parishes
On 8 March 2012, we joined two of the youngest parishes in the Diocese, Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill, and Blessed John XXIII Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens.
The relative young profile of these communities and their location within growth areas of our Diocese was common ground and was reflected in the focus on two priorities in particular: supporting family life and the need for outreach or a new evangelisation.
The importance of inviting families to participate in parish life beyond the experience of liturgy was identified as a means to link the sacraments with their social and missionary character.
Regular and welcoming social gatherings were one suggestion, as was the need to consider dedicated personnel to liaise between the parish and school communities.
Support for faith throughout the life cycle was raised, and age-appropriate pastoral programs were suggested as a good starting point to invite people into a sense of community and even leadership development.
It was felt that mainstream media did not always provide a full or balanced picture of the contribution of the Catholic Church, both spiritually and socially, in Western Sydney and that this was a story that needed to be told by more Catholics more often in the years ahead.
Spirit and mission at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish
Some 70 parishioners made for an energetic and lively conversation at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish on 13 March 2012.
Bishop Anthony Fisher OP joined us and affirmed the growth of our Diocese as a remarkable opportunity for evangelisation and pastoral care, a sign of hope for the living and sharing of the Gospel in future years.
Participants identified young adults as a potential area of response, especially single young adults who may feel comfortable neither in the context of family groups or the younger youth groups on offer.
The need to familiarise ourselves with the story of newly arrived migrants was highlighted, as were pilgrimages and feast days as vital means of sharing in and celebrating the diversity of our people.
The other notable emphasis was on the need for effective communication, in articulating Catholic faith in the public square and raising awareness of the pastoral programs and events that are available even now within the Diocese.
The conversation continues …
In the preceding weeks it has been a privilege to hear the diverse and complementary responses to the faith of the future that awaits us.
There is great commitment and hope among our people and with numerous consultations yet to be held we look forward to hearing more of the richness and creativity that is out there.
Please continue to invite your family and friends to get involved and to have their say.
We have already begun to process the many live and online submissions to date and an interim report will be developed and shared in the coming weeks.
Thank you for your honesty, your prayer and wisdom as we plan for a renewed mission in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
With your help, the very best of our life as the people of God lies not behind us but ahead of us in this new time of challenge and change for faith.Have your say online at: www.faithinourfuture.org.au
« Return to news list