Faith in Our Future: Why Our Pastoral Plan Matters

25/03/2013

Catholic Outlook March 2013 Faith in Our Future Story
His message can lead to a heart for service and a heart for evangelisation.

By Paul Marshall and Daniel Ang, Pastoral Planning Team Catholic Outlook March 2013

This season of Lent reminds us of the need to match the faith that we live with the Gospel mission we have been called to fulfil.

It is a season of repentance and conversion in which we measure the ‘gap’ between our reality and our promises as disciples, between the quality of our witness and our best hopes for our faith into the future.

As the Bishops of NSW shared in this year’s Lenten Pastoral Letter, the present time is “an opportunity for the purification of the Church – a Lenten return for each one of us personally and all of us collectively” (Sowing in Tears, 2013). We are called to return to Jesus, as the source of our life and the one who ‘sends’ us out to be his witnesses in the world (John 20:21, Acts 1:8).

Our developing pastoral plan will seek to promote and support this conversion here in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. By offering a vision for our Diocese as a whole, for our parishes, youth groups, religious and the ecclesial movements that form our Catholic community, our pastoral plan will seek to bring our best hopes into the present, inspiring and challenging each one of us as disciples to grow in our faith and extend this faith to others as bearers of Good News.

While the pastoral plan will offer many practical recommendations to strengthen the life and mission of our communities, at the heart of every structure and every pastoral initiative is the question of conversion.

The heart of renewal in the Church is a renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the mission of His Church. Only conversion to Jesus’ person and His message can lead to a heart for service and a heart for evangelisation. Only when people begin to grow in the Gospel can the Church begin to grow.

In this way the pastoral plan hopes to be a question not only for ‘others’ but for each one of us in our various vocations: ‘How can we be a part of a stronger and more vibrant faith here in the Diocese of Parramatta?’

Of course we need plans. Wanting to grow is not enough; we need to plan to grow. Growth does not happen without goals, without making plans and defining strategies. However, if we do not grow spiritually then all else will be in vain. Lent calls us precisely to this conversion, a deepening of our discipleship as Christians and as a community of discipleship, as a Church.

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