Faith in Our Future Interim Report
|Full house...the Pastoral Planning Consultation at Castle Hill on 24 February, attended by Parishioners from St Bernadette’s Castle Hill and St Madeleine’s Kenthurst. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
The first interim report from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta's Pastoral Planning Team has been released, summarising the key themes and insights from the first series of Parish consultations conducted throughout the Diocese.
The core objective of the consultation phase of “Faith in Our Future” is to invite responses from Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta to five pastoral priorities: family life, youth, ethnic diversity, support of lay and priestly vocations, and outreach or the mission of a new evangelisation. It is these priorities that will focus and shape the life, ministries and structures of the Diocese in the next five years and beyond.
Around 700 people have participated in the eight parish consultation sessions to date. Of these approximately 54 per cent were women and 46 per cent men.
There have been 65 online submissions via the diocesan pastoral planning website and 370 subscriptions to the “Faith in Our Future” blog and news service. The website attracts an average of 300 visitors per week.
There was a high degree of consistency in the priority selected by participants thus far, with “family life” being the most popular area of concentration with “youth” the second most popular priority of discussion overall.
An initial review of the qualitative data gathered at the parish consultation sessions and online submissions has revealed the following perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the Parramatta Diocese:
Areas of strength identified
Provision and support of youth activities, especially World Youth Days
The Catholic school system
Strong participation in sacramental programs
The affirmation of family life as valuable
The availability of faith formation opportunities for laity
The continuing commitment to RCIA
Strong ministry of SRE catechists in the state school system
The charitable works of CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul
Areas of weakness identified
Difficulty in retaining young people’s engagement with the Church, particularly liturgy
Weak connections with families post-baptism
Lack of consistency in welcoming newcomers to parish communities
Weak faith connections between schools and parishes
Poor faith engagement with parents through schools
Lack of knowledge and understanding of various ethnic cultures within the Diocese
Scarcity of mothers’ groups and support for parents with children under school age
The challenge of inviting new people into ministry and the renewal of ministries
Lack of knowledge in the area of Scripture and other areas of Catholic faith
Lack of resources to support participation of families in Church life
The need to accentuate the positive aspects of our Church and parishes
Areas of opportunity identified
To establish ongoing connections and communication with families in the parish
To provide better support for new and established married couples
To promote and communicate more effectively about existing and emerging groups, programs and services already on offer throughout the Diocese
To cultivate prayer experiences and community outside the context of Mass
To improve the quality of liturgies to foster engagement
To increase the study of Scripture and familiarity with the Catholic tradition, including methods and styles of prayer
To provide good and welcome ‘entry level’ resources and experiences for the ‘unchurched’ or enquiring
To share liturgies, programs and resources across parishes where appropriate (eg - youth Masses, resources and personnel)
To provide formation for lay men and women in evangelisation (eg - courses and retreats)
Read the full Interim Report story - including responses from the Pastoral Planning Team and Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - at the Faith in Our Future site
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