A new springtime of the spirit
|More than 80 people gathered for a leaders’ training day last month.|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook October 2014
By Pastoral Planning Office Director Daniel Ang
This first year of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future, has been filled with activity to support our parishes and Diocese to grow and share faith with new energy and fresh ideas. There is much good news to share.
On a parish front, several new parish pastoral councils have formed or are forming in response to the Pastoral Plan (e.g. at Cranebrook, Mt Druitt South and Guildford among others), existing pastoral councils are working systematically through the Faith in Our Future document, new welcome and hospitality initiatives have begun.
We have facilitated leadership and ministry days to help parishes reflect on the vision that communities have for their future life, their local priorities and their plans to bring them to life.
Our Pastoral Plan has proved to be a wonderful catalyst and resource for fresh conversations about parish life and mission, and this renewed dialogue itself is a sign of the Spirit at work in the hearts and minds of our people and communities.
As part of the support offered by the Pastoral Planning Office, more than 80 lay men and women from 18 parishes throughout our Diocese gathered for a leaders’ training day on 13 September.
There was a tremendous response and participants focused on the potential of the Catholic Alpha program as a tool for parish evangelisation.
To take the Gospel into the hearts and homes of Western Sydney we need more than a desire to do so; we need a plan to evangelise. Catholic Alpha offers a structure and resources to welcome new as well as existing parishioners into a life-giving experience of the Gospel and the community of the Gospel, the Church.
Participants were inspired by the possibilities that each parish holds to take concrete steps to offer the people in their neighbourhood a non-threatening and comfortable environment in which to explore the Great Story of Jesus.
Thank you to all who attended, for your living sense of faith and support of the renewal we want to see throughout our Diocese over the next five years.
Another element of our Pastoral Plan is our commitment to offer faith formation, resources and social support services closer to our people. In this direction, Fr Wim Hoekstra, Dean of the Blue Mountains Deanery and Parish Priest of St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook, will begin a lecture series next month entitled, ‘Who do you say I am? Discipleship in Mark’s Gospel’.
The course will be made available at St Finbar’s Parish as well as St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood.
Also in November, Bishop Anthony will share his own personal journey as ‘priest, pastor and preacher’ at Springwood Parish. More details for these upcoming events can be found at our website: http://www.faithinourfuture.org.au/
Our diocesan agencies also continue to work hard to achieve their goals as outlined in Faith in Our Future. In addition to the establishment of the Family and Life Office, there has been a review and renewal of resources and services by ministries including the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), the Institute for Mission (IFM), Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP), CatholicCare Social Services (CCSS) and the Office for Worship.
This work is ongoing but the fruits of new prayer resources, sacramental support, adult formation opportunities and social support services are already beginning to be experienced at the grassroots.
By working towards the common goals outlined in Faith in Our Future, our agencies have been united with our parishes in seeking to strengthen the outreach of the Church, especially to those who may be indifferent or distant from the faith.
As a Church that exists for mission, we cannot be content to ‘shepherd’ an existing flock but must also seek to reach out, to be ‘fishers’ of new men and women in every generation.
Faith in Our Future provides us with a common vision, a framework and resources to build this culture of evangelisation across all our Catholic communities.
Early in the New Year we will present a summary of the achievements that have been made in this first year of the Pastoral Plan.
Remember, it is never too late to get involved in the mission of our Church! Our website includes a number of resources, contacts and ways you can start sharing your faith and gifts in the name of the Gospel: www.faithinourfuture.org.au
Yours in Christ, Daniel Ang.Follow the Pastoral Planning Office on Twitter: @parrafaith
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