Living our mission with Faith in Our Future
|Formation sessions provided parish pastoral council members with an opportunity to share their experiences, challenges and wisdom.|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook April 2015
By Daniel Ang
Over the past weeks the Pastoral Planning Office, in collaboration with Catholic Mission, has offered a unique formation program for parish pastoral councils and parish leaders with almost 100 people participating at two sites in the Diocese.
In order to advance and support leadership for mission in our parishes, the sessions included teaching, dialogue, and discussion of Pope Francis’ call to the Church to deepen her conversion and reach out with the Gospel to the wider world.
In the past year of implementation, we have come to recognise that parish pastoral councils best plan for the future with a shared sense of Church and mission.
We can sometimes take for granted our assumptions about what the Church is and exists for and the very meaning of mission.
Discussing these themes in the light of Pope Francis’ witness and teaching has encouraged parish leaders in our Diocese to move forward with a strong sense of personal vocation, to lead mission in the world and to bring others with them in that mission.
Just last month, Pope Francis exhorted the laity to be at the front lines of the Church’s outreach and “like leaven … put the spirit of the Gospel in the wounds of history with the witness of faith, hope and love”.
He called lay men and women to reach out to others in the concrete situations of their lives, so that many more can be reached by the mercy and love of Christ, including our families and neighbours at work and in our social environments (14 March 2015).
Our formation sessions in March also provided parish pastoral council members with an opportunity to share their experiences, challenges and wisdom with other laity seeking to contribute to the growth of their parishes in collaboration with their pastors.
It is never too late to become involved in the evangelising mission of our Diocese and parishes, as we seek to bring Faith in Our Future to real life. From Tuesday 28 April 2015, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, will be hosting an Alpha in a Catholic Context course specifically for any parish leaders who might consider running the Alpha course in their own communities.
A former participant shared her experience of the course, which suggests itself as a key evangelising opportunity for parishes seeking to reach out to newcomers and even ‘established’ Catholics:
“Before Alpha, I didn’t attend Mass regularly. Growing up, my family generally attended Mass twice a year, at Easter and Christmas. I didn’t have a relationship with God, and didn’t see how He would be relevant in my life.
“A friend invited me to Alpha, and although reluctant, I decided to attend because I wanted to find out why I called myself a Catholic. To my surprise, the speaker was very engaging, funny and informative. I discovered a relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit.
“Alpha has given me purpose and direction in life. I would highly recommend Alpha to anyone, no matter where you’re at with God”.
For more information about this leaders’ course or to register your interest by 24 April contact Lindsay Nakhoul at our Pastoral Planning Office tel (02) 9831 4911 or email email@example.com
The mission of our Church is to engage the world as it really is in Him, to engage the world as it really is and calls to be in Christ. The forming of missionary disciples, leaders and pastoral councils for this task is necessary, essential even, for the future of a world in which peace, the dignity of human life and the poor in spirit and circumstance are not always held in regard.
The best contribution we can make to this situation as parishes and disciples is to be ourselves, to be formed in a catholicity and transcendence of vision, in a sense of ‘hope against all hope’ (Rm 4:18), that faith makes possible.
Our Diocesan Pastoral Plan commits us to this task of mission with energy, direction and the tremendous giftedness of our people.Daniel Ang – Director
Pastoral Planning Office
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
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