Faith in Our Future Blog - April 2012
On Thursday night (19th April) we gathered with the parishioners of Good Shepherd Parish at Plumpton for our tenth consultation of the year! Thank you to all participants for their warm welcome, overwhelming hospitality and enthusiasm toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
Parishioners were eager to engage with the overview of the Diocese, commenting particularly on the potential of the Diocese given the youthfulness of Parramatta Catholics, the vitality of many parishes including at Plumpton and the availability of the Catholic school system.
The presence and energy of faith and life groups such as the Legion of Mary was noted, as well as the rich experience of ethnic and cultural diversity at Good Shepherd Parish which reflects to a great degree the vibrancy of the wider Diocese. The need to foster the integration of these diverse groups was raised as an ongoing challenge, with personal exchange being affirmed as critical to a shared sense of community and a unified mission. It was noted that many opportunities for strengthening spiritual and social bonds already exist within parish communities, and could be shared through the Diocesan Pastoral Plan as it engages the shared wisdom of the many communities consulted throughout the year.
The need to communicate better about existing programs and services was another focal point of conversation, with participants pinpointing the role of parish priests in this effort at weekend liturgies as well as more deliberate and structured promotion of events at a parish level. The importance of welcoming and a spirit of hospitality were identified as key to community growth and engagement, as was the need for prayer and reflection beyond the liturgy, in home groups and small communities of spiritual support and enrichment.
Thank you to all those who joined us, for your time and commitment to our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. Our thanks also goes to the hospitality and parish team for making the evening such a warm and vibrant gathering. Please keep in touch with us as the consultations continue and don’t forget you can share any further ideas on our pastoral priorities through the survey available on this website. We look forward to our next consultation at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, St Marys, on the 3rd May!
Yours in Christ, Daniel
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On Wednesday night (18th April) a special consultation was held at the Institute for Mission, bringing together past and present students of the Institute, CatholicCare Ambassadors and Pastoral Associates from across the Diocese.
It was an opportunity to tap into particular sources of vitality that animate the life of the Parramatta Diocese, and draw on the pastoral experience and theological insight of lay men and women and religious who are at the coalface of ministry and service in our communities.
The first half of the evening was dedicated to our five diocesan pastoral priorities and participants spread themselves evenly across the areas of focus. In the area of family life, the connection of sacramental programs, particularly at baptism, and social activities including playgroups was underlined as being of particular significance.
The importance of witness and testimony was highlighted by those who looked at youth as a priority, and the possibility of paid youth workers and teams was raised though the issue of funding was an ongoing question. The need for consistent training and formation of youth leaders was highlighted while the role of Catholic schools in the formation of the new generations was again pressed as an opportunity to engage.
Parish based ethnic support groups was raised as an prospect, with referrals to such a group ideally flowing from other sources including St Vincent de Paul, parishioners and schools. In the area of laity and clergy, the need to establish ongoing formation, theological and pastoral, as a norm for ecclesial ministers was emphasised as was personal promotion and awareness-raising of the formation opportunities already available within the Diocese.
Personal outreach to others was also stressed in the area of evangelisation, with intentional communities of disciples understood as arising out of relationships of witness, mutual support and ongoing invitation to growth and communion. The use of social media was identified as a complementary part of building relations and connections with a wider audience.
Four extension questions were also introduced to the consultation at IFM, focusing on the area of better communication between the Diocese, diocesan agencies and parish communities; the engagement of parents with the faith through our Catholic schools; the means of increased collaboration between parishes; and other key initiatives desired toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. We will be working through these responses in the coming week.
Our sincere thanks goes to all those who attended and contributed their ideas. Your thoughtfulness, dedication and sense of responsibility for the life of the Church was inspiring and uplifting. It underscores for us the importance of input and ownership of the Pastoral Plan by all members of the Diocese, including at the levels of family, parish, deanery, and agency.
Don’t forget that our first interim report is available on this website and will also appear in the May edition of the Catholic Outlook. It includes a response from Bishop Anthony and ourselves to the consultation sessions held thus far.
Tonight we head to Good Shepherd Parish at Plumpton and we’ll be sharing their feedback with you in the coming days!
Yours in Christ, Daniel
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