Faith in Our Future Blog - December 2013
As the season of Advent continues to unfold, a season of hope and anticipation, we look ahead to the launch of Faith in Our Future, our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, in February 2014. It is time to give thanks to the many hundreds of lay men and women, our priests and deacons, religious, chancery staff, agencies and ministries of the Diocese for their collaboration, advice and support over the past two years. We thank you, too, our almost 1,000 online subscribers for keeping connected and sharing in this major undertaking within our Diocese of Parramatta.
We are now bringing to a close our development of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, and begin to prepare for its launch with the establishment of support structures and resources to ensure that all of our parishes, ministry groups and members of our Diocese can be involved in this great renewal of our Gospel mission in Western Sydney.
Our Pastoral Plan will be a response of faith to the call of God to grow the Church and its mission by our best thinking, prayer and effort, all the while imploring the graces of God. It represents our Diocese taking a pro-active stance towards the future, a recognition that we need to refocus and prioritise our resources to best respond to change, not just in this moment but also in the years ahead.
As you will be aware, we are one of the youngest dioceses in Australia with almost 30% of Parramatta Catholics under 19 years of age. We are also one of the most diverse dioceses in Australia, if not the world, with a third of our people born overseas. We are experiencing population growth and the opening up of whole new suburbs right across our Diocese.
In the light of these realities, our best days are yet to come and our Pastoral Plan will be a statement of confidence in our future and also our confidence in you, our people, who shape the Church and its mission by your participation.
While there are undoubted challenges for our community of faith at this time, ‘sowing in tears’ in a time of repentance, our conversion as disciples is also propelled by hope, a forward-looking vision and anticipation of a stronger future of faith.
Faith in Our Future will include announcements about new initiatives, proposals for new churches and Mass centres, adoration chapels and the expansion of ministries and agencies. There will be new initiatives to address homelessness and social support needs, and more parish education and support in the area of marriage enrichment and relationships. The Pastoral Plan will also include nearly one hundred ideas for every parish and parish ministry group to engage. Customised implementation guides have also been prepared for all the people who lead the mission of our parishes by their service.
In the New Year, our pastoral planning website (www.faithinourfuture.org.au) will be overhauled and it will make available the complete and abridged versions of the Pastoral Plan. Hardcopy versions will also be distributed widely in February and March 2014 so that every Parramatta Catholic has a chance to contribute to the twenty-first century mission given to us by Christ. We want to be, as Pope Francis exhorts, “bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation” (Evangelii Gaudium 33).
As we conclude our work for the year, we wish you, your families and communities a joyous Christmas and we look forward to celebrating the launch of Faith in Our Future with you in 2014. As we anticipate the birth of Christ in this Advent season, we anticipate of the grace of renewal he offers in every age and to ever generation. We give Him thanks for the life and unity of our Diocese as a community of disciples on mission.
With our gratitude and best wishes,
Fr Paul Marshall and Daniel Ang
Pastoral Planning Team
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