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Faith in Our Future Blog - June 2013

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Good News in the Parramatta Diocese

17/06/2013

Thank you to all those who have had their say about our Diocesan Pastoral Plan by submitting their feedback on our draft parish-based goals. It is not too late to participate and be in the draw to win one of three prizes, including an iPod nano. Simply click on this link to help shape our future direction as a Diocese.

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There have been some significant developments in the Diocese more generally which are important to share with all of our subscribers. Bishop Anthony recently blessed the first stage of a new site that has been identified, purchased and improved for the purposes of a new diocesan seminary. You can read the Bishop’s address here. With the seminary site at St Marys at capacity, and with increased numbers of seminarians anticipated into the future, the new site at Harris Park provides the ideal location for the training of future priests. For the moment, our seminarians are living on site in temporary accommodation while Stage Two of the project begins in earnest. This will see the Diocese build enough rooms for our present seminarians and for some more. The seminary is a symbol of our confidence that the recent increase in vocations to the priesthood in the Diocese of Parramatta will continue. Of course, we need your support in growing priestly vocations, religious vocations as well as the support of families and marriage within our Diocese. You might share this story with your friends and family.

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Another good news story in the Diocese is the opening of ‘The Cloister Bakery’ at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Wafting aromas of freshly brewed coffees, speciality hand-made cakes and sandwiches will now greet local parishioners and visitors, workers, and members of the general public when they visit the Cathedral in Parramatta. You can read more about this project here 

Located on the ground floor of historic Murphy House, the Cloister Bakery will open weekdays 7am to 4pm from Monday 17 June, but there are already plans to expand trading to weekends. Project Manager for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, Joe Cashman, is coordinating the project and hopes that the Cloister Bakery will give people more of a reason to stay after Mass, or to come and see the Cathedral Precinct. “The idea comes from the early churches in Europe which had bakeries within their Cloisters, this was to allow for travellers and pilgrims to rest and eat before continuing on their journey. It is essentially about extending Christian hospitality,” Mr Cashman said.

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Indeed, the importance of hospitality was underlined throughout our consultation process, as an important element for all Catholic parishes and ministry groups to build upon as a response to the hospitality of God himself. Jesus serves as the paradigm of our own response to our neighbour, whether friend or stranger, and this sense of welcome was not ancillary to his mission to proclaim the Kingdom but in fact central to that proclamation. That ‘all are welcome’ in our Diocese and in our parishes must be a message that is shared with others in the spirit of a new evangelisation. People are often hungry for the community that we experience in the Church. Our parish communities, such as the Cathedral Parish, are central in extending welcome and hospitality to fellow Catholics and to the wider community as well. Congratulations to all those involved in this latest good news story.

As we continue our work on the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, please send us any good news that is taking place in your part of the Diocese. You can email us at pastoralplanning@parra.catholic.org.au  and we’ll share some of the highlights with all of our readers in the coming weeks. While our Pastoral Plan will be launched in February 2014, we need not wait to make hospitality and welcome a part of our everyday life as the Catholic people of Parramatta.

Finally, look out for our latest piece on the Pastoral Plan in the July issue of the Catholic Outlook which will update you on our progress. Until then, every blessing and hope to see you at the Cloister Bakery in the days and weeks to come!

Yours in Christ,

Daniel Ang


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National Pastoral Planning Conference

04/06/2013
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Fr Paul and I recently attended the National Pastoral Planners’ Network Conference held on the Gold Coast, Queensland. The network brings together those working in the area of pastoral planning for dioceses across Australia and New Zealand.

As the planning team for our own Diocese of Parramatta, the conference provided an important opportunity to learn from others in the field and to share insights gained from our own process here in Western Sydney. Each diocese has its own gifts and faces its own particular challenges while sharing a commitment to the one Gospel and the best of our Catholic tradition. It was inspiring to hear the good work that is being done across the country and abroad.

The opening address was provided by Archbishop Mark Coleridge who underlined the need for a genuinely missionary Church, focused on Christ as the fulfilment of the deepest longings of the world. Acknowledging the Church’s tendency toward an unhealthy introspection in the wake of the Reformation and in the face of modernity, the Archbishop reaffirmed a personal encounter and proclamation of Jesus in the midst of the Church as the central imperative of our work, which he summed up neatly as “mission planning”.

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The keynote address recalled for me the Second Vatican Council’s insistence that the Church was “missionary by its very nature” (Ad Gentes 2). It follows that our parishes, diocesan agencies and people do not exist for themselves but for mission. This mission is not a territorial concept, about going to a particular place or limited to service overseas, but about a quality of daily living which expresses the love and will of God who seeks to bring all humanity to salvation and to knowledge of the truth. Mission challenges us all, as a diocese and personally, to respond with ever greater love to the mission of God that we encounter in the face of Jesus.

Subsequent keynotes from Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference for Pastoral Life, and Australian theologian Richard Lennan focused on the need for a receptive Church, open to the questions of our people and our time as well as attentive to the resources of our Catholic tradition, not as a burdensome or unmoving weight, but as a resource for creative living in the present and future.

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Several internal and external influences on the Church were also presented by Richard Lennan for our consideration as Church workers seeking to foster a common sense of mission in our respective dioceses. There were the internal tensions over the last fifty years in interpreting and living the Second Vatican Council, the desire for a more definite ‘Catholic identity’ twinned with longings for more personal forms of Catholic life; then there is the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis which has deeply undermined the credibility of the Church, the effects of migration and the ever changing relationship between clergy and laity that also shapes our Catholic reality. External influences on the Church were also recognised, including the need for hope amidst the darkness of human experience and the challenge of pluralism which comes at the same time as greater global interdependence.

It became clear to us that pastoral planning is challenged with the work of mediating between our Catholic tradition and our present context, without neglect of either as we seek to support the flourishing of faith in this Diocese. The views that you have shared through the consultation process and the wise advice submitted to us in hardcopy and online have been a part of this communal discernment about our future as the people of Parramatta.

Don’t forget you can still submit your response to our draft parish goals by clicking on this link. We cannot plan for a future alone and need your contribution to make our plan the best guide for our future years that it can be.

As we return to our work on our Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future, there is a deep sense of the need to honour our past, understand our present reality and be open to new opportunities for the future. We will keep in touch as we finalise our parish goals with your help and prepare the central vision of our Pastoral Plan which we hope will engage all our people in the mission that lies before as disciples of the Risen Jesus.

Yours in Christ,

Daniel Ang


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