Faith in Our Future Blog - October 2012
In the past few weeks we have continued to meet with our diocesan agencies to discuss the feedback you provided through our live parish consultations and also through our website (www.faithinourfuture.org.au). The range of services provided by these agencies in support of our parish communities and chaplains is wide-ranging, spanning from formation in liturgical ministry, through to the professional development and support of our catechists, and social support services that embrace a wide array of people in need.
We have learnt a great deal through this experience. We heard of the effective collaboration of catechists and parish sacramental teams in many of our parishes in service to the young, the extensive support that is provided by our Marriage Tribunal to the Eastern Catholic Churches, the practical response of our Catholic schools to the ‘preferential option for the poor’ through co-contribution schemes and counselling and family services, a commitment that finds expression as well in centres for refugees and asylum seekers that the Diocese actively supports. It has certainly enlarged our perspective on the work of the Church in Western Sydney, a missionary spirit that the Pastoral Plan will seek to nourish through inviting a renewed proclamation and practice of the Gospel in our midst.
This renewed missionary zeal has been the very focus of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation which has just concluded at the Vatican after three weeks of discussion and deliberation. Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the Synod Fathers canvassed a range of pastoral initiatives for strengthening outreach to those baptised who have perhaps lost a living sense of faith. You can read more about the first output of the Synod here. As you will read, it includes a sound proposal to assemble ‘qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelisers today.’ What qualities do you consider essential to our future evangelisers in the Church? You might share your thoughts with us through our website. We are certainly keeping our eyes on developments flowing from the Synod while we continue to focus on the ideas surfaced by you at our diocesan consultations.
Thank you to all those who have written to us in recent weeks, sharing your further suggestions and also your prayerful support and affirmation as we work toward our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. It is much appreciated and encouraging. The upcoming November issue of the Catholic Outlook includes a short update on our progress as we enter the final months of the year. Until our next blog update,
Yours in Christ,
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The pace of work toward our Diocesan Pastoral Plan has not slowed since the conclusion of the parish consultations in mid-September. The past three weeks in particular have been dedicated to sharing the feedback from these consultations with our diocesan agencies for reflection on the way in which these responses shape their ministries across the Diocese. For those who were unable to attend one of our live consultations, these diocesan agencies support parishes in a variety of ways, through offering formation opportunities, social support, personnel and financial services and advice, as well as numerous other resources for our clergy, religious and lay leaders to name just a few. These agencies include CatholicCare Social Services, the Institute for Mission, the Office for Worship, and Catholic Youth Parramatta among others.
This process of discussion with our agencies continues in the coming weeks alongside the development of recommendations for parishes based on the wealth of ideas submitted by consultation participants. We hope that the Pastoral Plan will prove a helpful resource for parishes to consider renewed initiatives and forms of outreach which have been put forward and practiced by other communities than their own.
Part of our current work is also liaising with National Church Life Survey Research which will provide us with up-to-date demographics and other statistical data for our parishes and Diocese as a whole from the 2011 NCLS survey and Census data. For those interested in trends in the Australian experience since the Second Vatican Council, you may be interested to read a new publication which includes a chapter from Dr Bob Dixon of the ACBC Pastoral Projects Office, Vatican II: Reception and implementation in the Australian Church.
Of course in the past week we have celebrated the 50th anniversary of Vatican II which remains a touchstone for our life as Church. You can access the sixteen documents of the Council through our 'Key Documents’ section as these are relevant to our planning in faith, bringing forth the Church as a communion, as charismatic and apostolic, missionary in intent, responsive to the needs of the age with the hope, dynamism and commitment of the Gospel. The universal Year of Faith which has just commenced also provides a rich backdrop for our own planning as the Parramatta Diocese.
Finally Daniel Ang, our Pastoral Planning Officer, will be addressing the promise and challenges of Vatican II in a special public lecture being held at the Institute for Mission, Blacktown, this Thursday 18th October from 7-9pm. All are welcome to attend and join in the conversation (see here for more information). It will be a wonderful and enriching way of commemorating the Council that continues to guide our life and mission as a Church.
Until our next blog update, every blessing and thank you for being a part of our planning in faith,
Fr Paul Marshall and Daniel Ang
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