Pastoral Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Baulkham Hills – 17 February 2012

A Special Night at St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills

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Last Friday night we were at St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills, where an astonishing 115 people took part in the second of our parish consultation sessions! What a grace-filled experience! Extra tables were brought out as people continued to flow through the doors before our 7pm start.

300 x 200 baulkhamhills2-3 - CopyParish priest Fr Michael O’Callaghan led us in prayer before we launched into our overview of the present situation of our parishes, ministries and needs. Once again, initiatives directed toward youth and young adults drew the most enthusiastic response, while the areas of family life and lay and priestly vocations were also popular subjects of discussion.

The responses were diverse and marked by a strong commitment to share the best of our Catholic life with present and future generations.

Creating more opportunities for families to interact and exchange faith and life in parishes was one suggestion; another being the offer of interactive commitments between youth groups and other organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society which has a significant presence in parishes and the Diocese.

172 x 237 baulkhamhills5The potential to connect high school students with faith and enthusiasm with their primary school counterparts was raised as a potential aid to evangelisation, while it was suggested that a stepwise pathway for youth within the Church to develop leadership skills was also needed.

In the area of ethnic diversity, it was pointed out that in order to welcome newcomers to parish or community life, it was necessary to be able to first identify new arrivals in a more organised way. The question remained as to what parish or diocesan structures could support such an effort. making and ministry more often, while the need to promote the permanent diaconate was also voiced.

Positive media engagement was affirmed as a future area of improvement while formation for evangelisation was also noted in the conversation.

300 x 200 baulkhamhills3a-2 - CopyThe readiness of those present at the consultation session to take up the challenge of outreach to others and best practice and collaboration in ministry was striking and an encouraging sign for our future renewal.

As I drove home, energised by the event and the number and quality of participants, what struck me most deeply was the willingness of our people to engage and bring forward anew the best of our tradition, commit ourselves to the mission of evangelisation in this time and place with creative fidelity. Friday night was a reminder that the Spirit continues to move through our Church as the bearer of possibility, revealing that the best of our life as a community of faith and witness to the Gospel is not behind us but rather yet to come.

300 x 200 IMG_0493_1 - CopyThanks goes to the parish team at St Michael’s for their successful promotion of the event and St Michael’s School for their practical support.

We want to especially acknowledge parish priest Fr Michael and assistant priest Fr PJ; parish secretary Monica O’Callaghan, pastoral planning contact Paul Waite, school principal Dr Jennifer Fraser and our pastoral planning volunteer Monique O’Callaghan for making the evening possible!

Of course, our final words of gratitude go to the many parishioners of St Michael’s Parish for being a part of this conversation, for voicing their concerns and sharing their ideas with us toward a vibrant future of faith.

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