Faith and vision in Blacktown
Last Thursday night (1st March), parishioners from St Patrick’s Parish, Blacktown, and St Michael’s Parish, South Blacktown, came together to share their ideas toward our Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
We began with an acknowledgment of the late Fr Gerry Iverson, a priest and friend who contributed so much to the life of the Diocese and whose ministry touched the lives of so many. Fr Robert Reidling led us in prayer before we turned to an overview of our diocesan life and trends.
As discussion began, it was wonderful to see an even spread of people take up each of the 5 pastoral priorities, the most even spread of participants thus far! The enthusiasm and commitment of participants toward a renewed future of mission was clear.
Those who considered ‘family life’ as a priority noted children’s liturgies as a positive initiative that continued to support families, however it was suggested that further resources for families to pray and live faith together were called for. Better support for men and fathers was a further area of need identified, as well as developing connections between families and raising awareness of services that could assist families, particularly during family crisis or breakdown.
The link between the parish, school and family was affirmed as a critical relationship for the faith development of young people as was the availability of audio-visual resources that would engage youth with contemporary issues of faith, justice and evangelisation.
The challenge of retaining newly arrived migrants in parish life was a challenge named by those who addressed the ethnic diversity of our Diocese, as well as the need to offer practical support including language services to encourage participation in parish life. The role of migrant chaplains was also noted as vital in fostering interaction between migrant groups and the broader Catholic community.
In the area of support for laity and evangelisation, similar themes emerged. Chief among these was the role of formation in supporting lay men and women in articulating their faith and sharing it with others. It was also suggested that a ‘welcome home’ program be considered to reconnect with those who may not be strongly connected with their parish community. Family support groups were once again raised as an aid to fostering faith connections, intentional discipleship and a means of outreach to other families who may not be so connected with community life.
Our thanks goes to the parish team, youth interns and hospitality team for their assistance and to the parishioners of St Patrick’s and St Michael’s for giving their time and energy to the conversation. The quality of the responses was outstanding and focused on the task of serving people better in faith.
Yours in Christ, Daniel