A full house at St Bernadette’s Parish,
On Friday night (24 February), over 160 parishioners from St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, and St Madeleine’s Parish, Kenthurst, filled our third consultation session toward our Diocesan Pastoral Plan!
It was another remarkable night. Thank you to the parish team at St Bernadette’s Parish for their hospitality and speedy organisation as tables quickly filled.
Thank you also to the many parishioners of Kenthurst who shared their hopes and aspirations in planning for a future of faith.
It was an energetic and dynamic evening, with many concrete suggestions toward a more focused approach to mission in the coming years. Once again, youth was the most popular priority with family life the second most popular issue of the night.
The suggestions made were both practical and challenging. The need to make the most of school holiday times for evangelising and recreation with youth in the context of faith was raised, as well as the need for a greater exchange of wisdom and resources between parishes in this area.
There was a call to better promote and articulate the benefits of Christian life and community to new generations and the particular influence of parents in the faith formation of the young was a strong point of consensus, one inviting a renewed pastoral response.
It was noticeable that the issue of responding to ethnic diversity within the Diocese was not chosen by many participants, despite the multicultural reality of the Diocese (at least a quarter of Parramatta Catholics were born overseas in a non-English speaking country).
Nevertheless, the contributions in this area were important, including the need to welcome newcomers, especially refugees, to our Catholic communities and the need to encourage familiarity with the diverse expressions of Catholic faith as it is lived and celebrated by these communities.
Technology was raised as a key component of evangelisation in future years, and it was suggested that there be an accessible point of contact for enquirers about the Catholic faith and good support for those seeking to learn more.
As shared on the night, it is vitally important that these priorities of mission, our lived response to the Gospel, are our first consideration in planning for our future. In reviewing our present situation and then focusing on our priorities and goals, the appropriate resources and structures to support that mission will emerge in due course. As none of us experiences or sees all the Church in its variety and fullness, addressing the focal points of this mission together helps clarify how our ‘perennial program’ – to know, love and imitate Christ – can be best translated into pastoral initiatives for our time and place.
A parishioner from Kenthurst shared their encouragement following the evening, “This was a very good format for allowing parishioners to think through, share and discuss their views on the variety of issues facing the Diocese, as we look to the future and how we can manage the opportunities which will come our way. In just a couple of hours everyone there had the opportunity to speak and for their ideas to be recorded. With replication of these meetings around other parishes the result should prove to be a wealth of ideas for the pastoral planning committee to draw upon for the ultimate benefit of us and generations to come.”
Thank you for all those who contributed their ideas and viewpoints on Friday night to the development of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. As our Church in Australia prepares to celebrate a ‘Year of Grace’ from this coming Pentecost, the God-given opportunities for our Diocese have indeed already begun to emerge through conversation, as gifts to be received by the way we live our Catholic faith in this new time.
Yours in Christ, Daniel
Photography by Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu