Our first Consultation
This past weekend (11-12th February) saw Bishop Anthony’s Pastoral Message, “Faith in Our Future” played in parishes across the Diocese, launching the consultation phase of our pastoral planning process. We hope you got to see it in your parish or school; if not, it also appears on the homepage of this website as well as on YouTube!
In the week before, we were hard at work distributing the Bishop’s DVD message to our parishes and Catholic schools across the Diocese.
As well, some 40,000 copies of the Catholic Outlook contained the Bishop’s Letter and Information Guide, and translations of these documents were also made available in Filipino, Maltese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese which are among our largest language groups. Sincere thanks to our dedicated translators and communications team for helping us in this important work! In addition, some 80,000 prayer cards were made available through parishes and schools to support our planning in faith.
It expresses one of our earliest commitments, that our shared hope, dedication and enthusiasm for the pastoral planning process would be underpinned by prayer.
And then . . . last night marked the beginning of our parish consultations! We started close to home at St Anthony of Padua Catholic Parish, Toongabbie.
The summer rain held off long enough to ensure a great gathering of some 60 people who shared their energy, enthusiasm and practical suggestions with us.
The conversation gave witness to the ‘faith of the faithful’ as a source of the Church’s life and was a sign of hope for our future mission.
What did people say? The most striking trend marked out by those who participated was the fact that the total numbers for the sacraments of initiation did not increase in proportion with our Catholic population growth in the Diocese over the last decade. Also, the reality is that after baptism, a significant proportion of our people are not seen again, or only rarely.
It was suggested that parents ought to be encouraged whenever possible to remain connected with one another following the baptism of their children.
But how to do this? Concrete initiatives were put forward, including creating opportunities for those
parents of the newly baptised to gather together again, in the context of mutual support in faith and life.
Formation in the sacramental life appears to be another key dimension in meeting this challenge.
What are the other ways that we can invite people to remain connected and enter into the gift and challenge of the faith and community that we ourselves value?
Much more was shared and ideas were raised in the areas of youth engagement, clergy support, and ethnic diversity. You can read a summary of some of the other responses in the upcoming March edition of the Catholic Outlook!
In the meantime, we head to St Michael’s Parish in Baulkham Hills this Friday night and over to St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, the following week.
We are close to confirming the last of the consultation dates across the Diocese.
Yours in Christ,