A Vision of Pastoral Care at Wentworthville
On Tuesday night (20th March) we joined the parishioners of Wentworthville and Westmead at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Wentworthville, for our penultimate consultation session before the Easter break. We were met with great hospitality and Fr Paul Sireh led us in prayer before the night’s discussion began.
Among the points raised was the potential to foster small communities of learning, offering as they do a more intimate environment for participants to exchange faith and social engagement outside the context of liturgy. A related emphasis was on the need for formation in evangelisation at a local level so that all members of the Church can take responsibility for outreach, rather than simply a few.
In the area of family life, the offer of marriage preparation and also marriage enrichment were raised as essential to the support of families, and following up with the families of those recently baptised was named as needing a more coordinated response. The formation of the young was identified as both a parental responsibility and a responsibility of the whole community of faith.
In the area of ethnic diversity, there was a remarkable exchange of ideas. Some shared the important social and cultural support that chaplains provide for newly arrived and migrant groups, while the issue of integration was also identified as an ongoing challenge so that the diversity of faith expression and embodiment might enrich the Church as a whole. There was a willingness to wrestle with the tensions of unity and diversity, upholding the value of each as a part of a truly catholic experience of faith.
Religious Institutes and congregations were also identified as an ongoing gift to the Diocese, the charism of such communities being a source of a Spirit-led mission for lay men and women as well.
The pastoral care of the elderly was not forgotten, especially for those transitioning from independent living to nursing homes and hospices. The need for chaplains and relevant contact persons to keep the connection between the broader parish community and those living away from the parish was underlined. Pastoral care was also recognised as critical in evangelisation and outreach, especially at key moments when people may be encountering the Gospel and the Church anew, for instance, at baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Engaging with the full range of social media available was once again noted as essential to a Church that communicates, as well as ensuring local staff and personnel in parishes were proficient in the creative use of such technology.
These were just some of the insights gleaned from the evening and we thank all the participants for their enthusiasm and energetic contributions. It was wonderful to meet so many people of good faith from both parishes.
Yours in Christ, Daniel