A focus on schools and parishes with Baulkham Hills South and North Rocks
On Thursday night (16th August, 2012), parishioners from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Baulkham Hills South, and Christ the King Parish came together at North Rocks to discuss initiatives toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. The gathering included representatives from associated school communities as well as youth representatives from the local parish.
Family life and the new evangelisation were the most popular priorities of the evening. It was affirming to read one table’s description of our parishes as ‘communities of hope’, recognising that our communities are already sharing faith and nurturing communion at a local level with great openness to building on that pastoral life into the future.
The need to provide better support for those who have lost a spouse or family member was raised as an continuing imperative for the Church now and into the future, as was the need to affirm our married couples throughout their relationship and gather parents of the recently baptised through liturgical celebrations and reunions. Our Catholic education system was named as a strong feature of our Diocese though it was felt parishes and schools needed to work more closely together to form children, especially teenagers, effectively in the faith. The combined witness of parish and school communities continues to be a strong theme of this consultation as a key relationship for future evangelisation.
Welcome was viewed as essential to a sense of ecclesial belonging and a registry of new parishioners was suggested in this respect. Inter-parish events were raised as a possible initiative to draw youth into involvement as was a dedicated youth team within each parish, if not already in place, to organise and coordinate pastoral activity.
Those who focused on the ethnic diversity of our Diocese suggested festivals and events at a local parish level to invite the exchange of faith and experiences between all members of our communities. This was also a recommendation picked up by some of our ethnic communities who have recently begun submitting their own responses to our pastoral plan.
In the area of laity and clergy, it was suggested that parishes themselves undertake processes of consultation to identify local needs and opportunities. It has certainly been one of our encouragements that planning need not wait for our Diocesan Pastoral Plan but can always be an activity of communities seeking to identify and live a common mission at a grassroots level.
Improving the visibility of our ministries and parish activities was a further suggestion while sharing practical wisdom across the Diocese was also recommended. It is hoped that the Pastoral Plan will be just one opportunity for the wisdom of our many parishes and chaplains to be shared through a common document, taking in your suggestions from our current process of conversation.
Finally, in the area of evangelisation the challenge of witness was front and centre of the discussion. To be an evangelising Church is to be a community that is itself evangelised by the Gospel, to be disciples who are faith-filled and expressing that faith through service and prayer. Other comments in this area of mission included the need of a greater presence in online social networks and also the commitment to follow up with new Catholics who have progressed through our RCIA process. Our schools were also named as a centre of evangelisation at the heart of the Church’s mission.
Thank you to both parish communities for contributing their vision at North Rocks and we look forward to the final consultations being held at Penrith, Mt Druitt, Kellyville, Springwood, Merrylands and Blackheath.
Our second interim report will be out in mid-September so please keep an eye on this website and blog, your parish bulletins and the next issue of the Catholic Outlook. It will also contain a message from Bishop Anthony and our own response as a pastoral planning team to the consultations thus far.
Yours in Christ,