A Special Consultation at the Institute for Mission
On Wednesday night (18th April) a special consultation was held at the Institute for Mission, bringing together past and present students of the Institute, CatholicCare Ambassadors and Pastoral Associates from across the Diocese.
It was an opportunity to tap into particular sources of vitality that animate the life of the Parramatta Diocese, and draw on the pastoral experience and theological insight of lay men and women and religious who are at the coalface of ministry and service in our communities.
The first half of the evening was dedicated to our five diocesan pastoral priorities and participants spread themselves evenly across the areas of focus. In the area of family life, the connection of sacramental programs, particularly at baptism, and social activities including playgroups was underlined as being of particular significance.
The importance of witness and testimony was highlighted by those who looked at youth as a priority, and the possibility of paid youth workers and teams was raised though the issue of funding was an ongoing question. The need for consistent training and formation of youth leaders was highlighted while the role of Catholic schools in the formation of the new generations was again pressed as an opportunity to engage.
Parish based ethnic support groups was raised as an prospect, with referrals to such a group ideally flowing from other sources including St Vincent de Paul, parishioners and schools. In the area of laity and clergy, the need to establish ongoing formation, theological and pastoral, as a norm for ecclesial ministers was emphasised as was personal promotion and awareness-raising of the formation opportunities already available within the Diocese.
Personal outreach to others was also stressed in the area of evangelisation, with intentional communities of disciples understood as arising out of relationships of witness, mutual support and ongoing invitation to growth and communion. The use of social media was identified as a complementary part of building relations and connections with a wider audience.
Four extension questions were also introduced to the consultation at IFM, focusing on the area of better communication between the Diocese, diocesan agencies and parish communities; the engagement of parents with the faith through our Catholic schools; the means of increased collaboration between parishes; and other key initiatives desired toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. We will be working through these responses in the coming week.
Our sincere thanks goes to all those who attended and contributed their ideas. Your thoughtfulness, dedication and sense of responsibility for the life of the Church was inspiring and uplifting. It underscores for us the importance of input and ownership of the Pastoral Plan by all members of the Diocese, including at the levels of family, parish, deanery, and agency.
Don’t forget that our first interim report is available on this website and will also appear in the May edition of the Catholic Outlook. It includes a response from Bishop Anthony and ourselves to the consultation sessions held thus far.
Tonight we head to Good Shepherd Parish at Plumpton and we’ll be sharing their feedback with you in the coming days!
Yours in Christ, Daniel