Strong contributions from the parishes of Quakers Hill-Schofields and Riverstone
On Tuesday 26th June, 2012, the parishes of Quakers Hill-Schofields and Riverstone came together in the Multipurpose Area of Mary Immaculate Primary School to share their ideas toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. Fr Ian McGinnity, parish priest of Mary Immaculate Parish, led us in prayer before we launched into conversation about future possibilities.
One of the affirmations of the evening was the pastoral care and support already provided in our many parish and school communities, which represent a gift that the Pastoral Plan hopes to extend and strengthen in the years to come. A challenge identified in the area of supporting family life was the need to better identify new parishioners and sustaining connections with our people between baptism and first communion. A strong idea to encourage exchange between parishes and schools was the need for parishes to be represented at school orientation days, whether by clergy and/or laity, witnessing to the integral faith dimension of our Catholic schools.
In the area of youth, the issue of succession in leadership was raised as essential in building sustainable ministry. Indeed, this seems to apply to many other areas of parish life where continuity and the invitation of new leaders in ministry are ongoing challenges. The need for young catechists, drawn from university students and other cohorts, was emphasised as an opportunity. We are certainly aware that the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) has begun to engage younger catechists in this way and we hope to see a growth in this engagement in future years as it allows young people to model to other youth the shape of discipleship and mission. The need for guidance in ways of prayer, formation about the Mass and youth participation in liturgical roles were seen as areas of improvement while social opportunities for youth before and after Mass was shared as a means of forming connections in the context of faith.
There was a deep appreciation of the faith and traditions of our ethnic communities and the call for a more organised approached to welcoming newcomers and migrants in our parish communities. The celebration of significant feast days and cultural events were raised once more as ways of reaching out and raising awareness of the richness of the Catholic community.
In response to the vocations of clergy and laity there was a call for the wisdom and experience of older generations to be allowed to enrich the community as a whole, while stronger formation in the common priesthood of the baptised faithful was another emphasis of the evening.
The commitment to evangelisation was clearly heard at the consultation, with outreach to young mothers, families in the parish and social justice outreach in schools being raised as prospects for future action. The need to be inclusive of the disabled was a further important area suggested toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
Thank you to all participants who joined us at Quakers Hill, for their hospitality to ourselves as a pastoral planning team and to each other in the sharing of ideas and a common faith. We look forward to updating you again soon with our second interim report which will summarise the key findings of the consultations since April 2012. This summary of viewpoints will also be shared with our diocesan clergy at an upcoming formation day and invite responses from each of our seven deaneries. As we take a break from consultations over the coming school holidays, please continue to keep us and our diverse parish communities in prayer as we approach the next recommendations phase of our planning process.
Yours in Christ,