Richmond and Windsor Parishes- Outreaching to those who are ‘on the edge’
Fifty four people from the Richmond/Windsor area met last Monday night. The gathering was in the parish hall, which is an extension of the original church built in 1859.
The importance of Family came through strongly: the need to socialize more after Mass; the need for the priest to welcome newcomers at every Mass and direct them to appropriate information and sign-up sheets; the need to develop a Welcome Package for parishes. It was felt that Baptism preparation could be given during pregnancy; for those who are sick and elderly in hospital that there is a need for families to inform their parishes because privacy laws don’t allow hospitals to contact parishes. The importance of home visitation was stressed along with the need to connect with non-baptised children and families. It was felt that connections need to be built between Bede Polding High and Parish Liturgy/celebrations. A way to connect Parish/School would be through a Family Liaison Person (CEO model, Sydney) and this is a way to engage with parents.
Good homilies were considered to be important and they need to be crafted and aimed towards Young People. It was thought there was a need to modernize music aimed at the young and that we need to encourage youth participation and ask them what they want from their faith and their parish. We need to look at what students are being taught in Religious Education. There is a real need to emphasise the unique role young people have and how important they are and that they can make a difference in society.
The existing strengths of our Clergy and Laity relationship were found in Café series of faith presentations, social gatherings, the pastoral council support of the priest and the varieties of ministries found in parishes. The challenges to Clergy and Laity include the need for good adult faith formation and catechesis, supporting the priest in the management of the parish, better communications and more witness of the priest in local schools and the bishop at the parish level. A leading question proposed by the group was: Is it possible for the Parish Priest to delegate more?
With New Evangelisation it was felt that we “do keep trying” but we need to learn the meaning of evangelization from other parishes who are doing it better and even to learn methods of approach from non-Catholic communities. Areas of challenge were “that we don’t act like a missionary Church” and that we don’t reach out enough to non-Catholics or disconnected Catholics. Schools were seen as potential mission-areas and there is a great need to deepen the connection between schools and parishes. We need to establish welcoming committees. There is a need to promote more strongly bible study prayer groups, prayer groups and missionary works. A challenging comment included “ If we are really serious about bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to life, into reality, and into the world, why are we not reaching out at this stage to the vast majority of Catholics who have become estranged from the church to ask what is working well for them and what changes need to be made for them who have become estranged from the church….” A partial answer to this was that the various agencies of the church such as the CEO and CatholicCare are, themselves, evangelizing agents in the Diocese who are already reaching out and touching those disconnected from the Church. The question was posed how these agencies could be made more effective in reaching out to those disconnected? E.g do a survey of our parish-school families- ask them how many do NOT go to church regularly-ask them why not and what do they need?
There was a real sense of care and concern and the need to outreach especially to those ‘on the edge Catholics’. I was enthused by the energy and good-will of the Richmond-Windsor people who entered into consultation last Monday night. May the Spirit of Pentecost and the foundation stones of this consultation lead us on with hope and mission to an enlivened “ Faith in our Future.”