Pastoral Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Rooty Hill, Doonside – 14 June 2012

Cultivating faith within our own families first and handing it on: Rooty Hill and Doonside

200 x 150 parishioners-18On Thursday 14thJune, forty seven people took part in the consultation held at the parish of St. Aidan’s Rooty Hill, which included parishioners from St. John Vianney at Doonside. It was raised that, as parishes, we are many parts of the One Body and that these parts need to interact more for a common purpose. The idea of more inter-parish events was suggested. The theme of the need to catechise families with the critical role of parents handing on faith came through on a number of occasions during the evening.

Some existing faith practices being celebrated between St. Aidan’s and St. John Vianney parishes include the Junior Legion of Mary and Holy Hour/ All-night Eucharistic Adoration. There was a call for addressing the divide between the zealousness of people active in apostolic groups in the parish and those who do not participate at all and that there is a need for different apostolic groups in the parish to work in unity with the priest.

200 x 150 parishioners4-5In support of family life, it was felt that parents don’t bring their children to the faith and that parents forget they have to answer for their children’s faith/lack of faith. It was proposed that we need to start within – from where we are – in our own family and then share it with other families. Some of the ways this could be done was through role modelling important values of our Catholic faith, reading the daily Gospels, and keeping families together in the faith through maintaining traditions such as Holy Days of obligation and feast days. It was suggested that forming choirs for the parish was another way of keeping families together in the faith.

parishioners3-11In terms of connecting with the young, there was strong endorsement of the importance of parents engaging with young people and that youth need adults to guide and help them. Youth especially need mentors and guides. We need to encourage youth to be more involved in ministry in the church (readers, liturgical ministry). There was a need to start looking at the messages given to young people and there was a concern that the messages given through youth ministry and schools were “not always accurate or authentic.” It was important to promote vocations by way of information workshops and a holy hour with reflection time. It was felt that many of our young people were poorly catechised i.e. not knowing the basic teachings of the Church.

In regard to Clergy and Laity it was felt that while we are good at our commitment to various duties around the parish that the challenge in front of us is in promoting active parish groups. In terms of Parish Leadership, it was stated that “we don’t have people prepared to stand up and take initiative and that too much still falls on father…” There was enthusiastic endorsement of the need for courses to be run on the pastoral dimensions of our faith and that these courses be run for parishioners at the parish level. Further, we need training for everyone (formation for trainers). It was felt that Introductory Sessions for Potential Catechists needed to be run either at the Institute for Mission or in the parish.  In the area of Liturgy, it was suggested that more deacons, seminarians, altar servers and missionary priests from overseas be engaged in parishes.

parishioners2-12The mission of the New Evangelisation: It was felt that more formation activities need to take place locally rather than at the Institute for Mission. Evangelisation starts in our own families with our encouragement of our younger family members to be involved in parish and faith life. The first objective of the New Evangelisation is to deepen the faith of those already practising their faith (formation courses). Can parishes and deaneries devise schedules of seminars and talks about our faith? Is there a way of presenting the Catechism with visual aids? We can begin Evangelisation by creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and to witness the joy of our Christian faith and community. An important follow-up to this was for family and home visitations. There is value in increasing faith awareness among family members and creating more co-operation between apostolic groups. When parish organisations gather together…then what? No answers….It was suggested that all the different parish apostolic groups should work in unity with the priest. Another thought was that there be a monthly gathering and fellowship of all organisations in the Parish.  Some other suggestions included youth having inter-parish discussions and also to note that Catholic schools are places where there are opportunities to engage in faith discussions. There is great value in retreats and encouraging people to immerse themselves in their prayer life. We need to begin to introduce our faith to non-Christians by handing out bibles, DVD’s pamphlets and books about our Christian faith and one cannot go past a personal invitation for people to join a parish group.

There was a keen-ness of spirit and encouraging suggestions from the parishioners of Rooty Hill and Doonside. The scriptural idea of the One Body and many parts and of the need for these parts to interact more with each other has much to offer Pastoral Planning as does the need to start evangelisation within our own families.

If the parts of the Body are dynamised, so, too, will be the Body of Christ in our Diocese.

Fr. Paul Marshall

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