Rydalmere, Dundas Valley: Openness to new ways of being Parish
Last Wednesday night (23 May), despite State of Origin football, brave souls from Holy Name Parish at Rydalmere and St. Bernadette’s at Dundas Valley braved the cold and engaged with the issues of pastoral planning. The group posed the question of how, as parishes, do we know which families are in need? And how do we care for those families when their plight is known?
Family Life and Youth were the big issues for discussion. In terms of Supporting Family Life an issue named was the need to turn and look outwards to the families attending Mass and most especially the need to look out for new families. Discussion pointed to outreach to new and ethnic families and while there was a real openness for inclusion, it was felt that new pathways could be explored in terms of welcome such as forming a pastoral support group, welfare committee and/or family groups where areas of need can be met in a more personal environment.
Some suggestions for the Connecting of Youth included surveying high school and primary students to see what they want and need and then to initiate this survey in co-operation with the schools. Also, to employ an active youth worker to be shared between parishes and to have more involvement from the Deanery. Another thought was the need to design special Liturgy e.g. a musical band and engage the young people in music and liturgy.
With engaging ethnic groups in the parish, a suggestion was to initiate smaller groups of families sharing a meal and story-telling on a regular basis after Saturday night Mass. Over time, all parishioners would receive an invitation to come to a meal. The evening would begin with a fun ice-breaker to put people at ease followed by a meal and sharing about family and culture.
New Evangelisation: There was a strong conviction that, as Catholics, we are reluctant to share the truth and the meaning of our faith and that we are too nice in our approach and need to be more firm and forward about professing what we believe. It was felt that we reframe the school RE program K-12 especially in the State schools: there was the sense that the current program is pitched too high for unchurched families. Another idea was that we establish a Catholic TV channel / Catholic Website and have a more up-front presence on talk-back radio.
Yours in Christ, Fr Paul Marshall