Listening to Local Energies at St Marys and St Clair
Fifty eight parishioners from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, St Marys, and Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair, participated in our most recent consultation on Thursday 3rd May. It provided a valuable opportunity to hear of the pastoral initiatives already underway in the area and surfaced opportunities for the Diocese as a whole.
One of the prominent themes of the evening was the integration of diverse ethnic cultures and faith taking place at St Clair, including in the celebration of the liturgy. It was suggested that the stories of ethnic communities and persons be shared at appropriate times in the parish, raising awareness of the challenges and richness of diverse lives. For its part, St Marys shared the vital outreach to youth in the local community enabled by the Don Bosco Youth Centre. It underscored the need to consider local services and commitments already in the place in the development of the Pastoral Plan.
During the table feedback, some of the challenges named included the lack of sustained commitment in ministry due to burnout, a reality which invites a reconsideration of the ways in which we do and support ministry.
In the area of vocations, it was suggested that young people be given the opportunity for a week of ‘live-in’ experience of the priesthood or religious life without the demands of formal commitment reserved for the next stage of enquiry. There was also an emphasis on the need to promote the breadth of vocations – single life, clergy and religious, married life, as well as support those in widowhood or times of transition.
In the area of youth there was a focus on representation of youth leaders on the committees and in the ministries of the Diocese, the need for effective formation and training of youth, connecting a wider audience of young people to communications already in place (e.g. the Bishop’s Facebook page and homilies online) while also providing opportunities to learn about prayer.
The priority of evangelisation surfaced the need to invite ‘outside families’ into parish life and giving them an opportunity to journey together in faith. There were suggestions to reach out to men especially. There was an expressed concern that faith engagement in our Catholic schools remained a challenge while another felt need was the channeling of energy into service of the growing number of the aged in society and the question of parishes could better assist in this pastoral care.
Further ideas raised included the promotion of sponsorship for priests of diverse ethnic backgrounds, better preparation of overseas priests for ministry in Australian parishes, marriage preparation conducted by married couples, and reaching out to the family as a ‘domestic Church’.
The consultation expressed a real desire of people to make a difference with their faith and we thank parishioners of both parishes for their participation, insight and generous sharing of ideas. The feedback from this evening has already been sent to both parishes and we hope will enable planning at a local level in anticipation of the Diocesan Plan in the year to come!
Yours in Christ, Fr Paul Marshall