Good Faith and Advice in Winston Hills
On Friday night (23 March) we were at the parish of St Paul the Apostle in Winston Hills for our last consultation before the Easter break. Some 70 parishioners joined in the conversation and the ideas and suggestions flowed throughout the night!
One of the many issues raised was that in the cut and thrust of parish life, it is an often small number of people that are involved in leadership and service. Active ministers are also often involved in more than one ministry, balance a number of parish, personal and professional responsibilities, and therefore the risk of weariness, burn out and the routinisation of ministry was ever present. It followed that there was an expressed need to invite others into service, not simply, however, to avoid fatigue but also so that the gifts and potential of innumerable others might enrich the community as a whole.
The need for formation in evangelisation was again a stated need, while the desire for young people to have ownership of pastoral initiatives in communities was raised. The difficulty of declining enthusiasm for established programs and initiatives was a comment made by two groups of participants, a reality linked perhaps to the limited circle of active ministers upholding ministries.
The idea of rotating youth masses around our deaneries was a suggestion toward encouraging youth participation, as well as the representation of youth on parish councils as an existing consultative body within parish life. Developing opportunities for participation and leadership for young girls in school and beyond was an additional aspiration voiced during the evening.
Ecumenical dialogue was named as an opportunity for sharing and the exchange of fresh ideas with other Christian communities, while the style and tone of homilies was viewed as a factor influencing participation in parishes. Participants also raised the need for our people to become more innovative and also joyful in their celebration of the faith, witnessing to the vitality of the Gospel and the Church community as a communion that offers life as well as challenge.
While the conversation is only in its beginning stages, we have been delighted and invigorated by the seven hundred people or so that have shared their voice and their advice at our consultation events so far and online through our website, which averages around three hundred visitors a week. The time and energy given to these conversations is a great sign of hope for our Church and contributes immensely to the development, discernment and substance of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
With many more consultations to take place, we would encourage all our blog readers to share the upcoming dates with their relatives or friends so that we can hear more of what matters to the people of our Diocese and how the Church can serve people better in the years to come.
Over the next few weeks, the Pastoral Planning team will begin processing the feedback gathered so far and sharing this with our diocesan agencies for their best thinking and response to the needs identified to date. Please keep us in your prayers in this important work and thank you to all those who have made the consultation phase of our pastoral planning process a truly joyful and uplifting experience. Keep an eye on this website for more to come!
Yours in Christ, Daniel