Talking Families and Faith at Kellyville
On Thursday (30th August, 2012), parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, gathered for our most recent consultation. Thank you to the parish team for their hospitality and warm welcome!
Throughout the night both parishioners and the Franciscan friars of the parish spoke strongly about the issues of families in crisis. There was a keen awareness of the challenges facing today’s families and many unanswered questions about where to send families in emergencies and for after-hours care. There was a felt need to develop much more systematic and comprehensive outreach to families who had children with disabilities, and appropriate care was sought for these members of our community, particularly from the time of birth until school age. There was also an expressed desire for the more vigorous promotion of family prayer in general.
In the area of youth, it was affirmed that young people need continuous and active encouragement and motivation and, too often, there is a failure to call forth the potential of our young people. It was suggested that more needed to be done to facilitate the exchange of ideas between youth and their potential mentors (e.g. via social media) and a need to present the Gospel in a language that can be readily understood by today’s youth. It was imperative that we, as a Church, find ways to articulate beliefs in a contemporary context that was both faithful to tradition and world-engaging. Inviting dynamic and engaging outside speakers to share the Gospel was one approach for parishes to help motivate young people in their discipleship. Two other key areas to engage youth were identified: music ministry and homilies, with the latter being an opportunity to both affirm and challenge young people with the fullness of the Gospel message.
In the area of ethnic diversity, it was felt that we need to do more in building friendships through initiatives for the under 12 age-group, an effort that would foster understanding and communion across differing families and bring ethnic groups closer together with not only each other but with the whole parish community. The idea of implementing family groups was suggested as a way to cross cultural divides. Two significant holy days which were named as providing especial opportunity were Pentecost Sunday and Good Friday. There was the idea of ethnic based food fairs and the suggestion that a different ethnic group in the parish could be invited to co-ordinate a parish Mass once a month or so where feasible.
The journey of pilgrimage was shared as a vehicle for promoting better partnerships between clergy and laity and it was further felt that laity need to articulate their needs and desires to their clergy rather than remaining silent about the issues that concern them. There was a felt need to exercise shared initiative between clergy and the laity in the preparation of events, these gatherings strengthening the bonds and providing combined witness to our Church as a communion.
Positively, it was felt that the Church was endowed with sound organisational structures which are foundational for effective evangelisation. However, poor liturgies and poor pastoral practice were identified as a turn off to people who might otherwise engage with the life of the Church. As 25% of the Catholics of our Diocese are under the age of 14, the need to engage with the social media was imperative and Catholic theology was one area raised for promotion through Facebook and similar technologies. However, it was also recognised that social media could not take the place of vital human relationships which were essential to engaging new families with the faith at the start of school, for instance, and which underlined the ongoing importance of home visitation which brings community into the home. Other suggestions for the re-evangelisation of our people included short formation sessions about our faith, street-mission teams and social events that led people to consider a return to Mass.
It was a lively night of discussion and genuine engagement in the pastoral initiatives and challenges which stand before us. There was obvious synergy between the Franciscan brothers who participated and the people working in the parish towards a common good. Thank you to each and every one of the Kellyville participants for their input toward the Pastoral Plan. It has certainly given us key areas of focus which we will seek to engage in the coming months.
For all our subscribers and readers, please remember to pick up your copy of the September Catholic Outlook which contains our interim report on the feedback to date! Special copies of this report will also be available as a standalone document in the weeks to come so please look out for these and take one home for your family and friends. It includes a word from Bishop Anthony and our own response to the opportunities and challenges raised by you and your communities. As we soon turn to consider recommendations, we ask for your prayers and your continued support as we seek to honour your feedback as best we can, together with our clergy, diocesan agencies, ethnic communities and schools.
Yours in Christ,
Fr Paul Marshall