Pastoral Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Mt Druitt, Mt Druitt Sth – 26 Aug 2012

Hundreds participate in consultations at Mt Druitt and Mt Druitt South

Mt Druitt parishioners-27On Sunday (26th August 2012) a remarkable 290 people took part in the consultation sessions held at Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt, and Sacred Heart Parish, Mt Druitt South, offering written responses toward the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.

Our thanks goes to both parish priests, Fr Ed Dooley SJ and Fr Carl Ashton, and parish teams for encouraging participation in the process over a number of weeks and ensuring the wisdom and imagination of their communities were able to enter into a developing communal vision for our life as Church in the coming years.

The priority of family life was the focus of the responses gathered to date, with almost half of the responses looking at ways in which children and families as a whole might be supported in their worship of God, their understanding of the faith and their living of that faith in everyday life. The care for one another in these communities was affirmed as a strength, while challenges including encouraging the reading of Scripture, supporting family members overseas as an expression of mission, and the need of more programs to engage youth and younger children in the faith. Family retreats were also raised as a need among others.

Mt Druitt parishioners1-20In the area of youth, joyous liturgies were underscored as vital to a sense of belonging and as encouraging growth in faith among the young. Bible study was also raised as a need in our parishes, especially for youth who grow in their faith over time and need support and resources to do so. Contemporary praise and worship music was identified as attractive to youth while across-parish gatherings of young people was a further opportunity named.

In the priority of laity and clergy, the needs of older parishioners were raised as an important area of pastoral care that needed strengthening. Ensuring the availability of transport for older parishioners to take part in parish liturgies was emphasised. Formation for the laity was identified as critical to the future life of the Church and the Catechism was noted as a foundational document in this effort. How might we encourage the reading of this text as a starting point for a deeper knowledge of the faith, in both a local setting and throughout the diocese? Increased promotion of the priestly and religious vocations was also suggested with the emphasis on invitation, good clear messages and a variety of means of communication including online social media networks.

The need of tolerance and mutual understanding of different cultures was underlined by participants who considered ethnic diversity. This diversity was noticeable in the liturgies at Holy Family Parish on the weekend of consultation itself, with various forms of traditional dress on display. It served as a powerful reminder of the variety of cultures that characterise the Parramatta Diocese.

200 x 149 parishioners2-18Finally, there were a good number of responses in the area of the new evangelisation or outreach with the importance of our own witness again underscored as the key to persuasive and compelling invitations to faith. Offering welcome to non-church goers was a challenge while making the sacrament of reconciliation as accessible as possible was named as an opportunity. The offering of booklets to explain the Mass and encourage participation, particularly for newcomers, was a further practical suggestion among others.

It was a genuine joy to be with these communities on the weekend and listen to the communities of faith as they identified the vision and actions they held as vital for the future life of our Church. We hope that as the consultation process nears its conclusion the many people who have participated so far, and given their time and commitment to a shared future, have experienced the sessions as a time to take stock, to speak with one another and with ourselves as a diocesan team in the pursuit of new ways to live our Gospel mission in the years ahead. Remember that if you have further ideas and suggestions you would like to contribute, it is never too late. You can email us through this website and encourage family and friends to take part as well.

Yours in Christ,

Daniel Ang

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