On the weekend of the 22-23 February, Faith in Our Future was launched across our Diocese in our parishes, among our migrant communities and schools. Thank you for the tremendous response to the release of our Pastoral Plan, the positive feedback to our new look website (www.faithinourfuture.org.au) and the commitment of both clergy and parishioners to rethinking the ways and means of evangelisation in their local communities of faith!
Containing almost 100 ideas for parish renewal and containing announcements about future directions for our Diocese, Faith in Our Future has already been taken up by numerous parishes in planning for their ministries, groups and evangelisation in the wider community. If your community has not yet started using the plan or is looking for support or guidance, contact our Pastoral Planning Office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
There has also been considerable interest in our planning process in other Australian dioceses, including from parish priests outside of our Diocese who plan to use the Parramatta document as the basis of pastoral life in their local communities. The Spirit and the Bride are at work in the planting of new seeds right across our Australian Church and it is remarkable to see Faith in Our Future become a cornerstone in that future!
In the week following the launch of our plan, the parish pastoral council at Mary Immaculate Parish, Quakers Hill, met to discuss the Pastoral Plan and the year ahead. Our Pastoral Planning Office met with these leaders and shared an overview of their parish life from research and consultation feedback, and discussion took place about the best practices of evangelising parishes both locally and abroad. Our Office will be working with Fr Ruben and his team throughout the year in building up the renewed vision and ministries of this young and vibrant community.
One of the issues to emerge in discussion was the need for each of our parishes to have and share a compelling vision or identity which parishioners and non-members of the community can understand and engage. What do our parishes see as their very particular mission in the local community and how can the ministries and actions of the parish reflect this identity with consistency and real commitment? These fundamental questions lie at the heart of our self-understanding as a Church.
Parish secretaries also received their own guide to the Pastoral Plan following the launch. It was underlined how essential this role is in the growth and mission of our communities. By extending welcome to visitors, providing support and information to our clergy, parish teams and parishioners, coordinating ministries and by their personal initiative and witness, parish secretaries play a pivotal role in shaping the identity and evangelising potential of our faith communities. Parish secretaries are also invited to contact our Pastoral Planning Office which is ready to provide support in their ministry and welcome.
In other news, the parish of St Michael’s at Baulkham Hills is meeting this weekend to form a welcoming committee in response to the Pastoral Plan, while leaders of the parishes of St Patrick’s, Blacktown, and St Michael’s, Blacktown South, are also meeting to discuss Faith in Our Future in the coming week, to discern those actions on which they can work together, drawing from the Pastoral Plan for inspiration.
The Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council at St Michael’s, Blacktown South, Mr Michael Zarafa, shared by way of parish bulletin, “By now, you would all have had the opportunity to view the Pastoral Plan, outlining ways we might grow and share our faith across the Diocese over the next five years. Shortly our combined Parish Leaders will meet to discuss practical ways we might put the plan into action across all five priorities in our officially ‘twinned’ parishes. . . We are a missionary church founded on disciples who had to embrace the larger world and share their faith, rather than remain huddled together in that familiar upper room.” It is for this movement out into the wider community, bearing the salt and light of the Gospel, for which our Pastoral Plan exists and offers itself as a resource to each and every parish of the Parramatta Diocese and beyond.
Finally, it is wonderful to share news from our African communities, with chaplain Fr Christopher Antwi-Boasiako working with the Nigerian, Ghanaian, Zimbabwean, and South Sudanese communities in reading through Faith in Our Future and in using the implementation guide for migrant communities for the year ahead (see Faith in Our Future, p.66). Our diversity as a Diocese is an enduring gift, revealing the richness of the mission of evangelisation to which we are called in common.
Thank you to each of you for sharing in this exciting journey of renewal and intentional discipleship in the Diocese of Parramatta. More copies of our Pastoral Plan are available from our office which you can contact through this website. With every blessing in your mission and ministries,
Director, Pastoral Planning Office