Our new Diocesan Pastoral Plan moves forward with several key developments in the past weeks. One of the priorities of our Pastoral Plan was for the Chancery to achieve a renewed focus on service delivery to our parishes and people, and growing the resources available to the Bishop, parishes, chaplaincies and agencies of the Diocese.
Recent changes in this direction include the establishment of a Family and Life Office with the appointment of Mr Ben Smith as Director, the renewal of Catholic Youth Parramatta with the appointments of Mr James Camden and Sr Rosie Drum MGL as Director and Assistant Director respectively, the appointment of Mr Tony Jose as Director of Financial Services and Mr Michael Cowdroy as Director of Communications and Development.
With this injection of fresh energy and pastoral intent the Diocese seeks to support and grow our response to the Gospel in the many areas of need and mission that make a claim on us today and will call for our best thinking and initiative into the future. A focus on families was a strong theme of our consultation process over the past two years. Together with the formation of youth and parish development, it is widely recognised that the ‘domestic church’ of the family is key to our growth and sharing of faith as a Diocese. You can connect with our new Family and Life Office on Twitter @parrafamlife and can expect to see the fruits of these new offices and ministries in the weeks and months ahead.
In a parish context it is moving to see the creativity and resourcefulness that Faith in Our Future has sparked among the leaders of our parishes as they seek to translate our common diocesan priorities into a language and actions that suit their faith communities.
We will soon join Sacred Heart Parish, Mt Druitt South, at weekend Masses to call forth a parish pastoral council to assist in leadership of the community into its future life and mission. Planning for change has also begun at St Matthew’s Parish at Windsor, St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills, and Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook, where parish pastoral councils are examining the opportunities to strengthen their pastoral activities in the light of Faith in Our Future.
We have underlined with all of our parish pastoral councils that there is a need to reach out into the broader parish community and engage other lay men and women into the discernment and conversation about the goals of the parish, so as not to limit the ownership and support of parish programs and initiatives to a few. Parish planning is an effective and proven means by which new people can be invited into existing or future forms of service. When our people experience a deeper sense of belonging to and genuine involvement in the mission of Christ our parishes will grow.
Having recently celebrated 175 years since their foundation, the parishioners of St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith, will soon gather to discern directions for their future. We will underline the need to translate parish culture into a new missionary key, highlight the need for succession planning in parish ministries and collaboration with other parishes as ways of ensuring consistency and creativity in our response to the needs of the time.
Other good news from our Pastoral Planning Office includes the development of a new resource focused on welcome and evangelisation that will be distributed in the coming weeks. It will provide parishes and leaders with additional practical support to make the most of the 100 ideas for renewal contained within the Pastoral Plan. Keep an eye on our website (www.faithinourfuture.org.au) for this new initiative.
Our partnership with Alpha Australia, the Siena Institute and Catholic Mission continues as we organise new forms of support for laity as part of growing and sharing the faith of our Diocese, and beyond our own boundaries we have been delighted to provide advice to the Melkite Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand as they initiate their own process of planning in parishes. We are also assisting ACU Campus Ministry in planning for effective evangelisation in a tertiary environment.
We are always eager to hear of the best practices and initiatives taking place in your parish or faith group, and to share these ideas with others who could benefit from your wisdom and experience. You can share your good news by getting in touch with us through our website (www.faithinourfuture.org.au) or by emailing us direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support and prayers, and for being a part of this movement of renewal wherever you are placed and however you serve the mission of God in daily life.
With every good wish,
Director, Pastoral Planning Office