This month’s blog is a little different to previous updates on our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future. August 2014 presents a number of opportunities for the lay men and women of the Parramatta Diocese to hear about the best practices taking place in parish ministry, to experience meaningful formation which connects life and faith, and to learn and discuss the ways in which social media is shaping the contemporary mission of the Church. We want our blog readers to have the opportunity to take part in these events and be ‘fed’ and nourished as key leaders in the Church’s mission.
First of all, a series of formative opportunities are being offered by the Institute for Mission, the adult formation centre in our Diocese. The new series #Life_Faith consist of three themes explored over three nights, and the series is offered at three different sites around our Diocese, bringing formation closer to the lives of our people.
The Director of the Institute for Mission, Fr Paul Roberts, shares “A strange looking hashtag title, #Life_Faith, suggests that life underscores faith. Most of us as human beings seek for our life experience to somehow speak to any concepts of faith that we examine or embrace. And it’s that ordinary human yearning that has led the Institute for Mission to offer this enjoyable series, a ‘ground level up’ approach aiming for people of any background to identify and intended for ages young adult to senior.”
The series kicks off at 1-5 Marion Street, Blacktown, next Thursday 7th August, while the three evenings can also be experienced at the parishes of St Marys and Kellyville (all dates can be found at www.ifm.org.au). Please register your attendance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call the IFM team on (02) 9831 4911.
Fr Paul Roberts and Donnie Velasco from the IFM will facilitate these nights and are keen for people to get the word that this is something that readers can comfortably invite a friend or family member to who is not connected to the Church. The series might serve as a moment for you to be the connection point for someone else to identify the questions of faith and life stirring in their experience, in a positive, welcoming environment. You can keep in touch with other opportunities being offered by the IFM by visiting www.facebook.com/ifmconnect or connecting by Twitter @ifmconnect.
Also, taking place in August is the Proclaim Conference 2014. As many as 500 church leaders, parish staff and volunteers, youth groups, RE teachers, priests, religious and lay men and women have registered to attend and it is not too late to be a part of it. The keynote presenters at the conference are Fr Michael White and Tom Corcoran, co-authors of the book Rebuilt, which tells the story of their efforts to renew the declining parish they inherited and which they ultimately transformed into a thriving community of disciples. The conference, taking place in Chatswood, NSW, between 21-23 August, will be especially helpful for anyone involved in parish ministry though it is not limited to this audience. To register and learn more about what’s on offer, visit http://www.proclaimconference.com.au
In the days prior to the Proclaim Conference, you can also attend the Catholic Digital Media Conference (CDMC), also being held in Chatswood. The conference will explore the ways in which social media is being engaged by the Church to proclaim the Gospel. Apart from international keynote speakers, there are also hands-on workshops which can assist you and your parish to position itself on the cutting edge of digital communications. You can read more about the conference, taking place between 19-20 August, at the CDMC website: http://www.cdmcaustralia.com
We hope that these three opportunities for faith formation in the month ahead can assist you in the life-long journey of Catholic discipleship we share. In order to bear witness confidently to the Gospel in our families, life and society we all need to grow in our worship, knowledge and practice. The series offered by the Institute for Mission and the conferences to take place represent key openings for a deeper experience of discipleship, which is the very heart and goal of our Pastoral Plan.
With every good wish,
Director, Pastoral Planning Office