Pastoral Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

A Season of Great Expectation

708746_low_MODIFIEDAs the Church prepares itself for the Feast of Christmas we hear the call to ‘stay awake’ in expectation and longing for Jesus Christ, the one in whom God enters human history and who leads humanity back to God. We will soon celebrate the fact that God has not entered into a mere sympathy with human existence but literally lived it, been born within it, so that we might follow him in the fabric of our own lives.

The season of Advent calls us to prepare our hearts to receive this gift of Christ completely and unconditionally. We are called to entrust ourselves to Him, to realise that the birth of this man who is God is the birth of a new creation, of our new selves, if we allow it to be.

This journey of spiritual renewal has already begun as the Diocese of Parramatta, with the conclusion of the first year of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future. Our blog readers will know much has been achieved in the past twelve months. This accomplishment has been enabled by our common vision under grace, the united direction we have in hand, to grow in faith ourselves and share that faith with others for the building up of God’s Kingdom.

blktwn_p_059_largeAs a Pastoral Planning Office, we have visited countless parishes, parish pastoral councils, ministry reflection days and formation sessions, hosted leadership days, assembled resources and networked with people and partner organisations to drive and strengthen our common mission. The support and passion among the people we have met has been a tremendous source of joy and affirmed our conviction that Faith in Our Future is much more than a document but a living vision that animates and brings clarity to all that we do as the Church in Western Sydney.

Speaking to a parish pastoral council in the east of our Diocese this past week, there was a strong consensus among the participants that parishes need not fall into resignation or mere routine. Rather than ‘staying awake’ as Advent exhorts, if we are comfortable in our communities but not missionary, if we attend but not reach out to others, if we receive but do not share by word and witness, we would be found asleep in the face of the greater holiness and mission that God calls forth in each one of us. To the extent that we receive His missionary and outreaching Spirit in our lives and communities, we are the Church we are waiting for.

Welcome and EvangeliseAs you prepare for Christmas personally and communally as parishes, remember you can now download our latest resource Welcome & Evangelise from our website. It contains an array of helpful ideas and resources to assist your community welcome all those who join us at this time of year at our Christmas liturgies and events. It is a time when people who are not ordinarily with us on any given weekend, or who may feel distant from the Church, can be among us making some connection between their life and faith. It is also a time of year when hundreds of people get to church early! How can we make the most of this unique opportunity and speak with these crowds and share our Catholic faith with living joy and real impact?

Let us know how your parish is planning to welcome and evangelise this Christmas by emailing us at pastoralplanning@parra.catholic.org.au with your best initiatives and ideas. We are always eager to hear from our blog readers and to share your creative ideas with other parishes of the Diocese so we can journey together in faith and missionary discipleship.

Thank you for walking with us throughout the year with Faith in Our Future. Until our next blog, we wish you, your families and friends, communities and groups a grace-filled Advent, filled with expectation of the Good News that arrives in Christ.

With every blessing,

Daniel Ang
Director, Pastoral Planning Office
Email: pastoralplanning@parra.catholic.org.au 
Twitter: @DanielAngRC

2 Responses »

  1. Appreciation of your blog Daniel and thanksgiving for you as you’ve led the support for the implementation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan throughout this year. Just this weekend I was part of a process with a great group of 45 leaders in one of our parishes of the Nepean Deanery and their appreciation of having had the Pastoral Plan to assist their reflections and development this year was loud and clear. As we know, for some dioceses, the reality is that pastoral planning is mostly about how best to shut parishes. As we thankfully continue to grow, there is nevertheless much to ponder, especially to enable the Life of Word and Sacrament to more engage the imaginations and spirits of younger people, to further build inclusion in Christ’s Church and to mission us as a Diocese of communities that more and more impact the world around us with hope and life. There are tremendous energies for good occurring at the grassroots of parish life. And as well, there is still much grace to be channelled through good reflection by us all with the Pastoral Plan. Here’s to the continuing unfolding of ‘Faith in our Future’ as our Diocese of Parramatta begins a new liturgical year in this Advent time of joy. May the Holy Spirit guide the decision for the appointment of a new Shepherd for our Diocese, after the heart of Christ. Blessings on your continuing work with us and for us Daniel and all good treasures of Advent and Christmas to you and your blog readers. Fr Paul Roberts.

  2. Thank you Fr Paul for your kind comments, tremendous support of Faith in Our Future and for sharing the good news, the good stories and energy, of our parish communities! It is a privilege to support the implementation of this plan, a plan of our people, and there is much good news yet to unfold in the New Year for our Diocese. Advent blessings on you, your ministry of service, and the Institute for Mission for all its good work in forming our people for God’s mission! With gratitude, Daniel A

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