We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that this New Year brings abundant blessings to you, your loved ones and the communities of faith in which you find life and faith!
The beginning of a new year provides a precious opportunity to reflect on our deepest hopes and aspirations, not only as individuals but as parishes, groups and ministries seeking to respond to Jesus who is the light of our world (John 8:12). Our Christian hope at year’s opening is not a sentimental or facile optimism, even less a flight from the world, but the courage to acknowledge and commit ourselves in faith to the present and future with trust in the possibilities for healing, growth and Christian mission that God can bring about through our discipleship and witness.
At this moment of history, we are especially conscious of the way in which the Good News of Jesus, his Gospel of peace, justice and healing, can speak to a time afflicted by violence and war, persecution and poverty. We pray with Pope Francis that the power of Christ, in its meekness and holiness, will ‘take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference, the globalisation of indifference,’ ‘transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness’ (Urbi et Orbi Message, Christmas 2014).
We pray that our Christian lives might contribute to this transformation, as Eucharistic people who seek mercy, healing and the world’s communion. With the season of Lent also only a few short weeks away, we pray for conversion, in our Church and in our world.
To support this season of spiritual renewal, our Pastoral Planning Office will make available to all parishes and our blog readers a number of Lenten resources in hardcopy and online from the first week of February 2015.
In addition to a special Lenten issue of Catholic Outlook, parishes will receive a Prayer of the Faithful booklet assembled in collaboration with the Office for Worship, containing intercessory prayers for the season of Lent and Holy Week. A Stations of the Cross reflection booklet has been assembled together with Catholic Youth Parramatta while our Family and Life Office will be sharing a sample family prayer kit which might inspire your community to reach out to families at Easter when many people join us for worship who may not ordinarily be there. Of special interest to families and the young will be our Lenten Calendar for Kids which can be used in the home as a way of walking with Jesus or even in sacramental preparation. Easter prayer cards will also be offered for parishes to distribute from the Easter Vigil onwards, focused on the Resurrection of Christ and welcoming all participants to the life of your parish.
As many newcomers or those on the margins of faith (re)connect with the Church at Easter time, our resource Welcome & Evangelise also remains available to support your parish make the most of these opportune times for faith-sharing. Since the launch of this resource in November 2014, parishes such as St John XXIII at Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens and Our Lady Queen of Peace at Greystanes are reviewing their parish welcome as ministry leaders and groups while communities beyond the Diocese are engaging it as a source of inspiration for their own life.
Our Diocese of Parramatta continues to journey with great faith in our future, growing and sharing the Gospel through our various parishes, schools and homes. We look forward to sharing the news and events of 2015 with you and your faith communities, and thank you for walking with us in the steps of Christ.
With blessings and great hope,
Director, Pastoral Planning Office