St Irenaeus, theologian and saint of the second century, remarked “the Christian life is a beginning moving through beginnings to a beginning.” Later in the patristic age, a spiritual master of the east, Gregory of Nyssa, would describe every good we receive in the spiritual life as only the herald of the next, such was God’s infinite love and the manifold possibilities for Christian living.
As Director of Pastoral Planning these past years, it has been a great privilege to witness Christ give birth to new possibilities in the Diocese of Parramatta. A sense of expectancy and concrete hope has accompanied our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future, as it has been brought to life in a myriad of ways through our parishes, people and diocesan agencies.
After a time of discernment, I have decided to accept the invitation to direct a new Office for Evangelisation in the neighbouring Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, working alongside Bishop Peter Comensoli, with the Parramatta Diocese a remarkable reference point for the future.
This new beginning comes after a number of enriching years in theological education with the Parramatta Institute for Mission and then a focus on the consultation, framework, development and ongoing implementation of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
I know that the good work and spiritual vitality of this great diocese will continue to grow through the dedication of so many people who have contributed and continue to give of their faith, ideas and time to make Faith in Our Future a reality in their local communities of faith. This includes the devoted clergy, parish pastoral councils, ministry and prayer groups and movements, and blog readers (!) with whom I have had the joy of collaborating.
We know that disciple-making begins with Gospel sharing. The conversation about faith, intentional discipleship and outreach to others will go from strength to strength across forty-seven parishes and new ones yet to build. The Pastoral Planning Office will continue to serve as a foundational resource for parishes and groups in growing and sharing their faith, and in intentional planning for their mission, led by the team of Fr Paul Roberts, Margaret Marathakis and Lindsay Nakhoul.
I leave with deep appreciation of the opportunity to learn from and meet so many people committed to God in Christ and his mission. The thousands of lay men and women who participated in consultations, who have undertaken formation for ministry, in theology and ecclesiology, and my colleagues in our diocesan agencies and ministries, have filled me with gratitude for this time in Western Sydney. I will remain a parishioner of St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, and look forward to being blessed by the continued energy and vitality of the Diocese as I now seek to serve communities in the Hornsby region, on the North Shore, Northern Beaches and the Central Coast.
As I transition to this new beginning, I reflect on the life and confidence of the Diocese of Parramatta through the words of Pope Francis, shared during this past Holy Week. The pontiff described our Catholic Church as forever living in a “present that is full of the future” (1 April, 2015). This is so because the present is filled with Christ who is the true source of the Church’s renewal. The present also contains a hope-filled future on account of the disciples of all nations and vocations who make this Diocese of Parramatta a remarkable missionary community and a genuine spiritual home.
Thank you for your encouragement and support, and every blessing in the Risen Christ,
Contact the Pastoral Planning Office
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
Lindsay Nakhoul, Margaret Marathakis, Fr Paul Roberts
Phone: (02) 9831 4911