By Adi Indra
When I returned to Australia earlier this year, I had the opportunity to be at Wodonga Parish to gain some pastoral and administrative experience for a month.
I was looked after by two fine priests, parish priest Fr Junjun Amaya and his capable assistant priest Fr Junray Rayna. It was indeed a blessed time to be in touch with the Diocese and the parish environment again, to enrich my formation and learning that I do in the seminary.
“A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” By this definition, we know that a parish is not merely an entity, but it is a living body of the faithful entrusted to the care of a shepherd of the community, the parish priest, in communion with the Diocese where the parish is located, and of course, we are also in communion with the Universal Church.
Pope Benedict XVI says, “[Saint] Paul shows that he knows well and makes us all understand that the Church is not his and is not ours; the Church is the Body of Christ”. And what, or rather, who, make up the Mystical Body of Christ if not we, the people of God! Hence, our individual faith is very much related to the community, and the most visible form of this community in the local level is the parish.
The parish is the place where we gather to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments. It is the place where we are nourished by Jesus Christ. Though we are all sinners, his Love and Mercy keep inviting us closer to Himself each and every moment. Besides through the Sacraments, sometimes we experience God’s Love through the consoling words of other parishioners, or through a (seemingly) simple encounter with others at a cuppa after Mass! For example, I am often inspired by the dedication of various parish volunteers.
These things inspire me and give me energy for ministry!The parish is “a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach,” Pope Francis says. We need to encourage each other in Jesus Christ in our faith journey. Saint Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:27). Each of us matters and let us be patient with one another. Of course, parish life is not always easy. There would be times of difficulties and challenges in the community.
I guess this is normal because there are different personalities coming together to know, love and serve the Lord. So, pray for your parish! Pray for your shepherds; the priests, pray for the Parish Pastoral Council, pray for other parishioners, pray for the catechumens and last but not least, pray for vocations. May we, in our parishes, always “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) and be an inspiration and help to one another in the Diocese and even in the Universal Church.
Photo: Seminarian Adi Indra with parishioners after Mass during his pastoral placement with the Wodonga Parish.