Sandhurst Parishes that are Joyful, Hope-filled, Servant Communities

Although December is a busy time of year, people from parishes across the Sandhurst Diocese gathered via Zoom to pray and to discern some practical answers to the question, ‘How is God calling parishes of the Sandhurst Diocese to be Joyful, Hope-filled, Servant communities? This gathering was part of the Sandhurst Diocese’s continuing exploration of the six Thematic Papers for Discernment as we continue the journey of the Plenary Council. The following practical suggestions were among those put forward during the meeting:

  • Parish home visitation by priests used to connect people and create parish spirit. Telephone calls during COVID have been a different way of doing this.

  • Encourage people to share their stories. One parish features profiles of people and invites parishioners to share significant moments with the parish.

  • Invite parishioners to meet together more frequently.

  • Mandatory elected Parish Pastoral Councils, with openness and regular reporting to the parish.
    ocus on building a culture of trust in Church life. Transparency, honesty and accountability are needed, with particular attention to groups tasked with the care and protection of children.

  • The Church needs to be useful to people. We need to offer something important to their lives; a spirituality that is life-giving and practical help when needed. One parish helps the homeless find accommodation, and this also connects the parish with the town.

  • Seek ways to support families who have members suffering serious mental health issues.

  • Make the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society more visible as part of our Church’s outreach and involve more parishioners in this vital work.

  • Our Church is looking inward while the rest of the world is looking outward. We need to be ready to engage with everyone. Christ looked out at the everyday people and engaged with everyone!

  • More attention needs to be paid to how we communicate and to our projection via various media. We may be surprised that many secular groups have strong respect for Church communities and what we can do. They are ready to ask, ‘What can the Church do for this community moving beyond COVID?’

  • The role of women in the life of the Church needs to be reviewed. Women are taking substantial responsibilities in many parishes with the backing of their parish priests.

  • Small groups that meet regularly, following a formula of prayer and discussion about matters important to parish life, can be a powerful nucleus from which other groups and projects grow. People appreciate belonging to a group where their contribution is accepted. New community arrivals can be asked to join.

  • Encourage neighbouring parishes to support each other and share ideas for ways to do things.
  • We do not always need a lot of money for the mission. Personal contact, being with people in their ordinary lives, doesn’t cost anything.

This discussion formed another step in the Sandhurst Diocese’s journey towards the Plenary Council. For parishes, all six Plenary Council thematic papers suggest a wealth of practical ideas and proposals for local prayer and discernment that could be of benefit to parish communities. In February 2021 the Sandhurst Diocese’s Plenary Council journey will focus on the theme: How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform.

To continue exploring the question ‘How is God Calling Parishes of the Sandhurst Diocese to be Joyful, Hope- filled, Servant Communities’:

View the Advent 2020 leaflets

View the Advent video presentations

Visit the Plenary Council Sandhurst Facebook Page

Visit Sandhurst Adult Faith Education Facebook Page.

 

Lyn Breen, Adult Faith Education Sandhurst.