Parish Pastoral Plan Week 5: The journey is as important as the destination itself...

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OUR PARISH PLAN: The journey is as important as the destination itself…

Parish Planning Forums
All are invited to one of the following forums to discuss our parish planning process that will set the direction for our parish in coming years.
Sunday 14 October, 11.00am - 12.30pm, St Charles Borromeo Church
Monday 15 October, 7.30pm - 9.00pm, Holy Cross College Library

For the past four weeks we have focused on a theme that was part of the conversations during the August week-end initiative by Fr. Greg, the Parish Pastoral Council and other invited guests.
There were two reasons for these summaries. Firstly, to keep parishioners in the loop on matters to do with parish renewal. Secondly, to propose that we look at our ‘way of being church’ if we are to truly live out our mission as church to be the transforming presence of Jesus in the world.
Traditionally, Catholics’ relationship with the church has been mainly one of compliance, keeping the rules, fulfilling our duties. Complying with such expectations seems to be in our DNA as Catholics and it is good that we remain faithful in this regard. However, the circumstances of our times demand a deepening and a personalising of our faith in a movement to commitment, living our faith life because we want to, not because we have to, out of love rather than out of fear.
This consciousness may invite us to a change of mindset. Similarly, there may be the need for a change of mindset in regard to the functioning of a parish. In an earlier era, many parishes had two or three priests, generally younger in age. Parish life was less complex in those times and the priest was usually available for a variety of roles and services that were not necessarily the preserve of the ordained. Most likely that era has gone and may never return, at least in the Western world. And yet, we have not replaced a model of co-dependence with one of co-responsibility of all the faithful.
Unfortunately, many aspects of the co-dependence model still remain, placing totally unreasonable burdens on the priest and his small band of volunteers while failing to develop a sense of shared responsibility for the mission of the parish.
As mentioned in a previous blog entry, Pope Francis keeps reminding us that ‘more of the same’ is not the way forward. Parramatta Bishop, Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv., in a recent address (Concerned Catholics, Canberra-Goulburn 11 Sept 2018) also said it's ‘time to find fresh ways of being church, fresh ways of ministry and service for both men and women disciples …time to make the church less the church of the ordained and more the church of the whole body of the baptised’.
Such considerations ought to inform any Plan for the future. Unless the plan development process is set in a context of re-culturing involving grass-roots ownership, its impact is likely to be minimal. In general the plan draws its direction and inspiration from a vision -- the guiding light on the hill. In turn, the plan contains a series of goals, marking out the territory, mobilising and guiding forces towards a realisation of the vision. Thus, the shared journey towards a Parish Plan is a serious effort to engage in the transition Bishop Vincent speaks of from a bygone model of church to a model of church that is renewed and vibrant.

Reflection & Sharing

i. What are your thoughts and feelings about any issues raised above?
ii. Does the ‘compliance vs commitment’ mode ring any bells for you?