About 170 attendees from parishes across New South Wales gathered for the NSW Pastoral Ministry Conference in Lidcombe on 26 February. The conference, titled Drawing and Giving Life
, with a focus on the
scripture ‘you will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation’
(Isaiah 12:3), invited attendees to renew their pastoral life in the
post royal-commission Church. It was organised by the NSW Association of Pastors, Pastoral Associates and Pastoral Workers.
Very Rev Dr David Ranson, Administrator of the Diocese of Broken Bay, addressed attendees as part of the welcome. “Andrew Reedy, an American sociologist, once commented that there is no more ingenious form of community than a Catholic parish. It’s an extraordinary network of relationships,” he said.
“The Catholic parish has a prophetic quality about it, particularly today. It is form of community that we require more than ever because of the forces of disconnection and of isolation that mark our contemporary experience.
“Here in Australia, the parish continues to be the place primarily by which people become church – that living social body that bears the light of the risen Christ.
“It is my hope that particularly as we journey towards the Plenary Council 2020, our parishes of Australia will enjoy focus and development.”
Fr Frank Brennan SJ, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, then gave a keynote address looking at the question of how the Church can renew its pastoral structures to draw and give life in the post-Royal Commission Church in Australia and in what ways those in ministry need to move forward in order to serve the mission of Christ.
“We are not going to build an internati
onal situation of tolerance and peace unless we build it locally,” he said.
“What is our commitment in our neck of the woods to build a culture of tolerance and of living together in peace?
“How are we to give women their place at the table when they cannot preside at the Eucharist?
“How can we ensure that our church is more accountable and transparent and true to the gospel in the wake of the royal commission?
“What should be our approach to employment of LGBTIQ staff and to pastoral care of LGBTIQ parishioners in the wake of the same sex marriage debate?
“How are we to assure Indigenous Australians their place at the table when governments make laws and policies impacting especially on them and their heritage?
“How can we make our community more welcome and open to refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants?
“What should we be drawing from Pope Francis to animate our parishes about stewardship of the environment, responsibility for the poor, spiritual contentment in an age of disruption and getting the mix right of truth, justice, love, mercy and joy?”