St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

Faith in Our Future: Advancing our Pastoral Plan


Inviting your feedback  May-June 2013

Catholic Outlook May 2013 Faith in Our Future Story
Pastoral Planning at St Bernadette's Castle Hill Parish, 2012.
Photography: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

From Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Catholic Outlook May 2013

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta.

What an exciting time for the Catholic Church! The whole world looked on as the conclave elected a new pope. Pope Francis has already shown that he is a renewal pope.

In the midst of the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI, a new pope carries forward the work of deepening our faith and prodding us into action.

He inherits the “mission not yet accomplished” of the New Evangelisation and encourages us all to play our part in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of our times.

It is also an exciting time for our Diocese. We are currently preparing our Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future. This is a process full of Christian hope for the future of the Church in Western Sydney.

Our community exists precisely to pass on faith in Jesus Christ so that it finds a home in individuals, families, parishes and beyond. Each of us is called to live and transmit “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Our Pastoral Plan is designed to bring this vision into reality.

In 2012 some 2000 participants took part in our “Faith in our Future” consultations which included parishes, religious congregations, ethnic chaplaincies, ecclesial movements and school communities.

Our Pastoral Planning Team, together with our clergy and diocesan agencies, has been hard at work, drawing on your wisdom and shaping recommendations for our Pastoral Plan. The more advice that we can gather and sift, the better our Pastoral Plan will be.

Below is an outline of some parish goals that have been developed to date and an opportunity for you to have your say as our plan develops. Please email the Pastoral Planning Team for a feedback form and take a few minutes to share your thoughts:

My sincere thanks to Fr Paul Marshall, Daniel Ang and all of you who have contributed to our Pastoral Plan!

Download Advancing our Diocesan Pastoral Plan – May-June 2013 Download Advancing our Diocesan Pastoral Plan – May-June 2013

Summary of recommendations to date

Fr Paul Marshall and Daniel Ang, Pastoral Planning Team

In response to consultations held throughout the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta in 2012, we have been developing a range of recommendations together with our agencies (e.g. CatholicCare Social Services, Catholic Education Office, Institute for Mission) that will support our diocesan community as a whole.

As well, almost 100 recommendations have been developed specifically for parish communities so that each parish can further strengthen its living of the Gospel mission and its outreach to others.

These parish-based initiatives, currently in draft form, can be grouped into the following overarching parish goals:

Supporting Family Life

  • Review and develop a range of parish welcome initiatives to enhance sense of belonging (e.g. welcome kits, trained welcomers).
  • Initiate or strengthen the range of family groups available in each parish.
  • Better connect faith with life via online and hardcopy resources (e.g. family prayer resources, resources for marriage and life issues) with the support of a new diocesan Family and Life Office or similar.
  • Support parents and families with resources to witness to faith outside the parish (e.g. family retreats and enrichment programs).

Connecting Better with the Young

  • Establish and/or strengthen the presence of youth leadership in each parish (e.g. formation for leadership).
  • Develop and strengthen groups for youth and young adults in each parish (e.g. age specific clusters).
  • Develop vibrant parish liturgies that extend special welcome to youth and young adults.
  • Nurture and review strategies for youth participation in World Youth Days and local and national youth events.
  • Explore and promote opportunities for youth participation in justice initiatives and public advocacy.

Building upon our Ethnic Diversity

  • Identify and engage the gifts and needs of ethnic groups within the parish community (e.g. consult significant ethnic leaders).
  • Strengthen recognition and celebration of migrant communities in parish life (e.g. cultural diversity in liturgy).
  • Promote the integration of migrant communities in the life of the parish (e.g. social engagement, representation in parish council).

Supporting Laity and Clergy

  • Establish and communicate clearly the purpose and vision of the parish community.
  • Ensure the work of parish councils aligns with this purpose and vision.
  • Develop and promote opportunities for prayer and reflection beyond the liturgy (e.g. Lectio Divina).
  • Strengthen a culture of co-responsibility and collaboration in the parish in order to enhance mission (e.g. consider Catholic couples’ involvement in marriage preparation).
  • Encourage and support participation of the aged in parish life.
  • Promote a culture of adult learning and formation in the parish, providing or taking part in opportunities to grow in faith and understanding (e.g. organised Scripture groups, IFM courses).

A New Evangelisation

  • Develop and strengthen awareness of the parish as an evangelising community (e.g. parish reflection days on discipleship).
  • Strengthen connection between parish and school communities (e.g. combined liturgies and community events).
  • Review parish engagement of social media and technology to reach out to existing and potential parishioners.
  • Promote the Catholic faith and parish life in the wider community (e.g. local or overseas mission).

Keep in mind that our Diocesan Pastoral Plan will provide detailed actions to assist parishes to achieve each of the pastoral goals outlined above. As mentioned, there are around 100 of these actions to date but we need your advice to ensure our Diocesan Pastoral Plan is pointed in the right direction, that its goals are sound, so it can be the best plan it can be.

Have your say!

In that spirit, we invite you to send us your feedback on the parish-based goals outlined above as part of the ongoing development of our Pastoral Plan.

You can respond as an individual, as a ministry group or as a parish council.

Please email the Pastoral Planning Team for a feedback form at or you can complete the feedback form online at the Faith in Our Future site (click here)

What is important is that we hear your thoughts and your sense of faith on the best way for our parish communities to live our Catholic faith into the future. 

Each completed submission will go into a draw to win one of three prizes: an iPod nano, a collection of writings by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or a beautifully printed book of Catholic prayers.

Deadline for submissions: 30 June 2013

The three winners will be contacted by phone or email and announced in the August issue of Catholic Outlook.

Thank you for your contribution and for your passion for our Church and its future in faith!

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