PARISH RENEWAL (Part 2) BY NATASHA BERCHY, EVANGELISATION CO-ORDINATOR
Friday 12th August 2022.
Dear fellow parishioners,
I hope this message finds you well and that you have been enjoying the sunny days that we have been having! Spring isn’t too far!
If you may recall, in last week’s bulletin, I shared a little about personal faith renewal in relation to parish renewal. We live in a busy world, and quite often, our faith becomes an ‘add on’ to our schedule and not core to who we are and how we act. Proverbs 3:5-6 stipulates that we must “trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” Our faith must encompass us wholly and completely in order for us to be true disciples of Jesus. And this is a process that we will spend our entire lives working towards and perfecting.
We can strive for this kind of faith alone, however, it is too difficult as we were not designed for solitary existence. God himself, in his very nature, is a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And being made in His image and likeness, we are made for community. Whilst personal prayer is crucial in building up our relationship with Jesus Christ, our faith must not remain private, it must be shared.
There are many different communities in which we can share and grow our faith. The first being the family. Much research shows that parents are the biggest influencers in passing on the faith to their children as kids rarely become what they do not see. And there is much to be said about how crucial it is that families spend time praying with and for one another however this isn’t the space for that! Faith can also be shared amongst friends who can gather to pray communally and grow deeper in the knowledge and love for Jesus. However, I want to focus on sharing faith as a parish community.
What is a parish? Well, technically, it is a geographical area and local Church community within a diocese. If we go a little further, we can say that we, as a parish, are actually extensions of the body of Christ here in Caroline Springs. God has put us here, in this place, at this moment, with one another, to worship Him, love Him and serve Him.
But we might see the parish differently. We could maybe view the parish as a ‘social hub?’ a place where we can come and socialise and catch up with our friends every so often. Or we can maybe see it as a ‘service station’ where we view priests as providers of sacraments and services that we can tap into when we need or want them and then tap out when we are done. Parish can also be perceived as a ‘museum’ where we are so concerned with preservation of certain, unimportant things that we become stagnant and are afraid of growth and change.* I think the saddest perception we may have of the parish is one that is not welcoming and does not care.
As members of St Catherine of Siena here in Caroline Springs, our parish is what we all collectively make it. Our contributions will reflect what we can do and who we are. And we are all equally important members of this faith community, with different gifts, talents and resources to share. We have been gifted with this community in order to grow in faith and love for Jesus alongside one another.
But how invested are you in our faith community? Do you know the names of even 5 people that come along to the same Mass as you? Have you connected with any groups or events outside the Mass in order to further deepen your faith and get to know those in your faith family? My challenge for you this week is to step outside your comfort zone and say hello to that person after Mass you always see but never talk to. Get to know their name and a little about them. When hospitality is served, stay back for a cup of tea. When you do participate in the Mass, fully immerse yourself in the liturgy and know that you are worshipping your God alongside your brothers and sisters, in our parish community that God has placed us together in for a reason.
*‘Models of parish which hinder your mission’ workshop. Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.