Catholics are called to give witness to their faith at home, on the job, in the parish and in the world. In this workshop, participants will learn how to craft a testimony that tells the story of their faith and can be adapted to circumstances in which we have an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel. This workshop is designed to build skills and confidence for faith sharing and reaching out to the ‘unchurched’ in our midst. The workshop will also offer suggestions for how to incorporate witness and testimony into parish life, ministry and celebrations through story-telling, social media and parish publications.
How we evangelise is personal and distinctive. We do not all evangelise in the same way and our effectiveness is linked with our openness to allowing the Holy Spirit to animate us. Some evangelise through intercessory prayer, others through friendship, or works of mercy, or teaching. This workshop will help participants enhance their capacity to evangelise through identifying their spiritual gifts and present different styles of evangelising through the lives of the saints. Everyone has their own ‘evangelising language’ which is linked to the charisms, or gifts, we have received from the Holy Spirit. The workshop will also facilitate discussion about ways in which parishes can assist in identifying and nurturing language of evangelisation within their community, in the midst of the Church for the sake of the world.
The disclosure of a history of sexual abuse within our Church is a mark of our generation. There is no part of our Church that has not been affected by the scrutiny afforded consistently over the last thirty years by judicial processes and by the media. We now find ourselves in the midst of a Royal Commission which seeks to attend not only to the incidents of abuse but also to the way in which our Church has not responded well to the pain people have experienced. What is the challenge to our communities of faith by this crisis? How might a community of faith live through this experience which deeply impacts upon the whole Church in a way that is genuinely redemptive? How might a community of faith journey with, and contribute to the healing of those who have suffered, especially when the experience of the community and its leaders has been as damaging? The seminar seeks both to provide some lines of reflection and to draw from the wisdom of the participants themselves.
The relationship between the parish and school represents one of the greatest opportunities for evangelisation in the Australian context. Growing relationships and connections at various levels of parish and school life has been the key ingredient in the story of St Brigid’s, Marrickville. Fr John and Paige will share the story of this Christ-centred and Eucharistic community, identify several principles to grow the parish-school connection while acknowledging those titles, roles and factors that can impede our working together as Church. Participants will be invited to reflect on the potential of leadership in this collaborative relationship and also to consider their own success stories and challenges in building up parish and school communities in the unity of Christ’s mission.
How can we as Church communicate the unchanging message of the Gospel to today’s generation in a way in which they can hear it, let alone receive it? This workshop will break open various ways to evangelise among youth and young adults, including media and music, naming those influential tools that have not only proven to capture the attention of our young people today but which can be harnessed by all parish
communities to ‘spearhead a new evangelisation of our nation’. Parishes that engage the next generation in creative ways become beacons that attract the entire family of faith, from parents to toddlers. The Church is already encouraging us to find new ways and means to evangelise; now we just need the tools – and the courage – to step out and revive the whole community through contemporary communication and the power of our Gospel witness.
Jesus said to ‘Love one another as yourself’ and this inherently mandates us to love ourselves. Self-care is crucial to our work in parish ministry and evangelisation and yet we do not often understand the emotional, physical and psychological impact our work can have. In fact it is alarming how many people either tire or burn out from their involvement in parish life and ministry. This workshop will detail the impact of working with others and strategies and means to manage this effectively. Discussion of the concept of ministry supervision, managing effective personal and professional boundaries, and succession planning will provide participants with practical steps to foster balance in their own lives which also leads to the better functioning of parishes, especially in a culture where time poverty and busyness can dominate. This is a workshop for everyone, including priest, parishioner, youth leader and pastoral carer, among others.
This workshop aims to provide confidence, content, and skills to help those involved in parish and other ministries to speak about ‘those’ areas of Catholic faith that we can sometimes avoid or find difficult to address. It will demonstrate that with careful planning, appropriate delivery, and an underlying approach of good pastoral care it is possible to dialogue with others about our Catholic faith in an interesting, inviting and exciting way that attracts rather than repels. The workshop will focus in on the Church’s teaching on conscience which has been raised by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia and draw also from Pope Francis’ writings as well as the book and movie The Book Thief. It will share how cultivating an understanding of conscience can provide a context within which other ethical issues can be dealt with in a clear and honest way that is nonetheless sensitive to the diverse, and sometimes quite different, positions of those who we serve and encounter in parish life and outreach.
Good quality liturgical music fosters effective liturgical practice and spirituality. This workshop taps into the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s recently published Catholic Worship Book II as a rich source of traditional and contemporary liturgical music that provides music for the revised translation of the Order of Mass, ‘Mass Settings,’ Rites and Sacraments, the Church’s Year (Advent – Christ the King) and Morning and Evening Prayer. Catholic Worship Book II is a veritable gold mine! Those searching for music to mark the Year of Mercy, and the Church’s core mission of evangelisation will discover treasures here from sources past and present. This workshop will ‘unpack’ the new resource. Come and sing, ask questions, and explore this parish resource. Admire the liturgical planning indices with liturgical hymns/ songs for each Sunday linked to the Sunday readings/antiphons. Encourage mercy by strengthening parish musicians to sing the Church’s prayer and thereby inspiring God’s people for mission.
In the midst of the human condition, including the secularism and individualism of today, God wants to transform you and me by means of the Christian faith. That is how he also transforms the world. We come to know this faith not as isolated individuals, but in and through the Church. Particularly in the parish, we learn that the faith we profess is living truth meant to make a difference in our lives and in those we meet. As we grow in the Christian life and take up Jesus’ challenge of feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, of clothing the naked and welcoming the homeless, we become a light to the world, a ray of hope, mercy, compassion, kindness and love. When we share this faith, we are sharing everlasting life in the Risen Christ who makes all things new.
‘Evangelising the Unchurched’; ‘Reaching out to Non-churchgoing Catholics’; ‘Evangelising Young People’; ‘Becoming a Poor Church for the Poor’: whatever aspect of Evangelisation we wish to embark upon, it requires conscientious discernment. It requires a team, a Parish Evangelisation Team, to coordinate such an initiative. “The Gospels teach us,” says Bishop Nicholas, “that discipleship requires us to move from asking ‘Who is my neighbour?’ and ‘What more can I do?’ to considering ‘Who are my partners?’ and ‘How do we organise ourselves for mission?’” In this workshop, he will lead a process to guide parishes to start organising themselves for mission.
The workshop will consider many aspects of forming a Parish Evangelisation Team: Who should be involved in deciding membership of a Team? How do we approach them? What kind of diversity is legitimate and welcome? What qualifications are required? What are its terms of reference? From there he will move on to consider how to develop the Team: How do we deepen the Team’s prayer-life? What training can be given? How does the Team discern new Evangelising priorities? Does a chosen initiative require specific formation? How does the Team communicate with the Parish? Pope Francis calls us, in the Joy of the Gospel, to make our parishes “completely mission-oriented” (EG 28). Forming Evangelisation Teams is where we start.
Fr Morgan Batt
This workshop will share the practical ways in which parishes can foster and support the development of vocation in the midst of the local community of faith. Whether it is marriage, the ordained priesthood, consecrated life or the dedicated single life, the parish is the frontline of the Church’s mission and can call people to their specific way of discipleship with the right tools and approaches in place. What is discernment and vocation and how can we as Church facilitate and mentor people in their call? How do we prepare and equip people to listen to the call that God has placed on their heart, to live their vocation with freedom and faithfulness, and call others to discipleship as evangelisers in the heart of the parish?
Liturgy is the central way in which the Church expresses and nourishes its faith, and when celebrated well, the liturgy is also one of the most powerful tools of evangelisation available to the Church, spreading out to nourish all aspects of Catholic life. This workshop will introduce the ars celebrandi (‘the art of proper celebration’) to parish ministers and members of the assembly so that they can assess their current approach to ministerial roles in the liturgy, discover how these roles can be enhanced, and ultimately release the evangelising power of the liturgy for the enlivening and strengthening of parish life. The ‘art’ of celebrating liturgy well matters because this effects how well the Gospel message conveyed in the liturgy can be heard, understood and lived. Liturgy celebrated well can awaken the faithful to the modes of Christ’s presence in their midst and to their belonging to the body of Christ, while promoting and increasing faith and discipleship.
The family, a critical force for evangelisation, is all too often considered something to be ‘serviced’ rather than empowered for the mission. At the heart of the family is the couple, whose sacramental witness is the powerhouse of the family in its mission, and it is through the couple’s relationship that the evangelising mission of the family has it potency. Drawing on the inspiration and insights of Pope Francis’ teaching on marriage and the family in Amoris Laetitia, and extensive experience in parish-based programs and accompaniment, this workshop will unpack how to make the notion of evangelisation through the family a practical reality in every home and parish.
Who do we think we are as parish? The answer to this question, and the unspoken assumptions behind it, can drive who we are and what we do as a community of faith. Based on the work of Fr James Mallon, author of Divine Renovation: Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission, this workshop will take a light- hearted look at several ‘models’ of parish we can find ourselves working from and how these models can hinder or help the effectiveness of our mission. A new model that will help parishes in their efforts to ‘make disciples’ will then be proposed and discussed.
Parish amalgamation is becoming an increasing reality in many dioceses and is likely to become a greater necessity into the future. The amalgamation or merger of two or more parishes generates many questions, uncertainties and fears. It challenges the meaning of parish – its identity, purpose and best practice, especially in the light of the new evangelisation. Fr Paul Monkerud has faced these issues recently in coordinating the merger of Ryde and Gladesville Parishes in Sydney. Drawing on his experience, Fr Paul will explore how the decision to merge and the merger process itself unfolded, and some key learnings from the exercise which led to the new parish being better placed to develop as a community of the new evangelisation.
Vibrant, engaging liturgy is a powerful agent of evangelisation in any parish. This is especially true for liturgies with children and their families who can find the experience of worship challenging, even difficult. This workshop will share tools to actively engage the hearts, heads and hands of children and adults in liturgical celebrations. It will canvass how storytelling, drama, movement, the homily, and music can combine to foster meaningful and inclusive liturgy and connect families more fully with the Gospel, the Eucharist and the parish community, and God’s mission. This workshop will be underpinned by Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Directory for Masses with Children and Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, ‘The Joy of the Gospel’.
In his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis brought attention to the importance of pre-marriage preparation for the vitality of the family and indeed for the mission of the Church. This workshop will discuss parish based marriage preparation as a natural opportunity for evangelisation, nourishing as it does the spirituality, relationship and vocation of the couple and building up a culture of life, love and mercy in the parish community. The practical challenges and strategies for implementing a parish based marriage preparation program will be shared, as will resources, among them ‘SmartLoving Engaged’, that will enable your parish to prepare couples for marriage from within the parish.
The largest qualitative study of parishes ever conducted in Australia, the ‘Building Stronger Parishes Project’, conducted between 2010 and 2013 by the ACBC Pastoral Research Office, involved in-depth interviews with over 220 parish leaders and active parishioners in 20 Australian parishes, selected because of their acknowledged vitality. The project found that the spiritual growth of individual parishioners and parish communities is strongly correlated with a parish’s missionary outreach; spiritual growth inspires parishes to become evangelising communities; and missionary outreach helps to bring about the pastoral conversion of a parish. One outcome of the project was the compilation of a treasury of successful parish initiatives in mission and outreach. This interactive and practical workshop will show participants how to access this treasury, and invite them to consider how a selection of strategies from parishes that are already successful evangelising communities can be adapted to suit their own context.
Proclaiming the Gospel with joy and mercy calls for effective and bold parish communications. This workshop will share creative and innovative ways in which parish communities can make the most of social media, including Facebook, emerging forms of communication as well as strengthening well established forms of parish communication including the parish bulletin and PowerPoint slides. Tips for the sourcing of contemporary images, consistency of parish branding and sources of support will be shared. This session will also showcase examples of parishes effectively using social media and traditional media for the purpose of evangelisation and participants will be introduced to resources such as Xt3.com, opening up ways that your parish can tap into resources already available to the Church in this time of change and opportunity.
In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis invited “a Church which is poor and for the poor” (EG 198). What does this mean? This workshop will unpack the challenge of Pope Francis’ call to poverty and outreach to those who suffer in our midst. It will provide practical strategies and practices of parish formation so that all members of the parish can be prepared to be an authentic ‘sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach’ (EG 28). This radical conversion of the parish for mission demands an awareness of our own poverty, a radical commitment to the other, especially those living at the ‘margins’, and the building up of a parish culture that understands itself and acts unceasingly as a living instrument of Gospel simplicity and mercy.
The face of the Australian Church is changing. Many parish communities are becoming increasingly ethnically diverse with a growing number of parishioners, in recent times, coming from African and Asian countries. This richness of culture adds to the presence of those parishioners who have already come from Latin American, South East Asian and European countries. Our parishes are called to provide pastoral care for and invite the gifted contribution of migrants and refugees in the midst of our parish communities and neighbourhoods. This workshop will provide strategies and approaches for building up the life of multiethnic parishes so that these communities can be truly ‘catholic’ in the mission of evangelisation, united in faith and diverse in expression.
We host events and launch new programs, and scratch our heads over why more people do not engage. We watch as people we thought were connected and involved drift away or disappear. Building upon the U.S. Gallup study of churches, we examine the different ways of engaging people in community and mission. Four key questions people ask of any community are: What do I get? What can I give? Do I belong? How
do we grow? In this session we explore current parish approaches with youth, with sacramental preparation and with ministry groups and examine how they address (or fail to address) these questions. Participants will then be able to apply this learning to their own approaches to welcoming newcomers and involving people in community life, growing faith and living out our baptismal mission.
To proclaim Jesus Christ we must know who he is, and we must understand that we are participating in his mission to restore all things to God in himself. At the centre of the Catholic experience of faith is the spiritual made physical, the ethereal made tangible, and the ideal made real. If we are to be truly Catholic we must allow ourselves genuinely to be the body of Christ in the world, allowing him to reach out in love and mercy to all those in need through us. We allow ourselves to experience the mercy of God that we in turn may proclaim that mercy with everything we are, say and do. In today’s context this mission brings with it many opportunities and challenges. Come to this workshop with your thoughts, ideas and an open mind.
Many individuals and families are actively involved in sacramental preparation each year in every parish, and these periods of engagement with the parish community can be times of real grace. This workshop will look in particular at the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion) and First Reconciliation to explore practical and effective ways to bring the Good News to children and parents during this time. How can Christ and the story of faith be presented in a relevant, meaningful and engaging way? How can spiritual nourishment and growth be fostered? How can further participation in parish life be encouraged well beyond the conferral of the first sacraments? Answering these questions in creative ways will bear fruit in our parishes at these key moments in the lives of children, individuals, families and the whole parish community.
This workshop will explore how the RCIA is not merely ‘another group’ in the parish but a primary means for the evangelisation of the whole community of faith. How? First of all, it is a challenge to all the members of the parish to be missionary disciples and to live their baptismal commitment as priests, prophets and kings. The other areas which will be explored are the important role of the Scriptures, the Word of God, in our ongoing call to conversion; the purpose and the spirituality of the liturgical rites of the RCIA; the centrality of the sacraments, especially Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist; the calling to all the members of the parish to be living witnesses to the catechumens and candidates; the ecclesial and community dimension of accompanying the catechumens and candidates on their journey of faith; and finally, the call to mission as an essential element of discipleship for every Christian.