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.
Bob Dixon is Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office. He has a PhD in sociology from Monash University and degrees in science, theology and education. He is the author or co-author of several books and reports including Building Stronger Parishes Project Report (2015) and Catholics who have stopped attending Mass (2007). He is an Honorary Professor at Australian Catholic University, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Divinity, and a Board member of NCLS Research and the Christian Research Association. Bob is particularly interested in the current situation of parishes and the challenges they face.