Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Address to the Diocesan Forum 2019, Parramatta
“Envisioning the Church in Western Sydney for the New Millennium”
13 July 2019
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
I would like to pay my respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this meeting takes place, and also pay respect to Elders both past and present.
I’d like to thank you all for joining together in this important exercise of listening, discerning and envisioning the roadmap for the future of the Church in Western Sydney.
We need to change the status quo in the Church because we have reached a tipping point and a critical juncture. The impact of the Royal Commission and the conviction of Cardinal George Pell have conspired to deal a grievous blow to the morale of rank and file Catholics.
Because of my background of being a refugee, I have a particular interest in the biblical experience of the exile. I believe that we should do well to draw on the great spiritual legacy of our ancestors in faith.
In the exile, God’s people experienced a profound loss. From being a great nation with all the status symbols of power, they were reduced to a stateless and dejected people. Yet, it was in that moment of utter vulnerability, they gained a new insight into what it meant to be God’s people.
There was a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in the way they related to God, to others and the world around them.
They gradually came to a new understanding of the disorientation, dislocation and marginalisation that was forced upon them.
Through the prophets, Judaism was reimagined outside the Promised Land. They learned to witness to their faith by the core values of neighbourly solidarity, love and compassion. The exiled Church of ours must similarly learn to adapt to changing social and cultural conditions. It is time to be prophetic.
The prophets did not simply reiterate the past. They reengaged the faith tradition with fresh insights distilled from lived experience. We must not be afraid to embrace new fresh creative ways of embodying and conveying effectively the message of the Gospel to the culture in which we live.
We cannot conduct “business as usual” because the ground under our feet has shifted. The Holy Spirit is speaking to us as Church through the challenges and signs of our times. The signs of our times demand a Gospel-inspired response.
We need to work in partnership and embed the values and principles we want to embrace into the structures and practices of our diocese.
Part 2 will be published tomorrow.