Address to the Diocesan Forum 2019 – Part 4: A Church That Goes to the Margins

29 August 2019
Bishop Vincent Long meets with Pope Francis during the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Ad Limina meeting in Rome. Image: Vatican Media.


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




Pope Francis constantly calls us to move beyond the security of status quo and take the risk of going to the periphery. The Church must be the Church of the poor. The Church must go out of itself in order to be close to those in need.

If one can detect the direction of Pope Francis’ pontificate, it has something to do with the movement from security to boldness, from inward looking to outward looking, from preoccupation with our status quo, from safeguarding our privileges to learning to be vulnerable, thereby conveying God’s compassion to those who are on the edges of society and Church.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

Hence our challenge is to accompany people from the margins into a journey towards the fullness of life and love. We are meant to be in the coalface, in the messiness of it all and at the same time in fidelity to the Gospel.

We are to be a Malcolm in the Middle who occupies in betwixt and between, liminal, peripheral and precarious places. Like Christ in his ministry among the sick and the lost, we are called to meet God in the most unlikely people and places. We, too, must be in that frontier space.

It is that precarious liminal space where the true cost of our discipleship is counted, because we dare to walk with the Samaritans of our time, just like Jesus did before us. They could be asylum seekers, the homeless, the Indigenous, the victims of injustice, the Muslim refugees, the LGBT persons et cetera.

The crisis of diminishment that we face allows us an opportunity to divest ourselves of all the unnecessary trappings, to focus on what is our core mission, to act more prophetically and to live more fully, more creatively, more boldly, more at the periphery.

Part 5 will be published tomorrow.

To read Part 3 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.


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