How do we grow our faith and share our faith?

By Richard McMahon, Director of Pastoral Planning & Implementation Catholic Outlook, November 2015
Richard McMahon is Director of Pastoral Planning & Implementation. Photo: Adrian Middeldorp

When I share with my friends my new job title, I am often greeted with a quizzical expression. The world of pastoral planning can be perceived as far removed from everyday life.

However, as a husband, father, soccer coach and parish youth group leader, and having worked both in parishes and at a diocesan level in support of faith communities, I firmly believe planning is vital in our Christian life.

Jesus says, “Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.” That seems straightforward. Why do we need to plan?

Planning is part of everyday life. Families need to budget, holidays need itineraries, and a soccer coach needs a strategy for the team.

While good in theory, responding to needs as they arise and spreading ourselves too thin can quickly lead to burn out. We may miss opportunities or be road blocked by an emerging challenge.

Jesus offers us a valuable insight into planning. “The crowds went looking for Jesus, and when they found Him, they tried to prevent Him from leaving them. But He said to them, ‘To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.’” (Luke 4:42-43).

In other words, Jesus says “no” to pressing needs because He has a vision.

So what is the vision of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future? How is it meant to help us?

With our plan boasting 24 strategies, 95 actions, and 171 additional agency actions, we may feel a little overwhelmed! It is important to remember why we are planning.

Our plan’s vision is one with Jesus Christ’s vision. We are called to grow in faith and to share our faith, to grow in love of Christ and our Church so as to share and invite other people into Christ’s love and our Church.

In the Diocese of Parramatta, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP invited us to consider how we could grow our faith and share our faith in areas of greatest need and potential: our families, youth, ethnicity, vocations and evangelisation.

Each of these areas requires good planning to enable us to foster new and mature disciples in our current climate.

We don’t need to rush off and do every action listed, but the strategies and actions, shaped by our own people, agencies and services, give us practical ways of addressing these priorities of our Diocese.

And in responding to these priorities, our agencies and services and communities have renewed our own vision. We are reminded of why we do the good we do.

What is our new pastoral planning parish resource all about?

The booklet Forming the Young & Adult Church contains a rich collection of ideas for youth leaders, ministries and groups as well as resources for parish pastoral councils and the formation of adults in our communities.

My gratitude to my predecessor, Daniel Ang, and his team for their work in bringing this great resource to life.

More copies of this booklet are available, along with its companion guide, Welcome & Evangelise. Please let us know if you require further booklets and support in developing any of their recommendations.

What is next for Faith in our Future?

In my first month, I have been visiting parishes, agencies and services and have much more listening to do. I want to ensure that our plan is making a difference and is assisting us in sharing our faith and growing our faith.

Your input and suggestions will be vital to ensure we keep the plan focused on deepening our love of Christ and one another, and offering us good ways of sharing God’s love with others, inviting them into the heart of Christ and our Church.

Richard McMahon

Director of Pastoral Planning & Implementation

Tel (02) 9831 4911

Email rmcmahon@parra.catholic.org.au

Visit: www.faithinourfuture.org.au

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