New Diocesan Pastoral Council commissioned on Pentecost

By Mary Brazell, 28 May 2021
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, with members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


On Pentecost, the apostles of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit to carry out their mission to spread the Good News.

Similarly, members of the Parramatta Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) were commissioned on this special feast day.

The 14 members of the Council were commissioned by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, during Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.

“What a fitting occasion to be commissioned and blessed on this great feast day, and the birth day of our Church,” Bella Reyes, Chair of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, told Catholic Outlook.

Fellow Council member Natalia Gabriel added, “It was quite moving to be commissioned on the Feast of Pentecost accompanied by the local community. I felt spiritually exhilarated, yet humbled by what is to come.”

Council members hope to make a difference

Bella and Natalia are among the nine new members to the Council, which considers the pastoral needs of the people in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains and consults with and advises Bishop Vincent.

A colleague of Bella’s encouraged her to put her name forward because, in her words, “the Council is in a great space, and the invitation for passionate people of faith is something I see in you.”

Bella adds, “The diverse knowledge and skills and the passion and energy of the members of the DPC are electrifying and contagious – it is a ‘team of champions’ and my hope is to be the ‘champion team,’ collectively inspired and empowered to make the difference on the Diocese’s pastoral works.”

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta with members of the executive of the Diocesan Pastoral Council (L-R) Mindy Mercardo, Bella Reyes and Natalia Gabriel Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Natalia nominated herself because she dreams of “a realistic, humble, evolving Church, packed with people from all walks of life, a people filled with courage and the authentic, compassionate love of Jesus.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to bring my perspective to the table to shape decision making on key pastoral matters.

“I hope and pray that with my fellow council members, we will courageously listen to the Spirit and discern ways to respond to the pastoral requirements of our Diocese with the support of our Bishop.

“I hope we address the expectations and needs of our community so that no matter who we are or what our differences are, we identify as One Body in Christ,” she said.

Bishop Vincent: ‘Pentecost is the celebration of unity in diversity’

During his homily for the Commissioning Mass, Bishop Vincent explained that at the time of Pentecost, the “motley crew” of the followers of Jesus were transformed into a “dynamic, unified and mission-driven community.”

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, speaks during the Commissioning Mass for the Diocesan Pastoral Council at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

“Pentecost was, and is, the celebration of unity in diversity,” Bishop Vincent said.

“The Church, as a community of disciples, is the embodiment of unity in diversity.

“We model ourselves on the early Church in which all members contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ and the spreading of the Good News.”

RELATED: ‘Dear Friends’ – Bishop Vincent’s homily from 23 May 2021

In commissioning the new Council, Bishop Vincent said it was a joy to have this group of “talented, committed” people join him and the leadership team members in “embracing the mission that Jesus bequeaths to us” – a Church, as St Paul described, that is directed by the Spirit.

Holy Spirit to give Council members courage

Members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council during their Commissioning Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Both Bella and Natalia will take inspiration from the celebration of Pentecost in their roles serving the Diocese.

Natalia hopes the Council is strengthened and renewed by the gifts of the Spirit in their own lives and beliefs, and that the Spirit gives them courage to go “outside the walls of our cenacles [small groups]”, as Pope Francis described in his message from last year’s Pentecost.

Bella added, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles preached in many languages symbolising the universal nature of the Church’s mission. I hope that like them, we will all be filled with the Holy Spirit to carry out the tasks entrusted to us as members of the DPC.

“May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts always, giving us the courage to be able to encourage others, and not be afraid.”

Watch the livestream of the Commissioning Mass here.

View images from the Commissioning Mass here or below.



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