A brand-new Diocesan offering hopes to nourish the souls of Catholics across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains and beyond.
Produced by the Diocese of Parramatta’s Pastoral Formation team, which forms part of the Mission Enhancement Team, the Soul Food podcast shares live-giving conversations and stories that nourish the soul.
“You know those meals that you never want to end because it was such a good feed?” the podcast introduction asks. “That’s the feeling people’s stories give us, and that’s the sort of response we want you to experience after you listen to the episode.”
The podcast was developed when the Pastoral Formation team were examining its formation offerings. Following a survey of over 125 people around the Diocese, the idea for the podcast emerged as people of faith were looking for an avenue to engage with people’s stories that was regular, engaging and formative.
“The name Soul Food invokes themes of nourishment, spiritual and personal growth and the offering of holistic food for thought that listeners could consider as they express their life and faith,” the Pastoral Formation team told Catholic Outlook.
There are currently seven 20- to 30-minute episodes of the Soul Food podcast. Each podcast begins with a discussion on a universal topic – food – before delving into the personal stories and testimonies from a person of faith in the Diocese of Parramatta.
“The most exciting – and most humbling – aspect of the podcast is being invited into entering the sacred story of the other,” the team said.
“Much of the conversation is unscripted, and pre-conversation is kept to a minimal, so as to draw from the experience something of surprise and inspiration.”
In creating the podcast, the Pastoral Formation team stressed the importance that everyone has a story to tell, with local parishioners, representatives of Diocesan pastoral councils, university staff members and a representative to the Plenary Council already shared their lives.
“There have been so many Spirit-filled moments where we’ve found heart speaks to heart,” the team says. “It’s those moments that the belief of all beings made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) finds concrete expression in the discovery of God in each other.”
As more episodes are produced, the Pastoral Formation team hope that it becomes a way in which the Diocese and Catholics within it exercise Pope Francis’ call for a more synodal church.
“We hope this podcast models what Pope Francis named as the ‘art of accompaniment’ by ‘removing sandals before the sacred ground of the other’ (Evangelii Gaudium 169) through conversational storytelling and attentive listening.
“We also hope that the podcast will enable us to be better listeners and help our conversations to be inclusive with people, whether they feel close or far from faith.”
The Soul Food podcast is available weekly on most of the major podcast platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Overcast. You can also access the podcast via pfparra.org.au/soulfood.