Holy Family Emerton is a thriving parish in the Greater Mount Druitt area, under the care of the Jesuits – parish priest Fr Greg Jacobs SJ and assistant priest Fr Pat Mullins SJ. The parish serves a diverse, multicultural, economically disadvantaged community in Western Sydney.
After five years in Mount Druitt, Fr Greg decided to investigate a plan for renewing his parish. He was inspired partly by James Mallon’s book Divine Renovation, encouraged by Pope Francis’ call for an outward-looking Church of encounter, and supported by the Ignatian tradition of encouraging our church to be “men and women for others”. In 2019, Fr Greg invited his Parish Council and some of the parish leaders to join him on this journey of renewal.
With support from the Diocese of Parramatta’s Pastoral Planning Office, the Parish Leadership Team came into being. This group held its first meeting in October 2019 and began plans for engaging the whole parish in the process of renewal.
Over the past year, the Leadership Team, comprising of Fr Greg and three other parishioners, met fortnightly and maintained regular contact with the Parish Pastoral Council and other ministry leaders. One of their first tasks was to refine the initial vision for the parish which Fr Greg had drafted. The team was assisted in this task by reflecting on the work of the more than 60 groups and agencies which operate through the parish, mostly based on the parish site: groups committed to ministry, service, education, social justice, prayer and liturgical ministries.
When social distancing and other COVID restrictions were imposed in March 2020, the work of the parish leaders in further developing the vision and involving the wider parish in the renewal process slowed. However, the leadership groups continued to meet and plan, mostly using video meetings. The Parish Council endorsed the draft vision in September 2020:
Holy Family Mount Druitt is a welcoming community:
- On a journey towards a personal encounter with Jesus;
- Called to unity and celebrating our diversity;
- Living and sharing the joy of the Gospel
A significant gathering of most of the ministry leaders occurred in late November, when more than 40 parish leaders prayed, reflected and discerned on how the new parish vision could be implemented. A promising list of strategies resulted. Over the coming months, we will be extending the formation, planning and discernment processes to a wider group of parishioners as we further develop and continue to live our vision.
We believe that these developments at Holy Family are in fact a work of the Spirit, as we strive together to build a truly synodal Church here in Western Sydney.
Br Lawrie McCane is a parishioner and member of the Parish Leadership Team at Holy Family Parish, Emerton-Mt Druitt.