Members of the ‘working heart’ of the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have come together for the first time since the pandemic to learn, share and celebrate the role they play in our faith community.
On Wednesday 28 September, the Diocese of Parramatta hosted the 2022 Parish Expo Day for 45 parish secretaries and support team members at St Joseph’s Baulkham Hills.
During his welcoming address, Geoff Officer, Chief of Operations and Finance, told the gathering that the aim of the Parish Expo was to highlight the services and support the Chancery team offers parishes.
“Today is a terrific opportunity to show partnership between Chancery and the parishes,” he said.
“You are the working heart of the Diocese and you are what glues us together.
“As we emerge from the restrictions of the past few years and navigate the road to the ‘new normal’ of living with COVID in our communities, we encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or are unsure of next steps in new situations.
“I hope this day will be of value to you professionally, and will help you build and strengthen supportive connections within our Diocese.”
Throughout the day, members of the Chancery team delivered workshops and presentations on all facets of parish management including finances, human resources and social media. It was also an opportunity to hear about the counselling assistance the Diocese makes available to parish workers, and to meet members of the Mission Enhancement Team, who provide pastoral formation support and other ministries.
Experienced parish team member Colleen from Sacred Heart Parish, Luddenham-Warragamba, was grateful for the learning opportunities and the chance to reconnect with other parishes.
“We’ve had brief phone conversations when you have to call another parish, but [its important] to actually have that time to talk to people and find out what they’re doing, what their kids are doing, and then also meeting some new faces.
“I’ve learned a lot and found resources that I didn’t know we had.
“There’s always something that you’re not really aware of or don’t have enough information about, so [the expo] helps us to find out more.
“I’m looking forward to more of these and more opportunities to network.”
Diane and Peter from St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills, appreciated that the sessions were tailored at an appropriate parish level.
“It’s really good to reconnect, because we’ve been away for so long. It’s lovely to see everyone again,” Diane said.
“I’ve spoken to a few people from the parishes and it’s good to know what they’re doing, how they’re going, because although we do get support from the Diocese, we always rely on our sister parishes to talk to and find out a different way to overcome challenges we face.
“This forum allows us to remember that the Diocese is there to help and to work with other people in the parishes as well.”
Peter added, “it’s been an environment where everyone’s been able to share and to learn and network. It’s a non-judgemental environment where people can be honest and open with their feedback and conversations.
“It’s been quite humbling the amount of genuine offers of support for the parishes.
“It’s a chance for the Diocesan office to reaffirm to the parishes of the great work they are doing.”