Deanery consultations for the Diocesan Synod have commenced, with over 200 parishioners discussing their experiences and thoughts around the Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
There’s still time to participate with three more Deanery consultations scheduled to take place in June.
Over the past two weeks, faith communities of the Northern and Mountains Deaneries – priests, deacons, consecrated and lay people – have shared their hopes and dreams for the future of the Church the Diocese of Parramatta.
Mission Enhancement Team (MET) Facilitator Donnie Velasco, a facilitator at the gatherings, explained that there has been a graciousness in the process from people participating and the volunteers organising them.
“People have been beautifully engaged in the process,” he said. “There’s a generosity in spirit in terms of people entering into the reflections on the night and how they respond to the fundamental question posed by Bishop Vincent.”
A key feature of the consultation sessions is engaging in the Ignatian spirituality practice of spiritual conversations, which involves listening to the Holy Spirit through intentional speaking and listening, with everyone given the opportunity to share openly and honestly.
“It was wonderful to listen to others respectfully and to hear their opinions and also having them listen to you – it was a very respectful process,” said Dilani Dhammapala from St Paul the Apostle Parish, Winston Hills. “We learnt from each other, we were deeply touched by each person’s views.”
Andrew Gorkic from Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill, added, “one thing I did like about the session was the moments to speak uninterrupted. A lot of people want to be heard and tonight was only the beginning of those conversations.”
Donnie emphasised the respectful approach of the consultations. “We remind participants that even though we are encouraged to speak boldly, out of the conviction that each person has God’s spirit within them, we’re also asked to listen with humility as well.”
“The Diocesan Synod is important because it’s an opportunity for everyone to gather and feel as though they are heard, to share their voices and speak, hopefully inspired by the Holy Spirit, about what they see as important for both the present and the future of the Church here in the Diocese of Parramatta,” Judith-Grace Vella from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, explained.
“It’s strengthening for the community, it’s strengthening for the person in their soul. It’s two hours out of one day – that’s two TV show episodes,” Earl Carvalho from St John XXIII Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens joked.
Michelle Davis from Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath, said, “I’m hoping that we are listened to, that the Church widens up and really acknowledges that we all have gifts and we are all part of the mission to spread the Good News in our modern-day world.”
The Diocesan Synod will feed into an action plan to be developed in 2024.
There are still more opportunities for you to share your story with your local community. Over the coming weeks, Bishop Vincent is travelling throughout the Diocese and listening directly to people’s stories and suggestions about our Church. Join him at one of three locations to have your say. Events start at 6.30pm with light refreshments:
- Saturday 3 June at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
- Saturday 17 June at St Andrew the Apostle Primary School, Marayong.
- Saturday 24 June at Holy Spirit Primary School, St Clair.
The Diocese has also produced a video from the Mountains Deanery consultation session on Saturday 20 May, which you can view below:
The Diocese is also inviting parishioners to submit individual submissions if they wish, or to create a group submission with family and friends, parish or community groups.
To register for your local consultation and to learn more about the Diocesan Synod, visit parracatholic.org/synod2023