In our desire to become disciples of Jesus, we all find ourselves occasionally in good company on the road to Emmaus with our big questions.
Such was our experience recently at the Parramatta Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) Reflection and Formation Day, held on Saturday 1 June 2019, at the Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre, Mulgoa.
Well attended by many DPC members, Tanya Quinn, EA & Project Administration Assistant and Lisa Bright, Project Officer from the Pastoral Planning Office, along with Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv – we were further enriched by the lived experiences of two inspiring facilitators, namely Br Aengus Kavanagh FSP, and Sr Leone Pallisier OSU.
The day was orchestrated by members of the DPC Executive Committee – Len Blahut, Michael Tan and Sr Catherine Slattery – to provide a suitable stretch of time for our next challenge.
Since our inauguration as a council in December 2017, our focus, under the guidance of Richard McMahon, Director of Pastoral Planning & Implementation in our diocese, has been the Plenary 2020 process.
The key purpose of this Reflection and Formation day was twofold – to focus on the formation of our DPC members towards a richness of our communion as a council, and to gain clarity on our role within the diocese as a whole.
Bishop Vincent affirmed the members of the council as a body, serving not only in an advisory capacity, but also as a challenge to diocesan decisions that may not be in step with healthy and safe pastoral practices.
After Bishop Vincent offered a gracious vote of thanks to the facilitators, Aengus and Leone, and offered an overview of his vision for the diocese, the second half of the day was dedicated to preparing for the upcoming Diocesan Forum on July 13. We were fortunate to gain further insights into the agenda, reviewing some briefing documents, discussing key themes of Plenary 2020, and finally, framing the next steps.
There is much that lies ahead for each of us on the newly-formed DPC of Parramatta, and we ask that the wider community continue to offer prayers for our council members. We must continue to nourish our faith and grow in our understanding and practice of the gospel injunction of servant leadership. This call is not only found in our Scriptures but is augmented by incisive teachings from other sources, such as the writings of Steven Covey, who offers a way to embrace a necessary paradigm shift in our culture towards trust and embody new leadership skills to meet others where they are at on their personal journey, and to foster a communion where differences are accepted and celebrated as aspects of our catholicity.
Though at times it may feel like we are working on a long and invisible assembly line, and at a pace that may seem slow, the day-long event gave us confidence as a community of passionate people who’ve been called to become an effective body in the diocese.
The famous Australian poet Noel Davis, perhaps summed it up beautifully in his poem, “Taking each other beyond what we alone see” in Together at the Edge – to build a fabric of trust in each other and in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom. We need to be open to hear what the Spirit is telling us, and receive it in a way where we can share it with others who accompany us on our journey of life. Noel Davis writes:
Accompanying each other
caring for each other
doing things together
taking each other
beyond what we alone see
to places we have never been
finding a way through the impasses
growing in trust and self confidence
and the audacity to explore another way
bring into the light our unlived selves
Grow us into the fullness of ourselves
And expand the frontiers of our freedom to choose.
Thanks goes to those in attendance – Lisa Bright, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Kevin Wilson, Sr Leone Pallisier OSU, Br Aengus Kavanagh FSP, Tanya Quinn, Michael Tan, Sr Catherine Slattery SGS, Kiera Warda, Mindy Mercado, Mei Velasco, Patrice Moriarty, Padmi Pathinather, David Buckley, Sr Grace Roclawska csfn, Len Blahut, Leo Tucker and Colleen-Ann Pillay.
With thanks to members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council Executive Committee, Padmi Pathinather, Len Blahut, Michael Tan and Sr Catherine Slattery SGS.