At a time when the world was shutting down, St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community in Marsden Park was rising up. During lockdown, St Luke’s discerned and formed their first Pastoral Council.
St Luke’s Catholic Faith Community is the newest in the Diocese of Parramatta, but is not yet classified as a parish. A parochial district for the past three years, it is on the journey to becoming a parish.
Pastoral Leaders Deacon Tony Hoban and his wife Annette have led the community since late 2017, forming an advisory group, ministry groups and building solid leadership structures. They have established a leadership team to work with them in the day-to-day activities of the community and now a Pastoral Council, charged with the mission of representing and discerning with the community to bring to life the mission of Jesus Christ in their local area.
One may have thought that during the lockdown of COVID-19, forming new groups, let alone a pastoral council in a community, would have been too challenging a prospect. But after some initial hesitation, Deacon Tony and Annette realised that what was in front of them was opportunity.
“As the COVID lockdown occurred in March, I remember watching the TV News one night and they said the lockdown could go on for months,” said Deacon Tony.
“I was initially feeling deflated and, frankly, almost paralysed emotionally by this massive new paradigm that seemed so limiting.
“But then something inside me kicked and I thought. ‘No, there has to be a way of staying connected as a community during this crisis.’ We called a meeting of our ministry leaders and leadership team and looked at how we could best respond to COVID,” he said.
That led to Zoom liturgies and Masses over coming months with great engagement from the community.
Deacon Tony continued, “Then we thought well, if COVID hasn’t stopped us from gathering for worship, then it shouldn’t stop is from getting on with the other things we envisaged for 2020, like developing a new three-year pastoral plan and forming our first Pastoral Council.
“A draft pastoral plan was shared via a Zoom meeting after Mass one Sunday. Then we had a discernment session with a mix of Zoom and physical attendees to help people prayerfully consider what roles they could play in helping the plan to be realised. Part of this involved discerning our first Pastoral Council members.
“The Holy Spirit was certainly good to us during this process as a wonderful group of women and men stepped forward to be our initial Council members and a group of three to be our Executive.”
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, celebrated Mass at St Luke’s Catholic College at the end of August and commissioned the Council members.
The new Pastoral Council has brought new life and enthusiasm for the future of the faith community and has enabled many people with a range of skills to play an even greater role in the life of St Luke’s.
If you would like support with Pastoral Councils and Planning for Mission, please contact Richard or Lisa at the Pastoral Planning Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.