“In the face of so many wounds, that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience His tenderness”. Pope Francis (Lent 2014)
“By keeping the words of Pope Francis blazing in our hearts and minds, by being prayerful, listening deeply with an open and humble heart, let us not be afraid, to swim to the open seas and go out into the deep.” – Ian Epondulan and Laura Bellissimo, Central Deanery Youth Ambassadors.
On 2 March 2020, 130 members of the Diocese of Parramatta’s Central Deanery gathered at the parish hall of St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong, to discover, dream and design. To DISCOVER where aspirations were shared, to DREAM of our key hopes and to DESIGN where goals and timelines for can be done on a Parish and Deanery level.
View images from the Central Deanery Forum here or below
The Central Deanery stretches from Wentworthville to Plumpton and Marsden Park and incorporates eleven parishes and one parochial district.
Every faith community in the Deanery was represented at the forum, including a number of Principals, Religious Education Coordinators and students from primary and high schools around the deanery. The forum featured two keynote inputs by Maria Hyson, parishioner at St Andrew’s and Richard McMahon, Director of Pastoral Planning and Implementation for the Diocese of Parramatta.
Bill Ryan, chairperson of the Central Deanery, hoped that people would come together in a way where they could share thoughts in an open and humble environment. After the forum he said, “from the feedback I have received from participants, the goal was achieved. At each table there was respectful listening and an openness to hear what the Spirit was saying and hear the point of view of each and every person.”
“As a result of the design phase, tables came up with concrete actions that will be taken back to the Central Deanery Pastoral Council. At our next meeting, we will discuss how we can apply these actions with the collaboration of parishes across the deanery. The Deanery Pastoral Council will support all of the parishes across the deanery as we work together to bring to life the proposed actions,” he said
Dean of the Central Deanery, Fr Paul Marshall, parish priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, was also very happy with the forum and what it achieved.
“It was great to see the enthusiasm in which people entered into the forum. It was obvious that they had concerns which had motivated them to come. It was great to see such large numbers,” he said.
“The strongest point made on the day was the desire for social outreach and pooling of resources. This was made very clear at different points during the day.”
One of the highlights of the forum was the collaboration between the Deanery Pastoral Council, the Deanery Clergy Council and the Central Deanery Youth Ambassadors – Laura Bellissimo, Ian Epondulan and Michael Webster, supported by Sean Turner. The Pastoral Planning Office also assisted in facilitating the work of this joint group and the behind-the-scenes support on the day.
“The youth ambassadors were excellent in their preparation for the day and on the day. They helped steer the messages we wanted to share – to look at the Bishop’s vision to go out into the deep.” Bill Ryan said.
Fr Paul shared Bill Ryan’s praises for the Youth Ambassadors. “I was very impressed with the Youth Ambassadors and how they got behind the forum. On the day, there were very upfront and did an extremely inspiring job.”
Fr Paul gave special thanks to Bill Ryan. “As Deanery Pastoral council chairperson, Bill gave a lot of time to prepare for the forum and put in a lot of work behind the scenes.”
The forum organisers were very grateful for the volunteer efforts of many people – all of whom were willing and able to rise to the task. People shared their gifts in hospitality, as table facilitators, writing teams and technology team. The Antioch youth movement from The Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton, led the day with music. Sean Turner created a beautiful piece of artwork incorporating the logos of each parish/parochial district into a cross – all faith communities as part of one Body of Christ.
The forum, in its preparation, execution and outcomes, demonstrated the design for bringing to life deanery initiatives. Fr Paul hopes that as parishes we can “synergise and leverage with each other more. We need to do more together in these times of limited resources and uncertainty. We need to continue to go out into the deep.”
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office. The Pastoral Planning Office is available to support parishes and deaneries as they continue to go out into the deep. Call (02) 8838 3441 to talk further.
View images from the Central Deanery Forum here or below.