On Sunday 24 November, on a beautiful mountains afternoon, around 50 people, representing the six parishes of the Blue Mountains, gathered with energy and hope, to enter into a discernment process, on the Six Themes that resulted from the submissions in Phase One of the Listening process of the 2020 Plenary Council sharing groups.
Richard McMahon, Director of Pastoral Planning & Implementation, and Tanya Quinn, EA & Project Administration Assistant from the Diocese of Parramatta’s Pastoral Planning Office led the discernment process for members of the Blue Mountains Deanery from Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains, St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook, St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood, Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson, St Mary of the Cross Mackillop Parish, Upper Blue Mountains, and Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath.
Getting together creates its own energy and we all had a lot of thoughts and ideas to share, but like all gatherings the time was too short for all that was in our hearts. We gathered from 2pm to 4.30pm and Richard ran “a tight ship to keep us on time,” as there was so much life and energy that we could have continued for much longer.
We had tables of 4 to 8 people in a group and each of the themes were covered. Each group reflected on a scripture passage and on their particular theme’s snapshot, after a time of silence and prayer, we shared our prayerful reflection and discernment and put forward national suggestions and local suggestions.
We further discerned these using the plenary process method and the group came to a consensus and within 150 words put up a submission for both a national and a local recommendation. These proposals will now be sent to the writing group and final recommendations will be put forward for the Plenary Council 2020 to the Bishops and those chosen to do the final discernment that will be sent to Rome.
I urge the people of God to continue to pray to the Holy Spirit, that the writers and Bishops and those chosen to assist them enter the process with open ears and hearts to the needs of the Australian Catholic Church at this time in our history. That as Bishop Vincent has called, that we continue to “go out into the deep” and dare to do God’s will in the way Jesus is calling us to do in this time of Christian history for our modern world and the future.
The day was organised by the Blue Mountains Deanery Pastoral Council, with a special thanks going to Kim Crawford for his organisation and liaison behind the scenes. The day would not have been possible if not for the gathering place at St Thomas Aquinas School Hall, Springwood. It was an amazing venue and we thank St Thomas Aquinas Principal Sergio Rosato, who also joined us for the process.
A huge thanks also goes to those who attended the day and engaged so openly with the process led by Richard. It would not be a Catholic gathering without the hospitality – many great connections were made or remade over the cuppa in our break time and the unique spirit of the Blue Mountains was alive and well in our sharing and we went away energised by the process.
Now we await the outcomes and response from Rome.
Michelle Davis is a member of the Blue Mountains Deanery Pastoral Council.