By Josh Low
In what has been described as ground breaking by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, four neighbouring parishes from the Archdiocese of Perth united for a Joint Parish Retreat Day to chart a course into the future for their communities.
Hosted by Mt Lawley Parish and Parish Priest Fr Tim Deeter at St Paul’s Primary School on 10 March, 70 people from the parishes of Mt Lawley, Highgate, Joondanna and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross were in attendance.
With the keynote address delivered by Bishop Sproxton, the event was part of an initiative in line with the Archdiocesan Plan for Strengthening and Revitalising Parishes.
In his address to those present, Bishop Sproxton said the retreat day was a very important way of inspiring and encouraging one another and a way in which new ideas could be shared with other communities.
“A day like this is a great opportunity for us to look at the ways in which we can assist one another, what sort of pastoral work is a challenge for each of us and what work we could then do together,” he said.
He said the hope was for the day to be replicated in the future across the Archdiocese with the aim of building a stronger Catholic presence in the various regions.
“These hubs of parishes will hopefully provide a model for other parishes.
“We hope they will be able to see that through the outcomes of this meeting and from the sharing of experiences, it might open up some possibilities in other areas so other hubs can be formed.
“In this way, opportunities will arise for them to continue working together to create a more vibrant community in each parish and as a whole in that region therefore, a stronger Catholic presence through the various ministries they work together on,” Bishop Sproxton said.
Bishop Sproxton added that we need to be Christian communities that are ‘Resurrection communities’.
“The spirit of the resurrection and a large measure of hope needs to be something that people can see in us, and in our communities; that we have something to offer and that we’re prepared to offer it.” he said.
“That we’re not going to give in, lie down or die, but are going to be a community that is constantly looking for ways in which we can grow, be more effective witnesses of Christ, and more effectively able to bring the Gospel message to people that can transform their lives too so that they can live with that same spirit of the resurrection; of new life with hope,” he concluded.
Co-ordinator of the Archdiocesan Parish Renewal Implementation Group, Fr Nino Vinciguerra, said the retreat day looked at every aspect of parish life across the different communities.
He followed by emphasising the importance of working together to discern the will of God for each individual parishes plan for the future.
“I think it’s important to come together, collaborate and discern; to unite together,” he said.
“Very importantly, it’s not about merging parishes or dismantling parish boundaries at all, but respecting the identity of each individual parish.
“However, being filled with that knowledge and understanding of our parish, we come to figure out by collaborating and discerning together in a Christ centred, prayer filled way what God wants us to be doing, and these are exciting times,” Fr Nino said.
“What we are doing today is a first. It may seem simple but in fact is quite extraordinary and we are looking to use this example today to encourage hubs of other parishes to see what is possible when we unite.”