By Olivia Bunter
The next phase in Strengthening and Revitalising Parishes was initiated during May with three diocesan Gatherings.
The Gatherings were conducted in parish venues in the northern, southern and eastern areas of the city.
More than 100 parish pastoral councillors from 41 parishes attended, with Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Episcopal Vicar for Strengthening and Revitalising of Parishes, as host and keynote speaker.
Bishop Sproxton spoke of the early church and its coming together at various stages to discuss the way forward and the collaboration between various centres of Catholic faith.
Bishop Sproxton continued by explaining the theology behind the initiative of the Gatherings, reinforcing that we belong to an apostolic and missionary Church.
“This means we are a Church that can never be content just to be static, we are a people who are called to reach out and looking for new ways of doing things,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“I think is something we must bear in mind and is part of the standing of our theology as a Church, that we are apostolic especially in our times in the way which we are missionary.”
Bishop Sproxton added that through the implementation of the Archdiocesan Plan, with the Strengthening and Revitalising priority area in particular, he hopes those involved will be able to achieve many of the objectives they have set for themselves, including plans to form parish hubs.
“There has been a, spontaneous it seems, formation of a group of parishes who see a common need and thought maybe we could do this together and maybe we’ll do it much better if we do it together,” Bishop Sproxton explained.
“Sharing the gifts, magnifying the power of the gifts that are there within that region, making it possible for those things to be achieved and making it into what the parish needs to be.
“Other hubs are developing which I will think have their own character because they’ve got their own history and a different set of gifts within those hubs and parishes and will each have its own characters, but it will be a way in which the parishes experience the spirit working within them building up the community of God in that area in a way that hasn’t been possible before,” Bishop Sproxton concluded.
Strengthening and Revitalising Parishes priority area coordinator Fr Nino Vinciguerra explained to The eRecord that the aim of the Gatherings has been to create an awareness and understanding of the initiative and where it stands today, just over halfway through the process.
“To advance the original conversation involving collaboration between parishes and to discuss, in more depth, the nature of this new way of thinking and to explore the possibility of developing new hubs,” Fr Vinciguerra said.
“I am thrilled with the dedication and participation demonstrated by so many of Perth’s parishes,” he said.
Archdiocesan Manager Strategy and Implementation Renay Grech spoke briefly about the Gatherings and how they are an important process in which highlight how the program aims for parishes to collaborate and bring each strengths and talents of the community within the Archdiocese.
“It is our biggest learning point,” Mr Grech said.
“We’re learning what we can do to support parishes and getting feedback in terms of what would be most helpful for them. It is about giving a parish new life, new energy and new activity.”
Baldivis Parish Priest Fr Geoff Aldous has been a part of the formation of a Hub in the Southern region that includes Baldivis, Port Kennedy, Kwinana, and Rockingham parishes.
Fr Aldous spoke about the benefits he has witnessed going through the experience of developing a Hub in the southern region, including the development of support between parishes and local schools.
“It’s quite unique and we can see the benefit as priests at that stage,” he said about the early stages of development.
“We invited people to come and look at areas of common interest; then main ones were youth, adult faith formation and education,” Fr Aldous added.
“After a while, the process develops with a spirit of networking and people meet and get to know each other and that has generated a good sense of spirit and solidarity all around.”