SPECIAL REPORT: Joint Parish Retreat Day – Supporting fellow Catholics at the heart of discussions
Small group discussions during the day allowed for participants to brainstorm ideas on various topics. Photo: Josh Low.
By Josh Low
Networking and building strong connections with other likeminded Catholics was the focus of discussions for the Joint Parish Retreat Day last Saturday 10 March.
The parishes of Mt Lawley, Highgate and Joondanna, together with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross all attended with their respective Parish Priests for the event.
Small group discussions during the day allowed for participants to brainstorm ideas on various topics, such as what parishioners can give to their parishes and the practical means of doing so, as well as addressing the questions of ‘What do I need from God?’ and ‘How can my parish help with this?’.
Each small group’s findings were then taken to a larger open discussion, facilitated by Mt Lawley Parish Priest Fr Tim Deeter and Leader of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Mgr Harry Entwistle.
Participant Antoinette Torre said it is important for parishes to have the frameworks in place, to open up possibilities for Christ to move in people’s hearts.
“We reflected on the times in our lives; that youth group, that choir, that one homily which gave us the opportunity to grow and develop in our faith.
“So I think if we can tap into that moment of our own inspiration, we can then explore how to provide a framework for those around us in the parish, and that could be a really positive thing.
“I think it’s important that as parishes we have that framework available to our children, to the youth, young couples and older groups; so that with it, even if our group sizes wax and wane, God has the opportunity to reach out to touch the heart of each individual when the time is right,” she said.
Mt Lawley parishioner Siobhan Page believes parishes can only benefit by having people connect with and know each other for faith formation and support in living the faith. Photo: Josh Low.
Participant Siobhan Page said being involved in a vibrant community and seeing a living faith in others engaged and interested in Catholicism was something that touched her on her own journey of faith.
“That’s why I think an event like this where there is a larger Catholic network coming together to inspire each other and share ideas can be very powerful,” she said.
Having come to the retreat day with her husband as new parishioners of Mt Lawley Parish, Siobhan explained that they went without many expectations, but a desire to deepen their involvement with the parish.
“The best thing was meeting the people that I see often at Mass but don't know personally.
“I believe it is so important to have personal relationships with other Catholics and that parishes can only benefit by having the people connect with and know each other, know that they want the same things like faith formation and support in living out the faith for their parishes, the wider Church, their family and themselves.
“With those connections, forged through a day of prayer and reflection, good things will surely follow!” she concluded.
Fr Deeter said winning souls for Christ, especially those of the young people in society, lies behind our call as Catholics. Photo: Josh Low.
The Parish Priests, Fathers Tim Deeter (Mt Lawley), Irek Czech (Highgate), Anthony Rathinam OSM (Joondanna) and leader of the Ordinariate OLSC, Mgr Harry Entwistle, unanimously agreed that one of the key areas is to build up the Catholic faith in the youth, both in schools as well as parishes.
Fr Deeter added that central to this aspect lay the call to win souls for God.
“Through what we are doing here, it is a start on looking at ways that we can reach out and change the system so that we can bring to young people more deeply into our Church and the fullness of the Catholic faith.
“At the end of the day we have to remember what God is calling us to do at the heart of it all; he’s calling us to win souls.
“He’s not just calling us to establish programs and have more meetings; he’s calling us to win souls for Christ, and our children’s souls are the most important.”