ARCHBISHOP John Bathersby of Brisbane has announced new directions for the archdiocese, with an emphasis on igniting the hearts and minds of Catholics at parish level.
In his promulgation on July 27 in St Stephen’s Cathedral to mark the end of Synod 2003 ‘ a process of consultation and listening which began two and a half years ago ‘ he outlined a series of priorities to take the archdiocese forward in faith and evangelisation.
The archbishop wishes to revive the participation of the almost 600,000 Catholics in the archdiocese, of whom about 80,000 attend Mass regularly.
The strategy will see parish communities being encouraged and financed to help drive nine key priorities.
The priorities are:
- Embracing the person and vision of Jesus Christ.
- Improving the Christian Communion of the local Church at the parish level by making it a more welcoming and inclusive Church.
- Improving the life-giving quality of our liturgy at all levels, but especially at the local parish level.
- Catholics recognise and value the impact of their everyday Christian living on building a better world.
- Young people are helped by faith development opportunities to integrate their faith with everyday experiences.
- Parish pastoral leadership is promoted, supported and resourced at all levels.
- The person and message of Jesus and the works of the Church are effectively communicated in the wider society.
- Parishes accept and value the initiative of small groups to nurture and support people in their faith journey.
- A deeper awareness of and commitment to social justice and social welfare are characteristic of Catholics throughout the archdiocese.
These priorities will come under three vital dimensions of faith ‘ Jesus, Communion and Mission, a central focus of the archdiocese’s renewal.
The archbishop told the congregation of synod participants in the cathedral that the parish-based renewal push would see a review of funds from the second collection at Masses, with the intention of redirecting a substantial portion towards personnel on the ground in deaneries, supporting deans, parish priests and pastoral councils in implementing the synod priorities.
‘I am prepared to redirect funds for up to five years as seeding for a new phase of synod-inspired life and mission in our parishes,’ Archbishop Bathersby said.
The Archbishop’s Pastoral Council was named as the body to assist the archbishop and Council of Priests to oversee the implementation of synod priorities. As a further move, the Archbishop’s Pastoral Council is to be renamed the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and membership will be reviewed in light of new responsibilities for council members.
Archbishop Bathersby has also commissioned the formation of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, which will be drafted by early 2004 as the main vehicle for carrying forward the synod priorities. This project will be the responsibility of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and will address implementation and resource issues in more detail.
Archbishop Bathersby said the auxiliary bishops and deans would play a vital role in leading parishes to work together in implementing the synod priorities.
‘Our attempts to apply the priorities of the synod to our parishes are merely a starting point,’ he said.
‘The synod will not suddenly change this archdiocese for the better, nor will it suddenly bring back to the mainstream of the Church all those Catholics who presently exist on its edges.
‘Nevertheless it would be marvellous if the synod could be seen in the future as a significant moment of resurrection for our archdiocese.
‘Only God will know how effective we have been in trying to implement the synod recommendations.
‘Christ has invited us in the gospel today to put out into the deep and that is precisely what we will try to do in the years ahead.’
He said an archdiocesan gathering of key people would be held in 2008 to review progress on the implementation of the synod outcomes.
For more synod stories and pictures see this week’s print edition of The Catholic Leader .