CO-OPERATION is the buzz word for Fr Peter Dillon, Ipswich’s newest administrator for the Rosewood, Leichhardt, North Ipswich, and Ipswich parishes.
Appointed to help Fr Dillon with the four parishes, which have responsibility for 11 churches, are newly ordained Fr Neville Yun, former Kingaroy parish priest Fr John Hong and Fr Joseph Liem, who has been with the parish since August 2013.
This model for the Ipswich and surrounding areas will connect and consolidate the four parishes, uniting their community life.
The four priests will work together to provide sacramental programs, assist in the six affiliated Catholic schools, work in the local hospital and strengthen the community life of the four parishes.
Fr Dillon said the area was already fairly resilient, having previously “put up with lots of uncertainty” in the town.
“The thing that’s really pleasantly surprised me is the parishioners in each of those places are open to the fact that we’re working in a co-operative way,” Fr Dillon said.
He said his vision for the parish was aligned with Pope Francis’ request to hear from all Catholics about their experience of the faith.
“The Pope is saying let’s name the issues that are occupying people’s minds and how we locally address them,” he said.
“He’s very clearly provided a lot of good intentions and a lot of hope for people.
“I want people to own both the issues that they like around the church as well as the things they don’t.”
Fr Dillon said he urged families from the surrounding Catholic schools to not just engage with the school community, but also “build up the parish”.
“It’s not good enough for people to say they’ve paid the school fees so they don’t have to do anything with the parish,” he said.
“The parish puts a lot of time into those schools, and in return, we want them to build up the parish and contribute to the parish, not just financially, but even just their presence.”
With a history extending back more than 150 years, Fr Dillon said the lay Catholic community in Ipswich and surrounds was strong, and would be an important factor in growing the parishes.
“The little communities themselves are quite vibrant,” he said.
“I don’t know of any church or community that’s folded.
“Lay people are really going to have to say, these are the things that we do here.
“I want the laity to know this is what your fellow potential parishioners are dealing with, (and) maximise the potential of getting together for the common things.”