SPRINGFIELD parish has called in the renovators, but it isn’t for their church – it’s for the un-churched and the de-churched.
Parish priest Fr Mauro Conte and parish evangelisation director Vanessa Comninos (pictured) are welcoming everyone in Brisbane archdiocese to join them for the Divine Renovation open house at Our Lady of the Southern Cross Church on September 21.
Divine Renovation was focused on parish renewal.
This meant moving from an inward-facing community focused on maintenance to an outward-reaching parish focused on mission.
Mrs Comninos said Springfield parish would love to share with other parishes what they had learned, their mistakes and their victories.
“Our common goal is to change lives and bring people to Jesus, it doesn’t matter if it’s in Springfield or Noosa,” she said.
The open house will have two guest speakers via video recordings from Divine Renovation – Fr James Mallon and Ron Huntley, from Canada. Mrs Comninos said Divine Renovation worked on three levels. The first level was the primacy of evangelisation.
For Springfield parish this meant Alpha and how it applied some of the principles learned in Alpha to evangelising through the sacraments.
The second level was promoting the best in leadership practices. This was achieved by developing a parish vision.
“A great leader could transform a parish that is stuck in day-to-day running, and influence others to actually living out the great conviction,” Mrs Cominos said.
Fr Conte said it was also about a whole new model of leadership.
“I think as priests we need to revise our role and empower people to lead their vocations as Christians, as baptised people, so that’s where leadership can make a difference,” he said.
The third level was leaning into the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit’s gift is the Body of Christ to serve and grow the Kingdom,” Mrs Comninos said.
These digestible lessons reoriented parishes towards renewal.
Fr Conte and Mrs Comninos said this also meant developing a culture of invitation and radical hospitality.
Fr Conte said occasionally he would remind parishioners to try to bring a friend or family member or someone they loved to Alpha or Mass or a Church event.
He said it was important people didn’t see church-going as a private affair; he wanted people to know it was okay to invite others.
“Obviously we have to make sure that once they come here they find something that will attract them, find something that’s interesting, something meaningful,” Fr Conte said.
This was something the parish worked on a lot.
Fr Conte said the focus was also the un-churched and the de-churched.
Bringing in the un-churched, those who had never been invited to the Church, was just a matter of invitation, but he said the de-churched, Catholics who had left the Church, were more difficult.
“The Catholics who leave the Catholic Church are actually worshipping in other Christian churches, (we’re) trying to understand why we lost them, what we’ve done wrong and how can we get them back,” he said.
“To get back a de-churched (person) is the hardest thing to do because they’ve been there already, they know what Catholic means, they say, ‘I don’t want to go back there’.”
Springfield parish’s Divine Renovation open house seeks to unpack these ideas and offer solutions to them, while providing a time of networking and sharing what has worked and hasn’t worked for parishes across Brisbane.