One of the things that the Coronavirus pandemic has revealed to us is that human beings are capable of great resilience and adaptability. It is amazing, for example, how choirs have come together and created the most beautiful pieces on a virtual platform. Just search your internet browser and you will find the most amazing performances. Similarly, many restaurants and cafes have been creative in turning to online delivery and takeaway menus. You can find anything from the simple burger in a box to the most sophisticated dinner party, delivered with finishing instructions. People have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, started new business, researched and learned new skills in language, home renovation, history, culture and much more. One of my friends has taken up pottery, another has made a chair. This in no way takes away from the great hardship that many have also endured. But, it is worth reflecting on the ingenuity and creativity of the human spirit as well. It will be that kind of ingenuity and imagination, after all, that will ultimately find a vaccine for COVID-19.
I wonder if our Church is able to grasp this moment in a creative way too. It is one of the key themes of Pope Francis as he continues to urge us to look outwards and beyond the way we have always done things. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he puts it like this:
Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. (Evangelii Gaudium 33)
In parish life, the task of thinking about and planning for the future is undertaken by the Parish Pastoral Council. In our parishes that work is being done by two groups: the Combined Parish Councils of Camberwell, Balwyn and Deepdene, led by Vince Curatore and Julie Douglas, and the Interim Leadership Team at Surrey Hills Wattle Park led by Peter Collery. These two teams are regularly grappling with the strategic direction and the structure of our parishes. The underlying aim of strategic direction and structure is to offer to as many people as possible the opportunity to be part of a Catholic community of faith; to deepen their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and to express that faith in word and action.
In recent months the leaders of our Councils have also been in discussion with our neighbours at North Balwyn-East Kew and Greythorn, two parishes under the leadership of Father John Salvano. Together we have been exploring ways that we could further support one another and work together to open up more opportunities for people to belong to our communities of faith. The COVID-19 lockdown has given us the opportunity to progress these discussions.
Together we have focused our attention on the potential that we have, when working together, to offer better opportunities for youth ministry, for catechesis, for adult education and faith formation and much more. Over the coming months we hope to involve more people in our deliberations and planning. Our parish councils are very active groups and are continually looking to our future, as well as maintaining current parish life. Let’s hope that our parishes also can be resilient and adaptable as we look to how we can respond to the gospel in a COVID-19 and post COVID-19 world.
Parish Council Member details are on each of our websites. Get to know your council members today.