Early in 2015, Fr Linh established a Parish Advisory Team to support him in his work as PP. Standing in the place of a Parish Council, involving the parishioners in the management of the Parish, this team of five has worked with Fr Linh just about every fortnight since then to bring to life a plan of action for the future of the Parish. It has now been approximately two and a half years since a series of Focus Groups were undertaken (in the later stages of 2015) with a random selection of parishioners from all spheres of parish life. The intent of the Focus groups was to determine a way to paint a picture of where the people wanted our parish to be by 2025.
The outcomes of those groups gave considerable direction to the Parish Advisory Team. To keep those foci to the forefront at all times, the Advisory team developed a statement of intent, and you will be familiar with it on this website:
Journeying with Jesus
transforming our parish
Into a vibrant living community.
The major themes emerging from the focus groups for future development were:
School /Parish linkage
b. Asset Management.
d. Social Justice and Outreach
Asset management started the ball rolling, with the immediate and necessary investigation into the viability of the repairs to Nazareth Church. Then, throughout 2016-2017 much has happened in relation to the management of our assets that simply could not be ignored, nor put off till some other time:
- the parish house was falling apart, and new accommodation was needed for the PP, but where (Should we rent, buy or build? What would be needed for the future development of the parish? Where was the most sensible and practical place for the PP to live? Etc etc…)
- the church at Grovedale was also having major problems (repairs estimates varied greatly and had to be done and redone; should we spend that sort of money for an hour’s use once a week? Should the church be demolished? Should the building be leased out??? And so many more questions)
- the roof of the Office disappeared in the wind and a hurried removal to the back room of the church at Torquay took place amidst mayhem for a while.
- Once repairs had been affected, decisions had to be made as to the continued use or not, of the Grovedale office; if not, could it be utilised as an income producing asset by being leased out?
- the sale of the parish house in Grovedale and rental accommodation sought in Torquay
- threaded throughout all these concerns was the birthing of our latest school, Lisieux CPS, (and it took almost a two-year labour to get it open this year!)
- as well as the appointment of the new principal for Nazareth CPS.
- And the early part of this year has begun the 2-year labour, to bring to birth the next school in Warralily in 2020.
Even yet, some of the above issues still require thought, imagination, discernment and prayer.
And so we come to the recent Parish Master Plan Meetings, which have been held to hear the results of the work Fr Linh and the Parish Advisory Team (in constant communication with the appropriate Archdiocesan bodies) have been doing in the construction a Parish Master Plan for the future. The meetings were both constructive and positive, with parishioners making comment and raising issues as they felt the need to. Several people offered their opinion that what was presented was perhaps not what they had hoped for as they had expected a plan full of dates and anticipated outcomes, together with achievements as they occur. One comment was that 'what was presented was more of a vision than a plan' while another saw it as being 'both a completion and a beginning.'
It has been a long time getting to this point, and parishioners rightly have asked questions and wondered if anything at all was happening. So yes, there is a validity to those few comments, bbut what we need to be conscious of is that what was presented was prayerfully discerned and visionary, a living concept that will necessarily change over time. At this point in time, we have moved to a stage of completion of but one phase of our Master Plan and the beginning of the next, as we seek to transform our parish into a vibrant living community, journeying together with Jesus through life.
At the end of the latter two meetings, the following excerpt from the first chapter of Chris Lowney’s book “EVERYONE LEADS. How to revitalise the Catholic Church” was shared, as it was a very fitting way to end those meetings.
An EASTeR strategy to revitalise the church.
That’s what this book will attempt. First will come the frank appraisal of our predicament, the “burning platform” for change. Then, we will rediscover the way of Jesus and learn lessons from Jesus’s earliest followers. That will be the touchstone for all that follows: any worthy strategy for our future must be anchored in Jesus and our tradition. Upon that foundation, we will construct a strategy for revitalising our church around five key principles; those fond of acronyms can fittingly call it our “EASTeR project.”
That is, our church will:
• be more ENTREPRENEURIAL, more creative and innovative in everything we do
• be more ACCOUNTABLE. We will be good stewards who make best use of the talents and resources God has entrusted to the church; we will monitor our results, successes, and failures.
And we will emphasise three overarching priorities for action:
• SERVE the world’s poor and marginalised peoples.
• TRANSFORM the hearts and souls of our members.
• REACH OUT to engage and welcome the wider world.
Serve, transform, and reach out; do so with accountability and entrepreneurial flair. Those five ideas will unite Catholics, focus our efforts, revolutionise our approach to problems and opportunities, and give birth to a church that can thrive in the 21st-century.
(A parishioner asked if he could submit a report of the second meeting as he experienced it, and that can be read here.)