Information Bulletin 75

September 2005

{slide=Introduction} Dear brothers in ministry
Our National Commission is proposing to organise a gathering in May 2006 for those priests who are working in what we are calling “mega-parishes”. Our working definition of that term is a parish consisting of more than 10,000 Catholic parishioners.
The particular focus will not be on pastoral planning, but on the priests’ life and ministry. We hope to draw on the experience and wisdom of the participants. How do they manage the challenges of their parish? What supports do they draw on, and what more do they need? And what advice would they give to other priests who are moving into similar parishes for the first time?
We see a value in these priests meeting each other and networking, and we will prepare a written report of the gathering, for the benefit of others. It could be the beginning of ongoing discussion, perhaps to link up later with pastoral planning bodies, diocesan agencies, etc. It could also provide good information for those priests who may, in the foreseeable future, be called upon to administer similar situations for the first time.
Your local diocesan director of clergy life and ministry (or equivalent) will be able to keep you informed.

Peter Brock, Executive Officer
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More On-Line Homily Resources
Fr Alister McLean from Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese has forwarded an updated list of on-line homily sites that you may find helpful. They are on our website, and you may like to have a look for yourself. Go to www.auspriest.org, go to Homilies. Thanks, Alister, and I would always welcome other comments, suggestions and feedback about our website.
“Priests should cultivate a series of human qualities, not only out of proper and due growth and realisation of self, but also with a view to the ministry. These qualities are needed for them to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behaviour”.

Pastores Dabo Vobis 43
The Sandhurst clergy reflected on these words of Pope John Paul II during their recent gathering. Here are some of their comments:
“In the past we were given the image of priests as Pioneers, blazing the trail, then as Settlers, happy to exist. What is the image now? Is it priests as Survivors, or priests as Prophets?”
“A community cannot be devoid of Conflicts, Conflagrations, Confrontations. They must be addressed. Priests want to live in a life-giving way within their community”.
“Criticism leads me to face who I am, and what I am on about. Need to Hand Over to God, and to Put Trust In God, generously”.
{/slide} {slide=100 at a clergy conference} A Hundred at a Clergy Conference ..?
In August I attended a clergy gathering at which there were about 100 participants. It was a combined clergy conference of the Catholic Dioceses of Broken Bay and Maitland-Newcastle, and the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. These three groups of clergy meet every year, with Bishops David Walker, Michael Malone and the new Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, Bishop Brian Farran, (recently arrived from Western Australia).
The morning session was a Scripture reflection on the Paschal Mystery in John’s Gospel, led by Fr Kevin O’Shea CSsR.
In the afternoon the group spent time studying the recent document from the National Council of Churches (Australia), concerning “multi-dimensional covenants”.
The Catholic Church in Australia is signatory to most of these covenants, which include a commitment to pray together; to share physical resources; to consult before major new developments are undertaken; to explore issues and strategies for mission; to develop guidelines for meeting the needs of people in local (especially rural) areas; to recognise the Sacrament of Baptism and promote the use of a common Certificate of Baptism; to explore further steps to make more clearly visible the unity of all Christian people in this country.
The gathering agreed on the following resolution:
“that in the next twelve months there be a joint meal followed by a joint sitting of the Anglican and Catholic pastoral councils in each local area, with the meeting focusing on the possibilities for covenanting in each local area”.

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Hurricane Katrina
In the USA the vicars for clergy (or equivalent title) have an email link-up service among themselves, and I am a member of this on-line group. In recent weeks this forum has provided many insights into the consequences of the hurricane in the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama area. As with other members of their parishes, there are priests who have lost all their possessions. One religious order reported that “their 25 priests in the affected area were all accounted for, but all were jobless and homeless, and are trying to make their way to Texas and other places until they can get organised. Their provincial offices were destroyed”. A priest from Baton Rouge reported “the Archbishop of New Orleans and several of the archdiocesan offices have set up offices here and plan to operate out of here until they can return to New Orleans. Our diocese is also trying to house as many New Orleans priests as would like to stay in Baton Rouge”. Another priest wrote “one of the biggest needs that one of the affected bishops shared with us was for hosts. Everything is literally gone in some of these areas”.
We in Australia have had our experiences of the forces of nature, from Cyclone Tracey in Darwin to the Newcastle earthquake, and recent cyclone damage in Kalumburu parish (Broome) and Bunbury Cathedral. Our thoughts and prayers will be with our brothers in ministry, and their people, in these very sad and trying times in the USA.
{/slide} {slide=National Commission Meeting}
National Commission Meeting in Perth

Our National Commission consists of twelve people (for the Commission’s current membership, see www.auspriest.org) and meets twice a year.
Usually these meetings take place on the east coast but in January 2006, for the first time, we plan to hold a Commission meeting in Perth.
We have felt that the only way we could justify the extra expense involved would be if, while in Perth, we could use the opportunity to meet some of the clergy in the West, and talk to them and listen to them.
With the support of Archbishop Hickey, we have planned a day for the clergy of Perth (and any from neighbouring dioceses who may be able to attend) on Wednesday 1 February. Members of the Commission will speak about some of the issues we work with, including diocesan spirituality, “priests for the future” and ethnic diversity in the Church and presbyterate.
This will be the first time that we have planned to meet local clergy during a Commission meeting, and members of the Commission have been generous in scheduling an additional day into their busy lives to include this gathering.
We are hopeful that the day in Perth will be valuable and fruitful.
And if so, it may also serve as a useful template for future Commission meetings held in the other places – another example of the west of the country showing the way to the rest of the country.

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  • Created: 01 September 2005
  • Modified: 23 April 2009