A Melbourne metro parish recruits evangelisation pros to help it fulfil its mission
By Anthony Barch
Australian parishes and their members need to be focused on outreach to function as they should, participants of a key conference in Melbourne have been told.
At the Parish Evangelisation Conference at St Francis of Assisi parish in Mill Park in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on November 14-16, Bishop Joseph Grech of Sandhurst told over 100 participants that “there is no true evangelisation if the name, teaching, life, promises, Kingdom and mystery of Jesus… are not proclaimed”, quoting Pope Paul VI.
He also reminded participants that it is often grandparents who pass on the faith to their grandchildren.
Conference organisers said all events were aimed at reaching people with the message of the Gospel, leading them closer to God through the practice of their everyday lives, but without compromising on the Truth. Bishop Christopher Prowse, Auxiliary Bishop of the Western Region of Melbourne, spoke on the theme of The Evangelising Church, reflecting on ‘lifestyle evangelisation’.
Jan Heath, a Brisbane Catholic laywoman who leads groups of volunteers to Africa and runs Bible studies courses and the Welcoming Catholics Home program, addressed the Ladies Luncheon at the conference with a talk on Vision, Values and Vitality.
The Catholic School of Evangelisation helped run the conference, during which all sections of the Mill Park parish – families, youth, men, women and seniors were involved in specific activities that fostered meaningful fellowship.
This included up to 30 people visiting on average eight homes each in the area, reaching about 120 all up. “
As they returned there was a joy radiating from those who had gone out in the name of Jesus,” a conference attendee said. “It was not an easy task, but one which gives people an opportunity to listen, speak, witness and evangelise.”
Len Forster, treasurer of Catholic School of Evangelisation, a resource offering formation courses to dioceses and parishes, told The Record that the conference highlighted the the way a parish should act “in the strict definition of our faith” in evangelisation.
“Outreach to others, Christian and non-Christian, is the key,” he said.
“By living their faith, witnessing to others and inviting people to the church, it starts from actually being kind, polite and loving to people. It gives a witness so people then think if this person has that beautiful peace within them, ‘I‘m interested in what that is’.
“It’s a landmark event, and hopefully other parishes take it up.”
The Catholic School of Evangelisation gives parishes two years of training on the guidelines of effective evangelisation.
Kangaroos AFL star Daniel Wells, whose Catholic faith was ignited when he recently married a Catholic, spoke of his spiritual journey.
In a statement, Bishop Prowse said that the School of Evangelisation is “taking seriously the Catholic Church’s call for a New Evangelisation”.
“It is equipping people, especially young people, with some important tools for making Jesus known and loved in our confusing times.
I recommend this for your (parishes’) consideration,” the bishop said.