FAITH MATTERS: Engaging the Graced World

In August 2023 Fr Richard Lennan offered a series of workshops and discussions for the people of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle around the theme of his most recent publication - “Tilling the Church: Theology for an Unfinished Project”. Those who attended these events were able to listen to Fr Richard, and ask questions on issues he raised, but like any important theological or philosophical topic, the more we consider the information we have received, the more research we need to undertake and the more questions we need answered.

In the Josephite spirit of seeing a need and doing something about it, the Pastoral Ministries Formation and Education team organised a monthly online discussion group to further the exploration of the themes of this book. Each meeting is devoted to unpacking a chapter of the book and then discussing and discerning our individual role in tilling the church.

On Wednesday 17 April, 5 community members gathered online at 7pm and unpacked chapter 4 of “Tilling the Church”, entitled "Engaging the Graced World”. We discussed the sub chapters, Interweaving of Grace, History and the Life of the Church, The Formative Role of History, Graced Mission in a Graced World, Jesus and the Reign of God, The Church and the Reign of God, Grace and the Church as an Open System, the Catholicity and Communion of the Church. Very in-depth, but as we worked together, we felt we came to understand the questions posed in this chapter and decided that we as a group didn’t have all the answers, but our role was to allow Grace into our lives and hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.

Our discussion then touched on the role of Grace in relationship, the building of relationship to strengthen church, the church community’s role in constructing the path we tread, the role of the Holy Spirit in discernment and the discernment process in the Synod on Synodality. We also mused on the relationship connection with our clergy, the burden of sin and wrongdoing as a barrier preventing true relationship with others, the role of judgemental thought in preventing Grace to work in our lives, the grounding nature of family and family connections as ways to continue building relationship. A wide-ranging dialogue!

As one participant commented “I value hearing the thoughts of fellow readers. Making connections is vital to our well-being.” Copies of the book “Tilling the Church: Theology for an Unfinished Project” by Fr. Richard Lennan are available for loan via the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Resource Centre Library. For assistance with joining the library or having library materials made accessible please contact Mary O’Connor on or 02 4083 3238. To register for the discussion group for Chapter 5 – The Future-Oriented Past, on Wednesday 15 May book here.

Follow on Facebook.