Our Diocesan Council for the Ministry with Young People hosted ‘Pints with a Purpose’ in the evening. Our guest speaker was Gershon Nimbalker from Common Grace facilitating an open conversation on the upcoming referendum. After a meal (and a pint), those who’d gathered at the Sydney Junction Hotel listened to the history of the journey to the referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. No questions were off limits as we wrestled with the proposition before us and sought greater understanding to the issues at hand. It was a case of ‘Don’t know – find out!’ There was a shared desire to be informed and, although we may have different positions, we genuinely wanted to understand the arguments on both sides.
We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives. – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium 171)
On Tuesday morning, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Council hosted the local Newcastle Hindu community for morning tea. It was a morning of relationship building as we showed them around Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Chancery buildings before sharing a multicultural morning tea. There were many joy-filled exchanges as we found common ground together. There was a shared commitment that we need to be peacemakers in our own locality.
A love capable of transcending borders is the basis of what in every city and country can be called “social friendship”. Genuine social friendship within a society makes true universal openness possible. – Pope Francis (Fratelli Tutti 99)
On Thursday evening, the Catholic Student Society launched the Alpha Series at the University of Newcastle with the opening session, “Is there more to life than this?” Over twenty young people gathered to share a meal and watch a video before exploring questions of faith and life together in small group discussions. From all accounts, it was an engaging, life-giving experience. So much so, that the guests were keen to bring more friends next week!
The key challenge to us in Australia is to become a more missionary church. But we’ll never become a more missionary church unless there is that new spark, that new ignition, that a thing like Alpha can provide… - Archbishop Mark Coleridge
I sat with a newly formed ‘Mission and Evangelisation Team’ in one of our parishes as we grappled with the challenge of evangelisation and outreach. Where do we start? What are the first steps that a parish community can take in reaching out to the wider community and creating those spaces that we can invite people into so that they may encounter the life-transforming love of God? What does it mean to ‘journey with’ people who are searching?
The wonderful reality is that our local communities continue to hope and continue to dream of new ways to engage with their neighbourhoods. They are seeking new ways to build meaningful relationships through which others may encounter Jesus. Isn’t that, after all, what evangelisation means?
The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive… who boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium 24)
Spring weather has certainly arrived. To mark the occasion, St Brigid’s Primary School, Raymond Terrace, held their Spring Fair, which brought together the local faith community and other community groups over a variety of stalls, rides, games, and entertainment. Teachers and students alike worked the various activities. The cries of ‘Chocolate Wheel - $2 a ticket’ mixed with local musicians crooning Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World.’
I happened to be there to help with my son’s scout group stall which offered the chance to build and climb over Da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge – a structure formed of interlocking pieces held together by its own weight without the need for ropes. The bridge building itself could have been a metaphor for the day as what I encountered was an occasion of genuine community spirit, celebration, and working together in solidarity.
As I stop and try to listen to what the Spirit is saying through the week’s activities, I can’t help but feel the call to be in relationship, to walk beside others, and to share story together. These are the spaces where life and love are shared. This is where we break bread together and live in communion, learning from and learning with each other. These are the spaces where the love of God is tangibly experienced and shared. These are the encounters that make the journey.
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