The Church there is located beautifully between the mountains and hills and the parishioners of Murrurundi are proud of their church and small parish. It was a good meeting with people in attendance from Murrurundi, Scone, Muswellbrook, Merriwa and Denman. They are continuing to follow-up on the recommendations from last year’s Regional Pastoral Gathering. We talked of a regional bulletin, regional faith formation opportunities, youth initiatives, and regional gatherings. They are enthusiastic for spiritual renewal and the rebuilding of their faith communities, along with a strong regional identity. I like being with these wonderful people as they imagine the possibilities and create new paths. I was also at Muswellbrook yesterday, bringing to them the last unit of twelve units of work in the Program – Formation for Ministry. Once again, those who attended were appreciative of the information and formation given to them by the many presenters. There is a sense of the ordained and non-ordained hearing the call and of discipleship.
On Friday night, Allen and I hosted Bishop Bill, John Donnelly and the young people who are part of the Pastoral Placement Program. I hope you read something about this program on Page 11 of this month’s Aurora. It was a lovely evening spent listening to those who are part of the program, sharing their early experiences of their first pastoral placement, their work in parishes and the formation opportunities that we are encouraging them to be part of. One such experience is CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). They will continue with this formation throughout the year. I certainly enjoyed watching them put their recent learning of active, reflective listening into practice. We laughed a lot during this meal and I sensed their growth as individuals and as a group in this short period of time. Some had spent time at Penola House, the Mission to Seafarers and the Chancery, while others had experienced CatholicCare, the Office of Life and Faith and the Catholic Schools Office. Their experiences were varied but the common theme was around how good the program is, and the goodness and generosity of the people with whom, or to whom, they are ministering. One young participant shared that she is keen to explore more about chaplaincy because this is where she thinks she may be hearing her call.
During the week I had also met with some people from Caritas who are exploring with us the possibility of developing a Young Adult Caritas Program in which young people will be invited to immerse themselves into our Catholic Social Teaching and the principles of social justice. The people from Caritas are keen to connect with the participants of our Pastoral Placement Program in developing such a justice program. It is certainly our hope that these young people will experience the local, national and universal church as part of the Pastoral Placement Program.
Friday night gave all of us a wonderful experience of being a small Christian Community with enthusiastic Christians who are growing their faith and eager to share it with others. I hope you get to meet some of these young people who are keen to be disciples. In this post-Easter season it was a privilege to sit with them and Bishop Bill and share their enthusiasm and joy.
As we heard in this week's Gospel Reading from Luke (24:35-48), after Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you’:
And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
Sharing of food and companionship was important to Jesus. It was also important for him to break open the scriptures, so the disciple’s eyes were opened. This is what we did on Friday night in our home, and I invite you to consider to seek these opportunities with your family, friends, young people and community.
I came across this reading during the week when I read one of the Bible Society daily scripture messages that comes to me via my email:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
What a fitting way to bring this message to an end. Please keep the Joy of the Gospel close to your heart and more especially in your actions.
During the week, I will be attending the National Pastoral Planners Network (NPPN) Conference in Adelaide. Father Timothy Radcliffe OP will be the key-note presenter. I hope to share some of my insights with you next week, when I return. It should be good for me to meet with others who are ministering in this field from the various dioceses around Australia and New Zealand.
Holding you and all Australians and New Zealanders in prayer as we commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. So many lost lives in the violence of war in pursuit of peace.