TUESDAY WITH TERESA: HCA Assembly Invitation

Over the coming week, I ask that you consider registering for the Founding Assembly of the Hunter Community Alliance. It will be a gathering like no other.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, we listened to the familiar reading from Mark (9:2-10) about the transfiguration and the voice from the cloud:

This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.

As I indicated in last week’s message, this week I would write about our involvement in the Hunter Community Alliance (HCA) and our need to be present, as a Catholic Community, at the Founding Assembly on Wednesday 10 April. This will give us, and the wider community, an opportunity to “Listen to him” and to be transformed (transfigured).

I trust you are aware of the invitation to contribute to the spiritual conversations based on the Synod on Synodality. I hope your parishes, schools, agencies and groups are taking the opportunity to explore the Synthesis Report – A Synodal Church in Mission (Synthesis Report ), and then to follow the Reflection Guide (Reflection Guide ).

I thought before talking in more detail about the HCA, I would share with you a couple of relevant paragraphs from the Synthesis Report, inviting us to be a synodal church on mission:

Since synodality is ordered to mission, Christian communities are to enter into solidarity with those of other religions, convictions and cultures, thus avoiding, on the one hand, the risk of self-referentiality and self-preservation, and on the other hand the risk of loss of identity. The logic of dialogue, expressed in mutual learning and journeying together must come to characterize evangelical proclamation, service to those experiencing poverty, care for our common home, and theological research.
                  (paragraph (e) from Gathered and Sent by the Trinity)


Christians have a duty to commit themselves to active participation in building up the common good and defending the dignity of life, drawing inspiration from the Church's social doctrine and working together in various ways, through engagement in civil society organizations, trade unions, popular movements, grassroots associations, in the field of politics, and so forth. The Church is deeply grateful for them. The community has a duty to support those who work in these fields in a genuine spirit of charity and service. Their action is part of the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel and bring about the coming of the Kingdom of God.            
                   (paragraph (g) from People in Poverty, Protagonists of the Church’s Journey)

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is one of the founding members of the HCA (HCA). Alliances are part of a network of similar Broad Based Community Organisations across the globe, who bring together civil society groups to organise for the common good. These groups care about what is happening in their local communities.

The Hunter Community Alliance brings together diverse communities, environmental groups, unions, and religious organisations to advance the common good and achieve a fair, just and sustainable future for the region. It does this by providing opportunities for people to have a say in decisions that affect them and their families. It is a non-partisan organisation and takes no government funding. Its membership is connected to over 250,000 people in the Hunter region.

The Founding Assembly is the next milestone of the HCA's four-year journey of listening, training, preparing, and organising.

I think being involved in this process of community organising is what synodality is asking of us. We are not only journeying within the Catholic Church, but we are being invited to journey alongside of others who seek to make a difference in the lives of our neighbours.

How amazing it would be if every parish from our diocese was represented at the Founding Assembly. The broader community would witness our commitment to the common good, the dignity of the human person, solidarity, the preferential option for the poor, stewardship of creation and subsidiarity. These are core to our Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the principles that underlie the HCA.

The Founding Assembly will take place April 10th, 6:30pm-8:30pm at the University of Newcastle Great Hall, Callaghan. Register here.

We are planning to have a gathering beforehand at Our Lady of Victories Parish, Shortland to workshop on our CST principles followed by a Mass of diocesan solidarity and prayer for the HCA, before walking in pilgrimage to the Great Hall at the University of Newcastle. We hope that 1000 people will gather for this major community event and demonstrate recognition that the people of the Hunter care for their common home and the people we call our neighbours. It is a time of organising for action after deep listening within our local community.

I ask that you please consider registering and inviting others to register and to come along with you. As one of the co-chairs for this event, I would be proud to see you there as we make a public commitment to stand in solidarity with other community groups for the common good of the Hunter.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the communication that went out during the past week, from me, Bishop Michael Kennedy, and Sean Scanlon, informing the community of my finishing in the role as Director Pastoral Ministries on 18 April. As you can imagine this has been a big decision for me but one that feels right at this time. I have been blessed to serve the Diocese for almost 20 years and I look forward to continue serving in ministry in different ways over the coming years. I am grateful to have received lots of wonderful messages since this announcement went out.

Over the coming week, I ask that you consider registering for the Founding Assembly of the Hunter Community Alliance. It will be a gathering like no other.

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Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.