More than 200 Catholic school principals, APRIMS, parish priests, Parish Pastoral Council chairs, Catholic Education SA and Archdiocesan leaders, together with parishioners from around the State gathered at the Vietnamese Catholic Community in Pooraka on November 17 for an information session on ‘Being Church Together’.
There have been several iterations of the document since the first working draft was penned in 2018 following visitations to parishes and schools as part of the Archdiocesan renewal program. The current offering was produced by the Pastoral Services Team following consultation with Catholic Education SA leaders and also included input from the Port Pirie diocese.
The 2023 version reflects the developments in the local, national and global Church – particularly synodality – and draws on real-life experiences of parishes and schools across South Australia. It includes a section on ‘activating principles for good practice’ in which communities are encouraged to reflect on their current realities, imagine a vision for the future, and discern strategies for action.
In launching the document, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan spoke of his experience attending the Synod in Rome in October and the unique offering of Catholic education in Australia. He said it was important there was a strong relationship between parishes and school communities.
“I’m delighted that we have such a wonderful document. This is an indication of where we are going, this is not only the roadmap but the vehicle by which we can travel – but we travel together on the way,” he said.
“I hope this is just the beginning…it’s not just launching a document, but this becomes the mode of being together as the Church.”
Chair of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Monica Conway, who has had an extensive career in Catholic schools and at CESA, said Being Church Together reflected the “hopes and dreams” for the Church of Australia that were collected as submissions through the listening and dialogue phase of the Plenary Councils, through Diocesan Assemblies, regional and parish assemblies, and the Synod.
Community spirit at Christmas and beyond
“There is a strong desire to be a Church that is more welcoming, more inclusive and mission focused,” she said.
“We all know that the parish-school relationship is developed and nourished through the leadership relationships… that are characterised by collaboration and co-responsibility; through a focus on mission, dialogue, radical hospitality and deep listening.
“They are the relationships that have the capacity to enrich our communities in significant ways.
“I look forward to seeing parish-school relationships flourish under its guidance but more importantly, under your care.”
Other guest speakers at the launch included Fr Kieran Gill SJ from the Sevenhill parish and Peter Shearer, principal of St Joseph Primary School at Clare, who spoke about ways the parish and school had formed a strong partnership over the years.
Being Church Together is available online at adelaide.catholic.org.au/our-works-and-community/pastoral-services/publications