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Ready to embrace positive change


Paul Ridings’ plans for some ‘down time’ in retirement are looking less likely following his decision to accept the role of chair of the newly formed Holy Family parish.

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Paul said he was encouraged to put his hand up for the role of chair and although he wasn’t looking for any new responsibilities, the more he considered it the “more excited I got about being very involved in meeting the challenges ahead”.

The merging of Aberfoyle Park and Blackwood parishes under the name of Holy Family parish was the subject of a decree signed by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan last month.

To ensure balanced representation on the new Parish Pastoral Council, there are 12 elected members as well as the parish priest Fr Paul Mwaura, Deacon Tee Ping, the pastoral associate and the APRIM from the School of the Nativity Aberfoyle Park.

“It is a large group but we have a lot of work to do over the next few years at least,” Paul said.

A parishioner at Aberfoyle Park for 43 years, the father of three and grandfather of four brings a wealth of experience in business management to the role.

Before retiring in September Paul spent 20 years in a range of roles at National Pharmacies including in regional management, marketing and store development.

He has a Master of Business Administration and has been an active member of the parish, including as a previous PPC member.

Paul was an adult leader of Antioch youth group for 15 years, including 10 as State coordinator and he has been a member of the South Australian menAlive facilitating team since 2009.

He is “absolutely positive” about the future of the merged parish.

“We have found our community abounds with people of goodwill, of faith and a desire to build an exciting new parish,” he said.

“We have talented, dedicated people on our PPC and PFCs (not yet fully merged) and are led by a wonderful positive priest and deacon.”

Paul said parishioners had been engaged in the process of becoming one parish through surveys and combined forum meetings.

One of the first changes was to Mass times due to there only being one priest now. A Saturday Mass was cancelled and while there are still three Sunday Masses each of the time slots needed to be rescheduled to make it practical.

“We were conscious that with three churches St Paul of the Cross, Blackwood, Our Lady of the Way, Glenalta, and The Nativity, Aberfoyle Park, we had three communities,” he said.

“It was important to be sensitive to the uniqueness of each and at the same time welcoming everyone into the family.

“A noticeable turning point was a reflection day in February. The focus was on who we wanted to be as a parish, what we held dear, what was our mission. We also started the search for a new parish name that day. We used a very consultative and discerning approach over a month or so to arrive at Holy Family Catholic parish.”

Paul said the challenge for the PPC was balancing a diverse range of perspectives, needs and levels of involvement across the new parish.

A priority was maintaining community spirit in each of the three churches and at the same time being a part of the larger Holy Family community.

“We need to develop structures, processes and culture to ensure we can deliver an effective, vibrant and outward looking parish,” he said.

“Now the merger decree is formal, the process of consolidating the financial aspects of the two former parishes can commence.”

Paul acknowledged the value of critical mass – “together we are more than the sum of our parts” – and said members of the former Blackwood parish were “very much enjoying now having a school in the parish”.

“The PPC has adopted a strength-based approach to our way of thinking,” Paul said.

“We recognise our community is resilient and contains all kinds of talents and assets as we focus on making the most of what we have.

“We are now moving out of a period dominated by coming to grips with the initial change and associated practical issues as well as formalities. From here the focus will be on building a parish development plan for the near and mid-term future.”

In a letter to the community, Archbishop O’Regan said overall there had been “positive support around the process and the announcement of the new name”.

The parish would continue to review appropriate Mass times with discussions held at the local level last month.



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