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Charlie sold on richness of the faith


She may be only 21 but Blackwood parish pastoral coordinator Charlie Rodda says she is a “bit of a traditionalist” when it comes to her Catholic faith.

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The new mum, who together with husband Patrick welcomed baby Eden Grace into the world on January 18, believes that while there is a shortage of young people in the Church today, they will only be drawn into the fold by the “richness” of faith, not the glitz or glamour of events and activities.

“I think that kids can have as many fun things organised for them, but if they’re not seeing the value of the faith itself then it’s not going to bring them in,” she said.

“Sometimes I think we try too hard to glamorise what’s already right in front of us.

“If people truly believe on a Sunday morning they are receiving Jesus into their heart and they truly have that faith, and they were taught what the faith actually means and the different elements of the liturgy and traditions that we follow… then I think it would speak for itself and we wouldn’t have the need to glamorise it.

“It’s important to keep the integrity of the faith as it’s there for a reason.”

Attending the Diocesan Assembly in September as a representative of the Blackwood parish, Charlie shared her thoughts on bringing young people into the Church. She related her experience of growing up in a large Catholic family where faith was central to everything in her life and that of her eight younger siblings.

“My mum and dad are amazing in how they uphold the Catholic faith and values and with all of us kids it’s so important,” she explained.

“It’s not just about going to Mass on Sunday but it’s part of our everyday life. It’s very natural to have family prayer time every night and because the children are home schooled Mum has started doing morning prayer as well.

“A lot of our daily living is about being aware of the liturgical year… it’s quite cool how all of us kids have a strong relationship with the saints.”

Charlie said in her teenage years it wasn’t always easy being a committed young Catholic and she faced a “huge challenge” trying to find people who were like-minded and of a similar age.

In fact, she met Patrick at the local Baptist church he attended as she was trying to “find more Christian friends” and decided to join in their youth group activities.

“Meeting Patrick was also a pivotal part of my own faith,” she said.

“Seeing a different denomination in action I started wanting to learn what it was about the Catholic faith that was special and why we did certain things.

“I began to discover the Catholic traditions that sing to your heart. The beauty of the Mass and the faith… there is just so much richness.”

Patrick also became curious about Catholicism and converted in August 2020.

“It was just incredible to watch his journey of faith and how he fell in love with the theology and way the Catholic faith is.”

Baby Eden Grace who arrived on January 18.

Since taking on the part-time pastoral coordinator role three years ago, Charlie has explored different ways to engage with people of all ages.

She has established the Young Disciples program for children aged 6-11. It has proved very popular with most of the attendees coming from other parishes.

“It’s been really wonderful. We’ve had up to 17 children here at times and we can definitely see they are having faith reinforced in their family life,” she said.

“We usually have a game, do craft at the end and in the middle we focus on mature faith formation that is still appropriate for their age. We look at the saints, feast days, different parts of the Bible that kids don’t know about…and encourage them to ask plenty of questions and have discussions.”

There is also the Embers program for 12 to 16 year olds, but this is a much smaller group. Young people are always welcome to join either group.

A member of the Blackwood Parish Council, Charlie is involved in running the sacrament program and coordinates a group of parishioners who visit aged care and nursing homes. She is a driving force on promoting hospitality in the parish, ensuring everyone feels welcome.

“We are a very active parish and I’ve always been amazed how involved most of our parishioners are in volunteering here,” she said.

With her days now occupied with looking after baby Eden, Charlie is taking a short break from her role but plans to be back in time for Easter celebrations.


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