We are all missionary: take-home message from Summit
With a thriving parish community base and more than 1000 active parishioners, it might seem out of the ordinary that Our Lady of the Rosary Parish would gather together as a parish to discuss their strategic direction and mission for the next 5 years.
But for the 170-or-so parishioners who gathered for one day of workshops, discussion and fellowship at the parish’s first-ever “Summit” last Saturday 5 November at Unity College Caloundra West, dreaming about what the future of their parish could look like, was a renewal like no other.
Events such as last week’s Parish Summit are golden opportunities to ensure diverse voices who often don’t get the opportunity, are heard around the table,” said Fr Joshua Whitehead, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Administrator, who organised the event in collaboration with Evangelisation Brisbane.
Since becoming Administrator of the parish in August this year, Fr Josh has been on a mission himself to re-fire Catholic imagination and invigorate a renaissance of life and ministry in the parish. As one of the largest parishes across the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Parish has more than 1000 parishioners from across eight different worshipping communities, including Caloundra, Maleny, Beerwah, Little Mountain, Currimundi, Kawana, Landsborough and Unity College at Caloundra West.
“Our mission is very explicit,” Fr Josh told those gathered at the Summit in his opening address. “We are inspired by the ministry of Jesus to go out and make disciples by providing encounter opportunities that lead to transformation.”
Fr Josh said that organising the Parish Summit was a deliberate effort to allow parishioners’ voices to be heard, for the Church to listen and to provide discussion and workshops around discovering what God is calling each and every one of us to do in our parish.
Some parishioner comments when asked to explore the topic of what their own dream for the parish was, included:
“To be a parish where everyone knows each other by name.”
“My hope and dream is for everyone to be a leader, to open their hearts and be their best selves.”
“Everything we aspire to do should be done in love, generosity and in the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I would hope that everyone in their worshipping communities would identify at least one person they’ve never seen before and invite them to coffee. That’s how I was drawn to the Church.”
“We are all leaders and we can all be driven by a missionary impulse by being unafraid to ask, kind to each other and trusting that every person can bring something to the table.”
During the day, seven key themes emerged on what parishioners could work together to move towards in realising the strategic vision and plan of the parish. They included belonging, spiritual nourishment, Sacramental preparation, communication, welcome and inclusiveness.
Following the event, a parishioner from Kawana shared that the Summit was “unexpected”, but said she felt renewed and invigorated.
“We are grateful to Fr Josh for inviting us to participate, and we are now more acutely aware of our role as missionaries as a face to young people and the broader Catholic mission and Community,” she added.
“After a year of pandemic church closures, it’s been more than three years since our community has met, but after yesterday, we are more determined than ever and we have organised our first meeting at Kawana next week to discuss how we can go forth and be leaders in our Catholic ministries.”