Auckland diocese Pastoral Services Group Leader Sr Sian Owen, RSJ, expressed hope that the energy that were in three recent Mission Map Momentum meetings will translate into positive action in the different communities and parishes.
The Pastoral Services Group held these meetings in the parishes of St Francis Xavier, Whangarei (August 27), Our Lady of Assumption, Onehunga (September 24) and St Joseph’s, Takapuna (October 15).
“The feedback has been very positive. People appreciated sharing with others, realising their dreams and frustrations were shared. They liked listening to things that are working, and considering how they might introduce that to their own community,” Sr Sian said.
The participants in each meeting were broken into groups at different points during the day, and were asked to describe a “good parish” and a “bad parish”. Then, they were asked to condense into one idea what their ideal parish looked like.
A video of David Wells was shown where he discussed what a missionary disciple was.
Later, the participants went on a “speed-date” with four different departments of the diocese: Catholic schools, the Justice and Peace Commission, the Pastoral team and the Youth and Young Adults team.
Sr Sian said that Mission Map Momentum meetings were held in response to the people’s need to reconnect.
“Mission Map was launched late November, 2019, and we had this wee thing called pandemic,” she said.
When society opened once again, Sr Sian said that people ”were looking for connection, what next and how do we go forward”.
“Often people have open ideas about what they might like to do in a parish in terms of moving forward together, but [are] perhaps not quite sure what resources and information there is,” she said.
Sr Sian said that people raised similar issues, but these were nuanced to their own parishes.
For example, she said, the issue of having a sacred space that is welcoming and open will vary according to where they are.
“For some churches, where they are physically placed creates a different emphasis on how they might be opened at all hours, for instance. And yet, that’s what people are looking for. That someone passing by can just stop and go in for quiet prayer or just sit in silence,” she said.
“And yet in some areas, the challenge is literally who is going to open up the church and close it up. For others, it’s well, because of where it is, who might come in [and] what damage they’ll do to the church.”
On a positive note, people have mentioned how the multicultural nature of the Church has enlivened the liturgies in the parishes.
“[The meetings] also picked up, which we never would have thought of three years ago, about the richness and the gift of being able to have online liturgies and of being able to reach out to those that are less able to come to Mass for various reasons through media,” she said.
Sr Sian hoped that, after the meetings, people will appreciate that Catholics may live in different places and have different sized churches, but all share hope for being people of God who are welcoming and brave in going out and being missionary disciples.