Report from Rural Ministry Hui 2022
As a follow up from 2021 rural ministry meetings, the Diocesan Pastoral Council, held meetings in the same six areas in 2022 as promised.
One of the things that was different at our 2022 meetings, was using the synodal process, of listening, reflecting, and discerning, in alignment with Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality 2021-2023.
*It needs to be noted that the Riverton meeting was different. Father Brendan Ward asked to speak at the start of the meeting for 10 minutes. However, that discussion took all the meeting time, so the synodal discernment process could not take place. The meeting however dealt with and resolved several local issues in another format.
The visits were to:
· Mossburn : 2pm on Saturday 1st October 2022, where 5 people attended with Bishop Michael, Tui Pasco and Dioleta Segun
· Kurow: on Sunday 2nd October 2022, after the 12 noon Mass, where 8 adults and 3 children attended with Amy Armstrong and Stephanie Swann
· Gore: 2pm on Saturday 15th October 2022, where 5 people attended with Bishop Michael, Amy Armstrong, Tui Pasco, and Stephanie Swann
· Cromwell: 2pm on Sunday 16th October 2022, where 27 people attended with Amy Armstrong, Stephanie Swann, and Leona Garchow.
· Riverton: 1.30pm on Saturday 29th October 2022, where 22 people attended with Tui Pasco and Dioleta Segun.
· Waikouaiti on Sunday 13th November after the 12noon mass, where 12 people attended with Fraser McLeod and Stephanie Swann
Before meeting, the areas were sent the Diocesan synthesis document and the notes from their area from the 2021 meeting. The meetings each took one and a half hours, using the synodal discernment process, based on spiritual conversation. This is a simple, prayerful process with facilitated groups.
The two questions reflected on were –
1) What stood out for you in our Diocesan synthesis?
2) What steps is the Spirit inviting us to take, in our local area, in order to grow in our Gospel mission?
Pope Francis has invited the entire church to reflect on its life and mission: How do we journey together as Catholics when it comes to Communion, Participation and Mission?
Using the synodal listening process proved successful, with everyone having an opportunity to speak, but more importantly listening to other peoples’ points of view. Needs of the parish communities were able to be expressed. In the end, many expressed a desire to take up the challenge, but they felt overwhelmed at what to do, where to go next.
At our Roadshow meetings in 2021 the main themes were Pastoral/Liturgy; Youth; and Finance/buildings. In the 2022 meetings, some similar themes arose but were expanded a bit. These can be put into five categories, listed below, with examples of comments and thoughts from the meetings.
Lay Leadership Formation:
· Would like leadership training offered, so lay people can be more active
· Collaborative Ministry and training of Laity needed
· Provide formation resources/materials such as Wings (formally Walk By Faith)
· Actively encourage people rather than waiting for volunteers
· Empowerment of people needed
· Participation is huge- the more you participate the more you feel part of community no matter your age
· Need to encourage everyone to be part of the ministries
· Develop co-responsibility- training lay leaders
· Acknowledge the role os women as leaders in the Church
Prayer Opportunities and Formation
· Suggest a retreat every year in the Parish, spiritual activities to help people become more involved, not just come to Mass
· Teaching of the Word – a real hunger for being uplifted
· Rosary before Mass followed by morning tea
· Liturgy does not resonate with some, especially the young people. It needs to feed those who attend
· Keep praying together
· Prayer groups/home groups are great, to help communities to form deepr relationships with each other and God
· Teach us to pray in other ways (meditation, retreats, contemplation)
· The need for more lively music
· The importance of children’s liturgy
· Disconnect between church and school
· Secondary students have been involved in liturgies/Masses. This starts enthusiastically, but doesn’t last. Not sustainable, how do we keep the energy up?
· In some parishes there is a strong practical outreach
· Be more welcoming as a group, and do more to get to know each other better
· Embrace new families in “whanau groups”
· Rural Ministry visits by the Bishop and Diocesan Leaders is appreciated and gives encouragement to the locals who feel attended to
· Reaching out to groups who feel unwelcome; eg Women, LGBTQI, separated, divorced, singles
· Church being beyond the Parish, going out to the people, especially those in most need. “Be shepherds with the smell of the sheep” as Pope Francis reminds us
· Issues can be addressed by clearer processes
· Encourage young voices and migrants on Parish councils
· Encourage each parish to have a parish council and help to form where there are none.
· Purpose of Parish Councils needs to be made clear to the parish community, and actions made clear
· Put a clipboard at the back of the church with the Parish Council minutes
· Send out a bi-annual report from Parish Council to parishioners
· Use wider communication throughout the Diocese, and networking. Diocesan Website and Facebook
Where to from here?
Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend these meetings held in October and November 2022, and provided honest reflections and discussions for the Diocesan Pastoral Council to consider, particularly in light of Pope Francis’s request for a focus on Communion, Participation, and Mission.
Some questions to be reflected on -
What is the best way we as a Diocesan Pastoral Council can continue to support local leadership in the rural areas?
· Do we continue with visits?
· Do we visit different areas of the Diocese?
· Do we include city Parishes/Pastoral Areas in visits?
· Do we select certain people from around the Diocese to train as lay leaders, so they can go back to their Parishes/Pastoral Areas and provide formation /training?
· Is there another way?
Suggestions/Recommendations for consideration:
· Provide resources for parishioners for local formation, in the hope that people will feel empowered to participate in Parish Ministry.
· Priests to be encouraged to use the lay leaders in their area, when they are not available, as a first point of contact before they reach out for other priests to supply when away.
· Collaborative Ministry - Parishioners and Priests to work together in a synodal way for their parish to thrive.
· Youth – work with youth maybe have a youth choir? (Local or Diocesan) and get them involved in other ministries and leadership
· Encourage every Parish to have a Parish Pastoral Council or Leadership Team, (not just a Finance Committee), to enhance communication, leadership, and other pastoral ministries. There could also be a contact within the Diocesan Pastoral Council for these Parish Pastoral Council chairpersons for any issues etc.
· Encourage all Parishes to continue to interact in a synodal way, in all their meetings, prayer groups, sessions etc.
· Include children in the Mass for a sense of belonging and participation
Michael Dooley Bishop of Dunedin Diocese
Tui Pasco Past Chairperson Diocesan Pastoral Council
Amy Armstrong Pastoral Ministry Co-Ordinator/ Chairperson Diocesan Pastoral Council
Stephanie Swann Past Member Diocesan Pastoral Council
Dioleta Segun Member Diocesan Pastoral Council
Fraser MacLeod Member Diocesan Pastoral Council
15th February 2023