The swiftness with which our lives have changed over the last couple of months is extraordinary. So much has changed, and so many of the "ordinary" ways of operating are not current possible due to current restrictions and because we want to keep the most vulnerable in our community safe.
This is not a time to just wait for "things to go back to normal" in a few weeks or months. Rather, it can be a time to revisit our central mission as parishes – to make and form disciples – and to plan for how we will lead our people through this season so that we re-emerge after the shutdown as stronger and more mission-oriented communities.
Below are some resources to help parishes engage with and stay connected to their parishioners. This page will be regularly updated as new resources are developed.
LEADING A MISSIONAY PARISH - ONLINE SERIES
Missionary parishes transform lives and yield a growing army of disciples for whom worship and sacraments come to live and whose ministry and service flourishes. The Leading a Missionary Parish series, held over four weeks in July/August 2020, offered interactive sessions with global leaders in missionary parish renewal:
Watch the full series: Leading a Missionary Parish
ONLINE MINISTRY - ZOOM RESOURCES
Ministering to parishioners and the wider community can be difficult in our current time. However, while we may not be able to gather in person, there are still many creative ways parishes can minister online and maintain community through the use of various tools and programs.
The Zoom platform is one of the best programs to host online events such as meetings, Scripture studies or prayer groups. It is easier for ‘digital beginners’ to use than most other options, and can be used on a smart phone, iPad or computer (with web camera) quite easily.
The resources below provide an introduction to Zoom and some helpful tips on using the platform:
PARISH RENEWAL RESOURCES
Building a strong invitational culture is an essential element of a missionary parish. In hte past, all that was required to grow a parish was to build a church, open the doors and welcome those who came. Today, however, 'We cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings' (Evangelii Gaudium #15). People are no longer coming to our doors. There is a prior step required. We need to go beyond our doors, meet people where they are and then invite them in. Read more here
In an uncertain COVID-19 world our parishes are vital sources of guidance, encouragement and love. We can help by being present, by sharing information that is based in hope and by providing a constant community for people to connect with. This is the fourth in a series of articles responding to COVID-19 and the challenges and opportunities it presents to our parishes. Read more here
Missionary discipleship: What it means and why it matters
What would it feel like to be part of a parish that is filled with missionary disciples? Where almost every parishioner has a fire inside them to share their love of Jesus? Where people are sacrificial in their financial giving and where they serve the community, not to ‘help Father’ but to joyfully express their co-responsibility for the life and mission of the parish? Sound too good to be true? It is important to dare to dream. The first step to a renewed parish is to have a strong vision of what an actively engaged congregation of missionary disciples might look like. In order to do that, we first need to have a clear idea of what a missionary disciple is—and is not. Read more here
Before he ascended, Jesus gave us his vision for the church: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19–20). This ‘Great Commission’ was given to a group of people who had no influence in the business, religious or political circles of the time, and who were feeling demoralised and uncertain about their future. It was an inauspicious beginning. Read more here
You need a team to grow your dream: Structuring for impact
Leadership in twenty-first-century organisations, including parishes, is becoming more and more complex. Factors such as safeguarding, workplace law, declining church attendance, aging leadership and an aggressively secular culture make our traditional model of parish leadership—of the priest who lives alone, ministers alone and makes decisions alone—increasingly untenable and ineffective. This is definitely not how Jesus led. The reality is that the skill set of any one person, on its own, is inadequate. To achieve fruitful parishes, we need to work in teams. Read more here
Every baptised person is called to holiness – to have a close and personal relationship with Jesus. Likewise, every baptised person is called to mission – to bring others into a relationship with Jesus. A parish is most fruitful when both holiness and mission are seen as complementary priorities of the whole community of faith. Read more here
A healthy body is made up a number of different systems. When one of the systems fails to function correctly, it affects the health of the whole body. We become sick, and our entire body feels it. This is also true of parishes. Your parish leadership team might consider performing a 'health check' on your parish, identifying what is not working optimally so that you can plan to bring the 'body', your parish, to better health. Read more here
During the last couple of months, much of what we would consider ‘essential’ to a parish community has been stripped away. So much of how we habitually express our faith and our relationship with Jesus has changed. Yet these have been weeks of unprecedented innovation, vibrancy and a commitment to reaching out into our communities. Will we allow this temporary ‘new normal’ to teach us a new way forward for our parishes? Read more here
The kerygma enigma: creating an effective discipleship pathway in your parish
The kerygma is the core message of the love, death and resurrection of Jesus, and an invitation into an ongoing, personal relationship with him. To most parishes, the 'kerygma' is an enigma – an essential but missing piece in our parish's efforts to grow and form our people. Discover how the kerygma can form missionary disciples in your parish. Read more here
Leading parishes through this time of crisis
How can we lead positively and creatively through these times, when so many of the things we normally "do" in our local parishes have been suspended? Renewal always starts with the heart, and this pandemic has created an opportunity to step outside our normal routine and carefully listen to God. What seeds can we sow now, in order to ensure a powerful, mission-focused re-emergence? This resource provides some great ideas to help you get started. Read more here
An online presence is only ministry if it leads to encounter, conversion, sacrament reception and transformed lives in the real world. This resource provides some pointers to help you be more intentional about engaging – and evangelising – in the midst of crisis. Read more here
Mission-driven parish: is it even possible?
Each of our parishioners is called by God and has a special role to play – a unique mission to accomplish. The role of pastors is to form and equip parishioners so that they
are effective witnesses of God’s love in their workplaces, their local community and the world. Use the resource to explore models of parish which hinder your mission and to help provoke discussion in your parish teams. Read more here
Weekly liturgical prayers
If parishioners pray at home at the same time they would normally be together praying at Mass, there is a very real sense in which two or three are gathering in Christ’s name, in the unity of their prayer rather than of their physical person. [Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963) art. 7] Individual and family prayer based on the Liturgy of the Word at Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours and other sources provides members of parishes and families with an opportunity to honour Christ’s presence in the domestic Church as those present pray to God in thanksgiving for gifts received, and for the needs of the Church and the world. Prepared by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Download this week's prayer resource
Daily Mass – Streamed Live
It has been difficult to be unable to come together to celebrate Mass in our parishes during this time. With this in mind, many parishes have been live streaming Mass each Sunday or daily for their parishioners. Daily Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral is being celebrated daily and live-streamed on the Archdiocese of Melbourne's YouTube Channel. Mass is celebrated at 1pm Monday - Friday, 8am on Saturdays and 11am on Sundays. In addition, the 11am Sunday Mass is also televised live on Community Channel C31 (digital channel 44) each week. Watch here.
Exploring the Word offers reflections on each Sunday gospel reading, questions for reflection and suggested prayers. Previously known as the 'Take Home Sheet' and 'The Catechumenal Journey', this resource is an aid to catechists and parish teams preparing catechumens and candidates for the sacraments of Christian initiation. This PDF contains reflections for the following Sundays: Trinity Sunday to 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A).
Prayers in a time of pandemic
This resource provides timely and relevant prayers during this time of pandemic – including a prayer for healthcare workers, the special prayer to St Joseph our Archdiocese is praying during this time and an Act of Spiritual Communion. See more here
Digital devotion: Online resources
There are many excellent apps, resources and podcasts out that can help support and deepen our prayer life during this time. This article lists some useful tools to help Melbourne Catholics maintain their prayer life and grow in their relationship with Jesus. Read here
At this time of uncertainty and possible social isolation, Catholics in Melbourne and beyond are invited to lead the way in loving and caring for each other and for those vulnerable people in our communities (while social distancing). Fortunately, our digital age provides a raft of ways to reach out and love our neighbour during the threat of Covid-19. This article provides some useful suggestions. Read here
This resource from SBS provides up-to-date information on Covid-19 in a variety of languages. View here