20 March, 2012
St Benedict’s parish in Narrabundah in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn is one of 20 parishes identified by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference Pastoral Research Office (PRO) as having something a little bit “special” in its latest research project “Building Stronger Parishes”.
The study of approximately twenty parishes was initiated in 2008 to explore how Catholic Parish communities in various contexts use their strengths and available resources to respond to a variety of challenges.
Project coordinator Trudy Dantis said that the project was a wonderful opportunity to see the many ways in which different parishes engage with their people.
“I have had the opportunity of visiting several parishes in the study, and there are just so many people involved in a variety of activities making their parishes alive and vibrant. The study demonstrates that sometimes, a little creativity in a parish can make a huge difference to the participation of the Catholics living in the area”, she said.
In the Preliminary Report available on the Building Stronger Parishes project website, the standout points of excellence for Narrabundah included the welcoming atmosphere, the strong sense of community and strong social outreach initiatives.
Narrabundah parish is administered by the Canberra-based Missionaries of God’s Love (MGLs) and the current Parish Priest is Fr Steve Fletcher.
According to the researchers of the report, there is a definite sense of community which has much to do with the MGLs, a society of priests and sisters founded 30 years ago in Canberra by Archdiocesan priest Fr Ken Barker.
“The outreach activity of the parish is to be envied. The community of MGL brothers and sisters also play a significant role in energising the parish and providing witness to authentic Christian life.”
The parish has a gift of attracting large numbers of young people, particularly to its morning Mass and Sunday evening Charismatic Mass. It also has numerous activities including cell groups, youth ministry, and evangelising prayer groups.
Dr Robert Dixon, Director of the Pastoral Research Office said that the Building Stronger Parishes
project gave him much hope for the future of the Church in Australia.
“In this study, we have been able to see the many good things happening in parishes. Parishes attract people for a variety of reasons and this is a cause for celebration.”
“Things like the ability to communicate a clear vision for the parish, their ability to get people to work together, and a readiness to encourage parishioners to put their gifts and skills to use for the good of the parish are extremely important and a sharing of resources and ideas such as these will make a huge difference to many parishes”, he said.
The Building Stronger Parishes Preliminary Report is available online at www.buildingstrongerparishes.catholic.org.au.
For media enquiries or to organise an interview with the authors or participants in the project, please contact the Pastoral Research Office via Beth Doherty on 0407 081 256 or on firstname.lastname@example.org