Mary-Alice Arthur is a storyteller. On a beautiful Sunday in February, Mary-Alice met the synod participants from the Porirua Pastoral Area, at their second meeting since Pentecost Synod last year. She asked them why, on such a magnificent day, they had chosen to attend rather than spend the day at the beach, or the river. They spoke of the need to gather, to re-tell the stories of that synod weekend, to be rekindled with the life and the Spirit and the energy for the pastoral planning ahead, and to hear what each had been doing.
‘You are like Sourdough yeast’, she said. ‘The yeast needs sustenance to grow. And when that happens, it can be divided and shared with others. Those others in turn need to give their share of life and sustenance, otherwise the yeast will die. Just think of the beautiful bread that is baked, as a result of feeding the yeast. And each person who uses the yeast, raises their loaf and bakes it, according to their recipes. Many different loaves, all with their own flavour, shape and taste, but raised with the same yeast. You are that synod yeast for your parishes. You need to be fed, so that you can feed others, so that each parish can bake its own wonderful loaf.’ Salt and Light and Sourdough yeast – recipe for growth and life and unity in diversity for our archdiocese!
During the two hours they spent together the four parishes, Porirua East, Plimmerton, Tawa, and Titahi Bay, shared the changes and the plans they had already made, – in essence speaking of the way the synod had changed them, their thinking, their pastoral structures and priorities.
Holy Family, Porirua, has made youth their first priority. They now have strong youth involvement in liturgy. Their youth have their own faith meetings, and youth representatives on the parish pastoral council are able to voice their concerns and hopes to the whole parish. ‘They are so much more involved.’
Catechists for the Cook Island community gathered together all members of the community with a focus on liturgy and the pastoral area.
Tawa Parish has had the synod document printed in black and white and is distributing it to everyone in the faith community. There will be six parish meetings throughout the year, one for each of the synod topics, and the parish has asked the synod presenters of each of the topics to deliver their presentations at the beginning of each of the meetings.
The idea then is that the parish will work through the synod document, topic by topic, and create their parish planning document from the discernment resulting from these meetings.
All parishes have looked at ways of sharing the synod story, and to integrate their parish stories identifying the common threads with the synod propositions. All parishes have identified World Youth Day – and Days in the Diocese as a pivotal meeting point for shared planning.
Fr Bill Warwick spoke of the four parish priests from the pastoral area now meeting informally but regularly to look at inter-parish collaboration and support – and there is a move to have the parish council chairs do the same.
‘Synod discussions have brought us together as a pastoral area. How can we build on this to get our pastoral area up and running?’ asked one delegate.
Whatever the shape of the diocese in the future, this pastoral area, through its priests, parish councils, and synod members, is excited about the possibilities of sharing plans and best practices, working on synod initiatives together where appropriate, and through it all, supporting and encouraging each other on the journey ahead.
‘Salt and Light’ and Sourdough yeast – a recipe for success!