HOW ARE WE GOING THIRTY YEARS ON
Using Jesus’ words from Matthew as a starting point, then Jesus said to them,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the very end of the age’.
This ‘great commission’ is given anew to every generation. As Pope Francis affirms, “In our day Jesus’ commands to ‘go out and make disciples’ echoes in the changing scenarios and every new challengers to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary going forth!”. Like the first disciples some of us are worshippers, some doubters, some a bit of both. Like them we need to draw close to Jesus if our doubts are to be dispelled. Like them, changed by the encounter and empowered by the spirit, we can do great things.
Jesus parting words were not just to ‘go and make disciples’ but also baptize and teach. By baptism, and all the sacraments and worship that follows. And by hearing God’s Word, and all the Christian teaching and action that follow, we become witnesses to God’s saving love – poured out in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
My hope is for a Parish which the Gospel is preached with joy, wisdom of our tradition and with fidelity, the sacraments celebrated with dignity and welcome. In the little time I have been here I’ve witnessed many wonderful strengths the parish has to offer. In a parish the size of Holy Spirit where there is such diversity, piety and zeal of its people. Despite some difficulties, our Parish and schools have nurtured the faith of hundreds of people across the thirty years and continue to do so. There are many causes for hope.
But these past few years have also been challenging times not only for Holy Spirit Gungahlin, but also the Church of Australia. The unmasking of historical child sexual abuse in the church occasioned disillusionment, anger and hurt for many. The COVID 19 pandemic, church closures and restrictions on worship have also been keenly felt. But Passion and Resurrection are the ordinary rhythm of Christian life, so I am confident that our parish here in Gungahlin will come through present trials, humbled, purified and renewed, ready to bear new fruit!
As the only Parish in Gungahlin, we seek to live out the mission of Jesus Christ in a time of unprecedented change. Gungahlin’s population continues to grow while the way people live, work and worship has changed.
Not as many people engage with the parish or transmit faith and practice to their children as once did. Our culture is less supportive and many now identify as ‘no religion’. Some traditional methods of outreach no longer work; others can be rediscovered and reinvigorated. Some of our structures no longer support mission as well as they once did.
Especially in times of great change, we rightly cling to those things that are perennial: one faith, one Lord, one Baptism (Ephesian4:5). But we need new passion, expression and methods of evangelization and community-building in Holy Spirit. Me, your Parish Priest and Fr Eden our assistant together with all the faithful of this parish are called to deep spiritual renewal as disciples to better connect with each other, and to reaching out better to others.
With great faith in the future of this parish I invite you to read prayer and reflect on this parish plan. We need your faith and discernment, your courage and gifts as the faithful of Holy Spirit, Gungahlin seeks to live the great Commission in this twenty first century. Like those first Christians emerging from the dark times of Holy Week, we hear the Easter Jesus saying to us: go make disciples.