When weather conditions threatened to wash away the very first Ministry and Cultural Expo at All Saints Liverpool Parish, the parish priest, Fr Paul Monkerud, and his team had to adapt quickly.
With no time to think, Fr Paul decided that the whole event was to be moved from the parish grounds to the parish hall. In minutes, decisive action and quick thinking saved the event.
But to those who know Fr Paul, it was no surprise.
His vision has always been a parish that can rise above and navigate through any disruption or challenge and be a light for the community they serve, as well as the wider church.
“My vision is that our parish would no longer just be about people who come to church,” he said.
“We’re trying to enable our people who are active to become more aware of their responsibility as disciples and give them opportunities to grow in the faith and share this faith with others.”
On Sunday 5 November, as a sign of that vision, Fr Paul inaugurated the first All Saints Ministry and Cultural Expo, featuring over 20 ministries and cultural stalls.
The expo is the parish’s first step towards Fr Paul’s goal: to not only “make disciples” but to “create leaders” within his parish.
“What we’re trying to do is to help our people realise and develop their relationship with Jesus, and then to serve others in his name and spirit,” says Fr Paul.
Tania Rimac, from the Parish Renewal Team in the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation attended the event to show her support.
“The ministry expo creates a space to showcase the amazing things happening in the parish,” Tania said.
“It allows people to connect with those involved in the ministries and gives them an opportunity to see what they might like to be involved in.
“The expo also is a wonderful place where people can connect with one another and where ministries can see how they might be able to work with and support each other in the various ministries.”
Gina Fattal helped Fr Paul organise the expo, and said it’s vital for people to meet each other so they can know what’s happening in the church.
“There are fantastic ministries and cultural groups doing work, but no one knows each other,” she said.
“Here, they meet and once they start talking, they can start connecting and have input in the church, take responsibility and make it their own.”
The Sydney Centre for Evangelisation works with parishes to foster this type of stewardship and engagement initiated by Gina and Fr Paul. For Tania, it’s heartening to witness.
“All Saints Parish is really alive!” she said.
“They have an understanding of their call to be faithful disciples who are called to live their faith in a way that deepens their personal relationship with Christ, and they provide opportunities where they invite others to do the same—the expo was a great example of this.”
Fr Paul has worked with the SCE’s Parish Renewal Team to help raise lay leaders in the parish.
“We’ve been blessed to initiate and run Alpha in the parish, with the support of Tania, helping us be more missionary, having a place to invite people into a conversation about Jesus,” Fr Paul said.
“We also have parishioners who have completed the Arete Missionary Leadership Course and also have some enrolled for next year.
“This gives them the foundation of mission and a whole year of formation, growing in knowledge to be able to lead our people.
“There’s so much enthusiasm and diversity, and that’s a good foundation on which to build.”