Arete partnership offers exciting opportunities for Sydney parishes

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All Saints’ Liverpool Parish Priest Fr Paul Monkerud with the parish’s Arete Centre students Joanne Thurtell and Gina Fattal. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

An exciting new subsidy program offered by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation (SCE) in partnership with the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership has seen 16 lay leaders from parishes across the city begin a year of growing knowledge, experience and confidence in sharing the Gospel.

The program pilot helps the students to meet the cost of the Foundations of Missionary Leadership Course to support their roles within their parishes, with some parishes also offering to cover the remainder of the course fees.

Graduates of the course, now in its third year, describe it as life-changing in enriching their understanding and experience of their Catholic faith and providing the skills and tools to share it with others.

New student Gina Fattal said she agreed to do the course as she had become more actively involved in her parish of All Saint’s Liverpool.

Elizabeth Arblaster, Manager of the Parish Renewal Team for the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“I wanted a deeper understanding and knowledge of the Catholic faith, how it relates to the culture today, in Australia, in my parish and in my community,” she said.

“I hope to learn how to be equipped to bring alive the Word of God to a world that is spiritually thirsting and am very appreciative to Fr Paul [Monkerud] for extending me this opportunity to further my faith journey.”

Fr Paul said he was looking forward to sharing the Arete experience with Gina and the parish’s sacramental and ministries coordinator Joanna Thurtell, “especially the opportunity it offers for them to grow as leaders in All Saints Parish”.

“The opportunity is timely, given the plan we have launched to animate Go Make Disciples in All Saints. I hope Joanne and Gina will be the first of many All Saints parishioners to develop as persons, disciples and leaders through the Arete experience.”

Other students studying with the help of SCE subsidies are from St Luke’s Parish in Revesby, Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Caringbah, Bondi Catholic Parishes (St Anne’s and St Patrick’s), St Mary and St Joseph’s Parish in Maroubra, St Bridget’s Parish in Marrickville, St Canices’s Parish in Elizabeth Bay,  the Chinese Catholic Community in Ashfield, Our Lady of Fatima in Peakhurst, St Christopher’s Parish in Panania, Mary Immaculate Parish in Waverley, and St Raphael’s Parish in South Hurstville.

Parish leaders discuss ideas they might like to implement from the archdiocesan mission plan Go Make Disciples. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“We’ve been blessed to see the number of students grow each year and part of that is thanks to our partnership with the Archdiocese of Sydney,” said Arete Centre director Fr Chris Ryan MGL.

“Ultimately, our common purpose is to see parishes across the archdiocese flourish and be renewed. Most parishes understand that they need to form and equip their lay leaders for mission in order to experience renewal, but they may not know where to start, and that’s where The Arete Centre can help.”

The students gathered at the Polding Centre’s archdiocesan offices last week with Bishop Richard Umbers, Sydney’s episcopal vicar for evangelisation, director of the SCE Daniel Ang and parish renewal manager Elizabeth Arblaster and her team.

Ms Arblaster congratulated the priests for their willingness to identify and invest in their parish lay leaders through their support of the Arete program. She encouraged the participants to use the Go Make Disciples mission plan to help them to focus their efforts around the five foundations for spiritual renewal of evangelisation, leadership, community, formation and worship.

Bishop Umbers addresses the students who received subsidies from the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation to attend the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It’s a tremendous gift to have the Arete Centre within our archdiocese and it makes sense for us to work in partnership with them to help parishes to grow in their mission,” she told The Catholic Weekly.

Bishop Umbers told the group that while many people in parishes are on board with the idea of sharing their faith, they didn’t know how best to go about it. He said he hoped their year-long journey would help them to develop bonds of trust with people who do not know God or the Church and “gradually help to open horizons for the people who are travelling with us”.

“We have something to offer the world that the world desperately needs,” he said. Parish leadership undertaken by the clergy in collaboration with lay leaders is most effective when there is a deep appreciation of the duties and gifts of each, he added.

Priests of the Archdiocese of Sydney who are interested in sending a parishioner to attend the Arete Centre of Missionary Leadership in 2023 can express interest with Elizabeth Arblaster, Manager, Parish Renewal Team at [email protected]

Find out more about the program on the Arete Centre website: www.arete.org.au

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Course equips lay leaders for mission