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Sydney’s “Go Make Disciples” mission plan making waves in Asia

Darren Ally
Darren Ally
Darren Ally is the Manager for Communications and News Media at the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.
Christianity in Asia - The Catholic weekly.
Archbishop Julian Leow with Director of the Sydney Centre for evangelisation Daniel Ang. Photos: Supplied.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP’s vision for the future of Sydney parishes, ‘Go Make Disciples’, is making a mark throughout the booming Asian region, as nearly 1300 church leaders and delegates from across Asia gathered last week to hear of best practices in evangelisation.

Last week, the Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation (SCE), Daniel Ang, was invited by Alpha Asia Pacific (Catholic Context) to share the practical expressions of the Go Make Disciples vision, as brought to life by the teams of the SCE and also by ‘lighthouse’ parishes and other groups in the wider life of the Church in Sydney, with Catholic leaders from all over Asia, at twin conferences last week in Kuala Lumpur.

“It is stunning that the growth of Christianity in Asia continues to outpace population growth. While it was a privilege to share some of our learnings in Sydney, the innovation and faith of Catholics and other Christians in India, China, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia were the real inspiration.” said Daniel.

As they look to the future of evangelisation in the Asian region, Daniel was invited to speak at the “Transforming Parishes” conference, attended by over 270 Catholics in Kuala Lumpur and then took part in a conference attended by over 1,000 delegates from various churches and denominations at the annual Alpha Regional Gathering at Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang (HTBB).

Earlier this year, the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity, reported Asia as having one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, with more than 415 million Christians now living in Asia. Christianity in the region has grown at a rate of 2.11 percent since 2020 and is steadily forming a larger share of the global church.

“The focus of new vocations, energetic new movements, significant numbers of converts, including families and adults, and even short form media and digital innovation has shifted to Asia and the global south in recent decades,” said Daniel.

“But the challenges of proclaiming the Gospel in Asia remain, including aggressive forms of national religion and state persecution, the allure of secularism, acute poverty and the sheer breadth and diversity of language and culture. However rather than stamping out the Church these conditions have purified its proclamation to the essential – the mystery of Jesus himself – fuelled creativity and apostolic courage, as well as practical forms of evangelisation that feed the poor of spirit and circumstance,” he said.

This year’s twin conferences included Mass at the beautiful St Francis of Assisi parish in Cheras; a keynote from Bishop “Ambo” David, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference Philippines, on the story of the Spirit across Asia; and sessions on ecclesial unity and mobilising young people for leadership.

Conference attendees were given a taste of Asia’s evangelical future, as the new multi-media “Creative Hub” built by Alpha in collaboration with production partner Signal Flare was also opened to visitors and for conference sessions.

“It promises to be a vital resource for video production and the translation and contextualisation of digital resources, not only for the Church in Asia, but globally,” said Daniel.

Daniel joined Archbishop Simon Poh of Kuching, in west Malaysia, to co-present a session at “Transforming Parishes” dedicated for Catholic clergy.

Present for the session were the host Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Julian Leow, Bishop Pablo David (Diocese of Kalookan), Bishop Gerardo Alminaza (Diocese of San Carlos, Philippines), Bishop Marvyn Maceda (Diocese of San Jose de Antique, Philippines), Bishop Dominic Tien (Diocese of Hung Hoa, Vietnam), and Bishop Francis Xavier Vira (Diocese of Chiang Mai, Thailand), alongside 40 priests from the wider region.

Melinda Dwight, national Director for Alpha Australia, shared the positive response to the “Sydney” session at the conference and the eagerness to learn from one another.

“There was a huge positive response and interest in what Sydney is doing. They were clamouring for Daniel’s documents, which is rare for a group of clergy, but Daniel showed how Sydney is leading the way, giving a plan that is relevant, applicable and is being outworked,” said Melinda.

“The leaning of the Catholic clergy was quite amazing and the outcome of that was huge hope, that here were not just plans but how these plans could be put into action and bring about change,” said Melinda.

In the final days of the week, Daniel met with the evangelisation team of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur as it seeks to examine its approach and pastoral initiatives.

“The commitment to live incarnationally and serve sacrificially, to reach the unchurched from Karachi to Shanghai, challenges us to do the same I think in our own backyard. To be a missionary is to recognise the Gospel as a treasure and the church as the missionary movement of Jesus Christ – Asia is awakening to these inseparable gifts, and our own church and parishes in Australia will no doubt continue to be shaped and enriched by this rising phenomenon”.

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