Momentum’s growing ahead of Parish Renewal Conference

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Tamburai Enoch Mutawemba, at left, with his son Joshua, Fr Roberto Keryakos and parishioners from All Saints Liverpool. Photo supplied
Tamburai Enoch Mutawemba, at left, with his son Joshua, Fr Roberto Keryakos and parishioners from All Saints Liverpool. Photo supplied

For All Saints Liverpool parishioner and proud Catholic convert, Tamburai Enoch Mutawemba, next month’s Parish Renewal Conference, will mark the culmination of a three year journey which has seen him struggle through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge far more committed to his faith.

Tambarai will be amongst a group of Liverpool parishioners travelling to St Mary’s Cathedral precinct for the 19-20 August which will feature a keynote address online by leading U-S writer and theologian, Dr Scott Hahn and addresses by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and the Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s Parish Renewal Conference is an opportunity for clergy, parish leaders and parishioners to be renewed in the Church’s mission of evangelisation and equipped to strengthen their practical efforts through spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and human formation in keeping with the Archdiocesan mission plan, Go Make Disciples.

“I was brought up in the Salvation Army Church, but I thought about what I was missing in that tradition and that came down to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.”

All Saints Liverpool parishioner Tambarai Enoch Mutawemba had seen first-hand how his children had benefited from the Catholic values instilled in them at All Saints College Liverpool and in late 2019, he started becoming more curious about the Catholic faith.

“I was brought up in the Salvation Army Church, but I thought about what I was missing in that tradition and that came down to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist”, he explained to The Catholic Weekly.

“I ultimately became a Catholic because I decided that if I wanted to be a Christian, then I wanted to be part of the Church that Christ established over 2000 years ago”.

Tamburai enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program and was baptised in March 2020, just days ahead of a three-month lockdown when no public Masses were held in greater Sydney.

As COVID-19 restrictions were gradually eased and Tamburai joined other Sydney Catholics back at Mass, he was anxious to delve deeper into his faith and so enrolled in Alpha.
Over a series of interactive sessions in a parish, participants in Alpha are invited to explore life, faith and meaning in a relaxed, informal environment.

Tamburai said Alpha has helped him to appreciate his Catholic faith more and share those insights with his family.

“Tambarai said he is particularly looking forward to discussing Alpha with fellow Sydney Catholics.”

“I believe your faith is as strong as your knowledge of it and the more you invest in it, and the more you know about it, the more you will grow in it and be in a position to share that in turn with others”.

Tambarai said he is particularly looking forward to discussing Alpha with fellow Sydney Catholics and hearing a presentation at the conference by Alpha Parish Development Coordinator, Tania Rimac on the topic Five steps to Build an Invitational Culture.

Our Lady of Fatima Peakhurst parishioners Judith Kennedy, Frances Simons and Daniel Craven said they’ve seen first-hand how their parish has been embracing the evangelising mission of Go Make Disciples over the past year as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.

Fr Tony Alex with Our Lady of Fatima Peakhurst parishioners. Photo: supplied
Fr Tony Alex with Our Lady of Fatima Peakhurst parishioners. Photo: supplied

They are all engaged in parish programs aimed at inviting members of the community into closer fellowship with the parish, from a “One Meal” program where local schools and parishes team up to prepare hot meals for those struggling at this time, through to “Search”, a parish-based series exploring the Catholic faith in a relaxed setting.

Evangelisation Coordinator for the parish, Judith Kennedy said she is looking forward to sharing insights about these programs at the Parish Renewal Conference with other parishes and learning more about other programs they’re running as well.

For Frances Simon, a parishioner for 35 years at Peakhurst, one of the highlights of the conference will be a keynote address by Archbishop Julian Porteous, who she credits for leading her into the Catholic faith in the 1980s through his public evangelisation efforts at that time.

“It’s not easy to evangelise the unevangelised and as Catholics, it’s almost in our DNA that we find it difficult to invite a newcomer to Mass. This conference is so important to shift that mindset.”

“Then-Fr Porteous was running a wonderful public event “Jesus Christ on Belmore Oval” and had a passionate belief, which he still does, of going out and promoting Jesus’ message in the public domain and I’m very keen on hearing more about what he has learned about this over more recent times because it’s become increasingly clear that we can’t just rely on cradle Catholics anymore- we’re in an environment in which we have to go out and actively win people for the faith”, she said.

“It’s not easy to evangelise the unevangelised and as Catholics, it’s almost in our DNA that we find it difficult to invite a newcomer to Mass. But that’s why this conference is so important- to help shift that mindset, so we do indeed go out and make new disciples”.

A full program for the Parish Renewal Conference and online registrations are open here: https://www.gomakedisciples.org.au/prc22/

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