A new Advent resource aims at bringing people together in parishes to usher in a season of renewed hope and joy after a difficult year.
Rejoice! Receiving and Sharing the Gift of the Good News is the Advent companion produced by the Parish Renewal Team at the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation and designed for individual or group prayer, either in person or online.
It includes Gospel readings for Sundays and Christmas Day and spiritual reflections by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Professor Tracey Rowland, Sr Susanna Edmunds OP, Fr Anthony Robbie, and Archdiocesan Parish Renewal Manager Elizabeth Arblaster, as well as other resources for meditation.
The resource will be available for download on the Go Make Disciples website (gomakedisciples.org.au) and training on how to facilitate an Advent group, online or in-person, is also available.
Parish Evangelisation Officer Helen Wagner said that this Advent, which begins on 28 November, would be a joyful time of spiritual preparation, especially coming after months of pandemic lockdowns which closed churches and separated communities for an extended period of time.
“It’s been an especially challenging year for everyone, with sadness and grief for many of us,” she said.
“Now comes the time to reconnect with one another and look forward to the deep joy that the birth of Jesus brings us, and to be heralds of that joy to others.”
The free training offered for those interested in leading an Advent group in their parish is an opportunity to begin to rebuild community, Helen added.
She said feedback on the training for the Lenten Companion earlier this year was extremely positive, and included some participants who had never run a parish small group before and who had found it simple to follow, helpful and practical.
Administrator of St Ambrose Parish in Concord West Father Chaminda Wanigasena had high praise for the Lenten Companion that was also produced by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation for the first time this year, and said that he looked forward to incorporating the Advent Companion into the parish’s Christmas preparations.
He said that he had parishioners and in some cases, whole families, who value quality resources and opportunities to support each other to grow in knowledge about their faith.
“We are doing our level best to make this a very memorable Christmas in our parish,” Fr Chaminda said.
“I tell my people that if you have gone through even just one of these programs, joined the parish novena, or any of the things we are offering, even if you only manage to attend one week, you will be so much happier at Christmas time having done that preparation.”
Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang said that as the task of rebuilding and regathering in community commences “this new Advent offering invites Sydney Catholics and others beyond to place Jesus at the heart of our prayer with others”.
“It has been a difficult and isolating year for so many, the corollary of which has been a deep spiritual hunger and yearning among people of faith and others besides for hope in the future, reasons for hope that can be trusted and relied upon,” he said.
“The source of our enduring joy and courage as disciples, even in the most challenging of times of our lives, is the knowledge that we encounter this hope and future in Jesus, born not only among us but indeed within us by faith.
“We hope these Advent reflections give rise to prayer in our homes, parishes, schools and communities, provide an opportunity for the rebuilding of local community, and spiritual refreshment for all those who thirst”.
A training session in running an Advent group in your parish or other setting will be held online next Tuesday, 23 November.
Register for the training session or any of the events planned by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation at gomakedisciples.org.au
For inquiries about Rejoice! Receiving and Sharing the Gift of the Good News or other resources contact Helen Wagner by email at [email protected] or 9307 8499.