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Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Spirit of Renewal to come alive at Parish Renewal conference

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Parish renewal sydney - The Catholic Weekly
Parish Renewal Team member Tania Rimac. Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2022

A quiet but determined spirit of renewal is beginning to take root within the heart of the church, supported by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s Parish Renewal Team as it grapples with a post-COVID exodus of parishioners and a secular society that no longer prioritises worship.  

As part of the Parish Renewal Team, Tania Rimac has been supporting parishes to prioritise encounters with Christ, and a sense of belonging and spiritual growth.  

In August, the best of what is happening in Sydney parishes and beyond will be showcased at the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Parish Renewal Conference, titled “For Such a Time as This”. 

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“The talks and workshops which will be presented at the conference will share practical ways we can bring Christ to the world,” Rimac said.  

“We recognise that we are living in a time where some are hostile to faith, and this brings challenges, although it does not change the fact that each and every baptised person has been lovingly put here by God for such a time as this 

“My hope is that each person leaves the conference encouraged and equipped to take the next good step to call and form other disciples.” 

Parish renewal sydney - The Catholic Weekly
Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2022

Practical ideas will be shared in several workshops centred on the importance of personal encounter with Christ, a critical element in strengthening our parishes as centres of evangelisation.   

“Parishes are renewed when people are renewed! When hearts are set on fire, it ignites a contagious passion for sharing our faith with others,” Rimac said. 

By helping parishioners discern their charisms through initiatives like the Parish Renewal Team’s “Called and Gifted Discernment Program,” Rimac has seen a growing sense of purpose and fulfilment permeate parish life. 

This in turn has led to increased participation, healthy collaboration, and deepened spiritual lives. 

“Having people in our church understand their spiritual gifts has been a game-changer,” she said.  

“Every baptised person receives these gifts and when the faithful use them in the parish and beyond, we see the parish, the church, and the wider community come alive.” 

Rimac knows that parishes are faced with many challenges, particularly what she calls the “missing” individuals and families from the church.  

The parish, once a central part of daily life, often takes a “back seat” to competing priorities in contemporary life.  

In some ways this has helped those who remain to be more intentional about their faith; but it has also brought heartache that so many of the Christian family are missing,” she said.  

“Some parishes have responded with vigour and boldness to this reality and are seeing a new vibrancy that perhaps has been missing for decades.” 

Parish renewal sydney - The Catholic Weekly

Rimac sees that many in the pews feel ill-equipped to share their story of faith, a challenge when testimonies are such a powerful witness of God at work, transforming hearts.  

“We need to be more courageous and aware of opportunities to be able to share our experience of God’s grace and care with others,” she said. 

And not all parishes have a place where they can invite people from outside the parish into a conversation about Jesus. 

“The Mass is the centre of our faith, and the most precious gift Christ has given us,” she said.  

“However, as the Catechism reminds us, the Liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the church.  

“Faith is a journey that takes time, so our parishes need to be places where we accompany people over the long-term.” 

With support from Rimac and the Parish Renewal Team, a number of Sydney’s parishes are witnessing a resurgence in attendance and outreach.  

She’s excited to bring all the team has learned to the conference in August.  

I am most excited to gather with our clergy and lay faithful from Sydney and beyond. We will also welcome brothers and sisters from other dioceses around New South Wales and from as far afield as New Zealand!  

“I believe that the conference is ‘for such a time as this’ and will be a wonderful catalyst for many to be inspired for what is possible in our parishes, and for how the Lord is calling them to serve him at this time.  

“Everyone is welcome to come along, and I encourage everyone to invite a friend to join them!” 

To secure your spot at this year’s Parish Renewal Conference, please follow the link here.

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