Parishes fostering an encounter with Jesus Christ is the mission to navigate the doldrums of the 21st Century, Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Director Daniel Ang told more than 500 participants from 24 countries for the Asia-Pacific Alpha Conference this week.
In a talk titled ‘Making Disciples in a Change of Age’, Mr Ang addressed participants via Zoom. “Our parishes are to serve as both the doorway and the destination, for Christ is truly present there,” he said.
We see today the seismic shift in global politics
“He seeks out every human heart through every one of our parishes where the Word is proclaimed and His Eucharist is celebrated,” he told participants as he emphasised the pivotal role of faith in Christ to weather the radical changes of the new millennium.
“We see today the seismic shift in global politics, the movements of people around the world – including a refugee crisis fueled by war and conflict- and the impact of technology on the ways in which people connect with one another,” he said.
The consequences of this shift for cultural Catholicism indicate a rapid decline.
“We know that participation and engagement in so many of our parishes and dioceses is declining and that in some of our countries religious freedom to practice our Christian faith is under continual and increasing pressure,” said Mr Ang.
He praised the Alpha programme as a method aimed at parish renewal centred on Christ as a way of responding to modern life. “Alpha is one of those standout resources that can be a genuine catalyst for parish renewal,” said Mr Ang.
The foundation of the Church in Jesus Christ and His transformative ministry guarantee however, that despite the rapid changes and shifts of modernity, a regenerative Divine energy lies at the core of the Church, he added.
encounter the Lord
“It is only when people encounter the Lord, surrender and make the decision to follow that our parishes come alive as Christ calls them to be, as centres of spiritual life and bold missionary outreach,” he said. Mr Ang highlighted the current pandemic as an example of how changes have forced innovative practices and stronger faith communities.
“COVID-19 has forced us as parishes to take a new road which is in fact an ancient road, the road of St Paul and the apostles. We have been forced to ‘go and tell’ rather than merely plead, ‘come and see’.
“If we want to build a new Catholic culture in our parishes, that project very much has to do with helping individuals to discover a living and personal faith in Him in the midst of the Church.”
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