ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY REPORT 2013

????????ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY
Saturday 7 September, 2013

Over 30 Parishioners gathered in good spirit, commencing with prayer.
Michael McConville again facilitated with humour and encouragement.
Several apologies were noted.

Time was spent reviewing the proposals and outcomes of 2012 and the Parish Target “the people of OLMC Parish have become a Christian community in which we value one another and use our gifts for the good of all”

There were presentations from the Parish Primary School Principals. Noelene and Paul spoke of a program in collaboration with Salesian College that will enable the successful transition to Year 7, benefiting the students both socially and academically. The Religious Education Leaders, Rosalba and Colin with Richard outlined the RE program (based on the RCIA model), the Sacramental celebrations and the “Parenting in Faith” programs offered to parents.
Many of our Parish groups presented to the Assembly, outlining their work, plans and suggested proposals for the next year.
They included: Maintenance Team and Parish Centre Management, JG Community Garden, Knights of the Southern Cross, Justice and Historical Group. The Ecumenical group, Legion of Mary, RCIA, Baptismal Preparation Team and Emmaus Prayer Group were also represented. As was Bingo, Parish Web Page, Evergreens, RSJ associates, Children’s Liturgy and some of our Parish Neighbourhoods. There was a report on the Neighbourhood structure and Fr Kevin presented proposals on behalf of the Pastoral Team.
We heard of the incredible work of Saint Vincent de Paul, assisting their Sunbury clients with many hours of support and $8000 each month. The Conference is always in need of support with appeals and voluntary work.
The Youth Group are working to encourage parents and youth alike to become involved in liturgy and social gatherings.
Proposals, that were presented, to be considered by the Pastoral Coordinating Team include the financial support of an Overseas Project, Monthly Meeting Plan and a Parish Expo, maintenance issues of Parish property and involvement of Baptismal families. Other proposals suggested more Parish social gatherings eg picnic and morning teas hosted by Parish groups. Music in Sunday liturgies was discussed, as was the purchase of Liturgical banners for St Anne’s church.
A small group of parishioners gather monthly at Goonawarra Nursing Home for a sing-a-long with residents. Any musicians are warmly invited to join the fun.

All groups who were represented would warmly welcome any queries and/or new members.

Those who attended agreed that our Parish is blessed with many energetic and committed people who give freely of the time and talents for the growth of our Catholic community.

NOTE: A MORE COMPREHENSIVE REPORT IS AVAILABLE ON THE “PARISH REPORTS PAGE HERE.
Also a comment may be left at the bottom of this page if you would like to leave any feedback.

STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

the-unjust-stewardCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). Without even knowing what mammon may be, we get the stewardship message — what is important to us? God, or all of the other things in our lives which may distract us from living God-centered lives.

Scholars cannot universally agree on the origins of the word “mammon.” In Greek the word was mammonas, which means “wealth or treasure.” In Latin the word was mammon, which translated  “riches and avarice.” However, it is in Christ’s native language, Aramaic, where we may find the stewardship truth.  The Aramaic word was mamon. That word had a dual meaning to the Lord in His own tongue —yes, it meant “riches,” but it also meant “chaos, darkness.”

That may have been the point Jesus was trying to make in the Parable of the Unjust Steward. It is not just devotion to things that provide us with a major roadblock to living lives of stewardship. Those same “riches” may place us in a world of darkness, not the light of Christ which results from living as good stewards. Jesus is constantly advising us to be very careful about attaching our hearts to “things.” Truly we cannot serve both God and mammon.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Prodigal_SonCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“Rejoice with me for I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15: 6) Each of us may be that “lost sheep.” Each of us is in need of God’s forgiveness and the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All of the readings for this 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time deal with lost souls, lost people. The first reading from Exodus is the story of how the Israelites became spiritually lost by worshiping the Golden Calf while Moses was on the mountain top. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul outlines how he was lost until the Lord reached out to him. The Gospel includes three parables from Jesus, all of which talk about being lost — the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

In every case, however, it is a merciful and loving God who forgives and reaches out to whoever is lost. Stewardship teaches us to trust in God. It reminds us on a daily basis to give thanks to God for the love and blessings we receive. Yes, in a sense we are all lost, but no matter what, God loves us, God seeks us, and God welcomes us warmly when we repent and return. To paraphrase the Parable of the Prodigal Son, “We are lost, but through stewardship we can be found.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

ST-LUKE-LOVECATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

No matter how we read or interpret today’s readings, the bottom line is that being a follower of Jesus, pursuing lives of stewardship, is not going to be easy. The message of the Gospel in particular presents Jesus speaking about being His disciple as a difficult path indeed.

As stewards we should not and cannot be put off by these challenges. What the Lord is saying are things we already know, including that there may be conflicts in our own families; we will have our own Crosses to bear; and we must be prepared to love the Lord more than we care for the things in this world.

Jesus is reminding us that we must be equipped for these kinds of obstacles. However, did we not already know that? In the Gospel He speaks of being ready to be His disciple. To be a steward, to be ready, means that we must have a close relationship with the Lord. It means that we understand the importance and the power of prayer. And most of all it means that we know that Jesus is with us every step of the way.  As our Holy Father Pope Francis said recently at the World Youth Day celebration: “Put on Christ in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

catholic-humilityCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

One of the most difficult traits to master is humility. Yet, it is an important part of stewardship. Perhaps the most humbling aspect of stewardship is the admission that we are not in charge. There are so many occurrences along our life journey that are simply beyond our control.

Jesus emphasizes being humble in today’s Gospel: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” There are many characteristics attributed to that of a good steward. After prayer, humility is the trait most commonly mentioned in an examination of the stewardship way of life.

Even today’s first reading from Sirach begins with the statement, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility.” In our American society, with our emphasis on individuality and independence, humility is a great challenge. Most of us acknowledge that Christ was a humble man. He tried over and over to point out to us the importance of having a proper perspective of who we are and how we need to relate to our God and to our fellow people, our sisters and brothers.  The noted author and theologian C. S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” That is good advice for a true steward as well.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Jesus-Jerusalem

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

The final words of the final Gospel for the month of August are: “For behold some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Jesus is saying to us, “You may be at the front of the line, but it does not matter.” Theologians say that one concept that is embedded in this message is a perspective of the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews as the chosen people would seem to be the first, but the Lord is saying that there will be Gentiles who enter Heaven before them.

Jesus also has two strong stewardship messages in this Gospel. Throughout His ministry and all the way through His teachings He stresses the need for conversion. He calls for change in us, and that is exactly what is involved in living a stewardship way of life. We must experience a conversion of mind and heart to be a true disciple of Jesus, a genuine steward.

The second stewardship point is directly related to the appreciation of “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”  At the heart of what Jesus asks us to do is service to others. The Lord also often reinforces the notion that putting the needs of others before our own is important to be a follower of Him. Stewardship involves knowledge of what it means to serve others, and a willingness to do so.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Christ-carrying-theCrossCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

All of today’s readings, and the Gospel from Luke in particular, deal with conflict. In Luke 12:49-53, Jesus speaks of division. He is reminding us that living lives of stewardship, truly following Him as a disciple, is not easy.

If we are genuinely going to place Christ at the center of our lives, there will be tension, for with the Lord there can be no compromise. We live in a society that seems to thrive upon controversy and contradiction. Unfortunately, these “divisions” can occur within our families, our communities, with those whom we love.

Have you ever heard a public figure speak at length and come away unsure of what exactly was said? It is as if they do not want to be clear on things because truth brings division. Jesus is perfectly clear, however. It is as if He is saying, “If you really want to follow Me, you have to be prepared for the consequences.” He does not back down from the fact that He must face what He calls “baptism with fire” — that is, His death on the Cross for us.

Stewardship is not comfortable. It means that we follow our faith and live responsibly even at times when others may look at us with scorn and anger. Christ is with us, however, and He walks with us throughout the “race.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Christ_the_TeacherCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Lk 12: 34). Those words of Jesus in today’s Gospel have become among the most quoted passages ever in relationship to stewardship. Sometimes when we quote Holy Scripture, critics will claim that the statement is out of context.

In this case that simply is not true. Jesus makes reference to worldly goods just prior to saying this, but the key to what He is teaching lies in the general meaning He is trying to get across –– namely, we are measured and judged by the Lord based upon what is important to us.

Christ could not have made it more clear throughout His teachings that things of this world can stand in the way of living lives of holiness, of following stewardship as a way of life. Good stewards have things in the right precedence; they recognize that in order to love and serve God and our neighbor, love and service have to be more imperative to us than anything else. Jesus goes on in this Gospel to tell the Parable of the Faithful Servant. He is asking us, “Are you faithful servants?” Do our actions reflect that our hearts are with Him? “Are you prepared to meet Me face to face?” Are we?

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Jesus-and-parable-Rich-Young-ManCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“One’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk 12:15).

With those words, Jesus reaffirmed what He tries to teach throughout His ministry. You may be aware that more than half of His parables dealt directly with this concept of “possessions and ownership.”

Stewardship, of course, makes it clear that what we may have, possess, or own is merely a gift for which we are the caretaker, the steward. Yet, this remains one of the main stumbling blocks to a stewardship way of life.

We live in a society that places great emphasis on possessions — the car we drive, the house we live in, the latest technological advancements. This attitude has been prevalent to humankind for thousands of years. The way the Lord addressed it in His time is still quite applicable today. He cautions us that the measure of our life is not found there, however. The parable of the rich man with the good harvest makes it all absolutely clear. The Lord closes the parable by saying, “Thus will it be for all who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich in what matters to God” (Lk 12:21). Stewardship challenges us to get our priorities correct and to understand that what may seem important in this life is not important in the next.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

christ-door-iconCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“Ask and you shall receive…seek and you shall find…knock and the door will be opened.” Today’s Gospel includes all of these admonitions, and more. The late Archbishop Thomas Murphy, who chaired the Bishops’ committee on stewardship, was apt to say, “Just because you are living out stewardship may not mean the gates of Heaven will fly open for you.”

Thus, from a stewardship viewpoint, it is worth considering what door was Jesus talking about? He was speaking of Himself. He is our door to eternity; He is the gate; He is the gatekeeper. In fact, the Lord refers to Himself as the gatekeeper in John 10:7: “Amen, Amen, I say to you that I am the door of the sheep.”

The point is that stewardship is a way of life to which we are called. However, we are also called to pray — to have a consistent and planned relationship to God. It is not enough to share and to give and to love; we must go beyond that so that, as Paul indicates in today’s second reading, we are one with Christ: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

st-martha-and-st-maryCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

Many of us have struggled with the story of Martha and Mary related in today’s Gospel from Luke. Our sympathies tend to be with Martha, who seems to be doing all the work, while Mary is enjoying listening to Jesus, but not doing much to prepare food or to serve the Lord and those who are with Him.

Jesus, however, has an important stewardship point for each of us. In those times when we feel stressed, when we feel like no one appreciates us, when we feel like we are the only ones who truly understand what is important, we need to hear Jesus saying, “Martha, Martha. You are anxious and worried about many things.”

It is very easy to get caught up in the daily struggles of everything we do — working, parenting, serving, ministering, caring, and even loving. And, of course, all of those things are important. But what, according to Jesus, should be the most important thing (“There is need of only one thing.”)?

That one necessary thing is at the heart of stewardship — our relationship to the Lord and our trust in Him. That necessary thing fulfills itself in our prayer life and in the other ways we set aside time for God to be a part of our lives. That time is precious, and is the true “food for the soul” about which Jesus often talks.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

good-samaritan-iconCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

Today’s Gospel, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, presents the epitome of what it means to be a good steward. Jesus confirms to those around him, and especially “the scholar of the law,” that the scholar is correct to conclude that he must do two things to “inherit eternal life”: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Of course, the scholar responds, “Who is my neighbor?” to which Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, one of the most powerful stewardship stories found in Holy Scripture. Most of us are familiar with how the Samaritan stopped to help the man who had been robbed and beaten, when others walked by and tried to ignore him. Almost everyone in the story, just as most of us in this world, is in a hurry. We, too, have things to do and to accomplish. Stewardship is not always convenient.

Nevertheless, like the Good Samaritan, there are times when we must upset our schedule, our own plan, to give and share and reach out to others. Jesus’ point is that stewardship is not easy, but if we truly aspire to be a good neighbor, it is what we are called to do.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

new-harvestCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

“The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” With these words, Jesus sent His disciples to the far ends of the earth to evangelize and bring the faith to the many people they encountered. Blessed John Paul II delivered a homily directed to that exact statement in November 2004.

As is the case with sermons given by the Pope, that message was meant for all of us. John Paul II made it clear that all of us were the laborers. He also explained that the world was still filled with souls who had not heard nor understood the message. Perhaps centuries had passed, but we still needed to be “heralds and witnesses” to the faith, as there is a “sense of need for Christ” rising up from the people of the world.

In Matthew’s relating of this incident, Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers.”  The point is clear to us as stewards of the Church: first, we must recognize our role as evangelizers, as laborers in the harvest, by living out our faith as examples of Christian witness; second, we need to pray, consistently and constantly, for as John Paul II went on to say in that homily, “Prayer moves the heart of God.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

crucifixion_icon

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

The readings for this Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time deal with the dichotomy of emotions found in Christ’s Crucifixion. It was a tragedy and an extremely sad occurrence; at the same time, as it meant salvation for us, it was a time of great joy.

The first reading from Zechariah recounts this time of great mourning, yet also as a time when the people will be given a “fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.” In the Gospel, the Lord points to a similar contradiction when He says, “…whoever wishes to save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Our lives are filled with sadness and joy. Those who practice stewardship as a way of life focus on the joys. If we concentrate on our blessings, the crosses we must bear become less burdensome and more tolerable. The noted author and lecturer Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind, had a wonderful stewardship outlook on life. She once said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” That is our challenge as stewards — to concentrate on the good in life because that is what brings us great happiness.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Jesus_Discourses_with_His_DisciplesCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

We need some historical perspective to truly understand the first reading from 1 Kings, but once we grasp that viewpoint, there is a solid stewardship message. Elijah, like Moses and the Apostles, has been called by God to serve Him. Elijah and his follower Elisha served in the northern kingdom of Israel. Although there are some subtle pieces of information in today’s reading, the base of it is Elijah with the intercession of God calling Elisha to follow him. The cloak or  “mantle” thrown over Elisha by Elijah is symbolic of him being called to be a prophet. God calls us in a similar way. Stewardship calls for us to assume the mantle of God, to follow Him, and to serve him. Like Elisha we have a vocation — the most important aspect of it is to be a disciple and a steward.

In Luke’s Gospel, we join Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem, His passage that leads Him to His death and resurrection. The stewardship key to this Gospel nonetheless is Jesus’ call to three different persons to “follow me.” In the first reading, Elisha receives the call from Elijah, but responds basically “Yes, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my mother and father.” The three people included in the Gospel respond to Jesus the same way, “Yes, I will follow you, but first let me…” As mentioned, just as we are called to some vocation, the basis of our calling is to follow Jesus — to be a disciple of the Lord. As harsh as it may seem, there are no excuses for not being a disciple. That is the point of the Gospel. Our call to discipleship, to stewardship, is not timeless; it is urgent and it is immediate. It is something we must do right now.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

Pharisee-Simon-Sinful-WomanCATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of stewardship to accept involves how we follow our faith — how we live out our Catholic beliefs. One of our sacraments is the sacrament of reconciliation. Today’s readings deal with that sacrament.

In the first reading from Samuel, King David is chastised by the prophet Nathan for his sinfulness. David, recognizing and acknowledging his sin, says, “I have sinned against the LORD.” He is forgiven. That same theme is followed in the Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of the sinful woman who enters the house of Simon the Pharisee to honor Jesus. Like David she recognizes her sinfulness, and Jesus says to her, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The good steward understands the importance of spiritual healing.  The Sacrament of Penance is the Sacrament of this spiritual healing. It involves contrition, confession to a priest, absolution by the priest, and penance.

Some theologians have referred to reconciliation as “the more difficult Baptism.”  None other than St. Ambrose, one of the original four doctors of the Church, drew a comparison between Baptism and Reconciliation: “There are water and tears; the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.” We, too, need to strive to hear “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

saintpaul

Stewardship is referred to most often as “a way of life.” We also often hear that a stewardship way of life requires a personal conversion of mind and heart.

In today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Paul refers again to his own dramatic conversion. Yet, there is something deeper in his words. Paul wrote the letter because divisions had developed in the Church he, Paul, had established in Galatia. At the base of the disagreement was whether or not Gentiles had to conform to Jewish law to become and be Christians. Paul makes it clear that they do not.

This has a much more profound meaning for the Galatian community, and for us today as well. According to Paul, a person of faith is transformed (as he personally was) and that change means that the convert — the steward if you will — has a different motivation than she or he had previously.

The good steward does what is right because that is the way to live — a reflection of Jesus’ own life — not because of obligation or duty. The steward is not conforming to a set of laws, but to live the way Jesus called us to live. That was Paul’s message to the Galatians, and that same message applies to us.

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

holytrinity

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

It would seem appropriate on this Most Holy Trinity Sunday that we focus on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in light of a stewardship way of life. Stewardship has been defined as “the grateful and responsible use of God’s gifts in the light of God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ. Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions.”

In other words, just as the Blessed Trinity is no accident, neither is stewardship. It is our response to God’s gifts. Furthermore, it involves us making “conscious and purposeful” decisions about how we will live our lives, and how we will use the many gifts we have received to serve God and to serve God’s purposes.

In today’s Gospel from John, the Lord proclaims that the Holy Spirit will “guide you to all truth.” Stewardship is truth; it is the way we are called to see our lives and to live our lives. It is a God-centered way of living. Catholic Christian stewardship is using the gifts God has given us, to do the work God has called us to do. One of the primary objectives of our lives is to discern and carry out God’s purpose for us. What is our personal mission? Do you hear God’s call to be truer within your faith and beliefs?

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STEWARDSHIP……A WAY OF LIFE

pentecost-icon

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP FROM SUNDAYS READINGS

The readings for this Pentecost Sunday abound with stewardship messages and imagery. In a brief deliberation it is impossible to mention all, let alone expound upon them. Nevertheless, the second reading from 1 Corinthians includes two phrases that absolutely capture the quintessence of stewardship.

St. Paul asserts: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit.” This is tantamount to the oft-quoted declaration, “Everything we are and everything we have comes from God.” All of the readings on Pentecost emphasize the Holy Spirit — also known as Holy Ghost, Paraclete, Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, and Helper — and how this Spirit pervades our lives and imbues us with all that is holy.

St. Paul adds: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Benefit to whom? Certainly, it is a benefit to us as individuals, so that we can use those gifts to help God and assist others. That is stewardship — using the gifts we have received to build the Kingdom of God and to serve and comfort others.

Our challenge is to identify those gifts; channel those gifts in ways they can be shared; and, develop those gifts so they enrich all of those around us.

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