Message from the organisers

Welcome to this National Pastoral Leaders and Pastoral Planners Conference website

On behalf of the Planning Team I warmly invite you to come to Melbourne this Spring.  We hope you will join us as we explore what it means in these times to “belong” to Church.

Spring – new life, new energies, new visions. A wonderful time to be in Melbourne, and to be with each other. You will receive a warm welcome!

This Conference is being planned at the instigation of the Association of Pastoral Associates of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and follows on from previous conferences held in dioceses such as Newcastle/Maitland, Brisbane Adelaide and Melbourne since 1987.  They have been a valuable way for Pastoral Leaders, clergy and Pastoral Associates, to gather and reflect together.  This Conference is the first time we have joined with the National Pastoral Planners Network, with whom we are excited to be collaborating.

Our theme:  Vine and Branches – Yearning to Belong, grew from discussion following reading Hugh Mackay’s latest books Beyond Belief and The Art of Belonging.

We reflected on the following questions:

  • Who belongs to our church? who doesn’t? Why? and why not?
  • How do we belong – as church leaders, clergy, pastoral associates, other lay leaders and pastoral planners?
  • What about the people we serve? How do they belong? Yes, those with whom we celebrate the Eucharist regularly clearly belong, but what about those who are with us every now and then, those who come in need; funerals, weddings, baptisms, those school parents who may not connect to the Sunday Eucharist?
  • Where do we, as a Church, belong? Have we lost our place?

We are people with a deep love for the church, yet experiencing the pain that belonging and working in the church these days can bring. The Royal Commission on Church Related Sexual Abuse, the call for a stronger role for all the baptised and especially women, the challenges in including young people – and many more issues are part of what we grapple with today.

And yet we are committed to our church, that’s why we are here, and why we want to stay – committed to making our parishes Christ centred; Gospel focused and inclusive. We seek to be open to the work of the Spirit, open to living the servant leadership asked of us and open to finding new ways that will make our faith communities relevant for contemporary Australia.

We are thrilled to have a wonderful array of keynote speakers and workshop presenters. Prof. Richard Gaillardetz comes from Boston College, which was recently named number 5 in the list of best Theological Colleges worldwide. Rick heads the Theology Department there, so we are in for a treat!

And we have fantastic speakers from over Australia – so well known and respected by us all: Geraldine Doogue, Hugh Mackay, Maeve Louise Heaney and Archbishop Mark Coleridge. And there are 20 workshops on offer to open up a vast array of topics relevant for us all.

You will be delighted that you have put aside these days – from Monday evening 4th September to Thursday 7th at midday. Just on 3 days packed with input, sharing, meals, prayer, networking and fun.

 Come! You will love it here in Melbourne in Spring!

Maria George signature

Maria George on behalf of the Planning Committee: