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News from Clermont

22 March, 2024

On Sunday 25th February following 8.00am Mass, over thirty St Mary’s Clermont parishioners gathered to review and assess its needs both in the Spiritual welfare of the congregation but also how to actively contribute to the mission of the St Mary’s Catholic Church in the community.
St Mary’s is not unlike many other Parishes faced with an ageing and diminishing congregation while trying to maintain the mission of the Church.
Through generous sponsorship of the Diocese, Sr Noreen Dunne kindly travelled from Tannum Sands to facilitate the meeting. Sr Noreen also led the opening prayer which reflected on the Foundations of Mission.
The agenda drawn from the Cluster Mission Statement states “We will live out the commission of Jesus to witness to him; seeking to grow in our faith and participating in the life of our church and the broader community”.
Using the Mission Statement as a guide, the discussion covered the following points:

Where are we? This was a brief overview of the Parish at present looking at current Pastoral issues and an assessment of resources.

Why are we? This was a look at what, as baptised Catholics, our faith calls us to do and how we fit the ethos of the Catholic Church into the contemporary secular world and the demands of family, work, and community commitments.

What are our needs? This discussion certainly provoked some prayerful thought looking at what are the most pressing spiritual and pastoral needs besides provision of the Mass and Sacraments. And what is the need for Outreach and mission and giving a high visibility of “doing something” in the community?

Here the gathering paid tribute to Sr Helen Archer RSJ who retired last year ending a 123-year presence of the Sisters of St Joseph. St Mary’s certainly had been gifted with her presence and her absence highlighted the call to fill the gaps in ministry and outreach that she quietly carried out in the background.

How are we? This discussion focused on how to achieve our mission and keep the church alive and growing. There was a definite call to empower Lay resources to assist in the delivery of these needs and more so, an urgent ongoing education for lay leadership.

The gathering looked at those volunteers who have family responsibilities but are generously servicing the demands of church. An example discussed here was “Married with children”. The consensus was a definite need to “share the load”.

The material and financial needs of the local church were highlighted with the financial figures for the past twelve months being shown. Following on from this point, the historical and current relationship between St Joseph’s School and St Mary’s Church was discussed including a review of the main annual fund raising event, the St Mary’s Christmas Fair.

Sr Noreen suggested that the group looked at, not the overpowering workload, but what “we were doing well”. This gave the gathering impetus to keep on doing what the Parish can do and do it well.

Joy Philippi, Executive Officer for Mission in the Rockhampton Diocese, was also in attendance and suggested that the Parish select one project at a time. Joy also took note of what resources the Diocese can provide particularly ongoing face-to-face education of Lay Leadership.

Fr Jayanthi, in closing the meeting with a prayer, spoke about his role of Parish Priest to the Peak Downs Cluster of six parishes and some of the challenges and difficulties he faced as well.

The above items hopefully were the start of a renewed local input into St Mary’s Parish. It was decided that a similar Parish Gathering be held at the start of each year to assess the needs of the Parish for the ensuing year.

“We pray that the Spirit will inspire us to meet the Mission of St Mary’s Parish, Clermont.”

Response from Joy Philippi, Pastoral Services,Executive Officer – Mission

What a wonderful gathering of the parish of Clermont and a great opportunity to commit to living out the mission of the parish (and indeed the Diocesan Vision Statement) as fully as possible. Given the chance to hear clearly what resources (financially, pastorally and humanly) are available and able to be used, the group will prioritize what should happen to move forward. Engaging in the Diocesan Pastoral Plan will help guide the path. It is important that the group focusses on what they do and do well, as Sr Noreen mentioned to them. It was also recommended that they choose one priority at a time rather than have a list of things that will possibly make the task seem unachievable. I look forward to working with the Clermont parish as they are energized to move forward. They are also very happy to share the template they used for the discussion if other parishes are interested. I particularly thank Alan Guilfoyle, Fr Jayanthi and Sr Noreen for their leadership in sharing the mission.