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Understanding cultural change is
central to grasping what’s happening
to faith and the Church today, Adelaide
theologian Fr James McEvoy told
participants at the first of a series of New
Directions forums last month.
The Forums for Learning and Dialogue
follow the visit to Adelaide last year of
Fr David Couturier OFM Cap, and tackle
some of the challenges facing parishes.
More than 116 representatives of
parishes, schools and agencies attended
the first forum held at the Croydon Park
Catholic parish hall.
Fr McEvoy gave a presentation which
put the challenge of proclaiming the
gospel in a secular world in a historical
“In every period of Christian history since
the Pentecost event, the commission to
proclaim the gospel has challenged the
believing community; but in our time the
challenge seems far greater,” he said.
“We look around our churches on the
weekend and see empty seats, which 50
years earlier were filled to overflowing.
“We read statistics from the most
recent Australian Census and from the
Australian Church Life Survey, and find
that about 12 percent of Catholics are at
Mass on any Sunday, while the number
of Mass-attending Catholics in the 1950s
was many times that figure.
“That little snapshot of the present is
symptomatic of the changing place of
religious belief and practice in the West
However, Fr McEvoy said it was “all too
easy to oversimplify” the major cultural
shift to a secular age.
“In particular, it’s all too easy to
understand it in terms of a ‘decline’ – as
if contemporary Australians have either
lost or rid themselves of their forebears’
religious belief and practice,” he said.
“We no longer live in the hierarchical
world of the 16th century, in which every
dimension of material and social life –
cathedrals and laws, kings and lords –
reminded people of the presence of God
and led them into it.
“In our day, the social structure doesn’t
immediately connect people with the
presence of God...today, we live in
pluralist societies, in which people of a
variety of faiths and none live alongside
“So in this ‘Age of Authenticity’, we
need to find a new model, a new way of
proclaiming the gospel.” He referred to
the need for respectful dialogue: “When
we remain open to the truth that others
bring, and recognise the truth of the
gospel in our own lives, we open the
possibility of others discovering that
Dr Susan Holoubek, Director of Mission,
Calvary Health Care Adelaide, spoke
about her own personal faith journey
– from growing up in a family that was
actively involved in all aspects of parish
life, joining youth groups, attending the
Rock Mass, through to her current role
She suggested that what mattered most
was to be living witnesses to the “loving,
encouraging and joyful spirit of Jesus”.
“If we nourish our own faith and allow
that faith to radiate through every facet
of our lives, I think that might be as good
as it gets,” she said.
In other developments, the New
Directions Task Force has met twice to
discuss the issues and priorities that
need to be incorporated into a pastoral
plan for the renewal of the Archdiocese.
The Task Force is chaired by former
State Government education minister
Mr Greg Crafter AO and includes Sr
Bernadette Kiley OP, Fr Philip Marshall,
Fr Charles Lukati, Fr Richard Morris,
Tim Grauel, Heather Carey, Jenny
Brinkworth, Fr John Rate, Sr Josephine
Dubiel SOSJ, Helen O’Brien, Sarah
Moffatt, Orla Wright, Pauline Connelly,
Deacon Arturo Jiminea, Sue Rivett,
Teresa Lynch and Fr Denis Edwards.
A key focus of the work of the taskforce
will be ways of engaging with youth and
Seeking a new model of
proclaiming the Gospel
INSIGHTS: Dr Susan Holoubek and Fr James McEvoy spoke at the first Forum
for Learning and Dialogue. For more information on the Forums, click here.
The Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le AO
spoke about his vision for an Australia more fully
integrated into the Asian region at the inaugural
Catholics In Business Adelaide (CIB) breakfast
CIB was established in Australia three years
ago by Fr James Grant with the aim of bringing
together Catholics from different walks of life
who have a shared interest in the economic and
political life of the Church and nation.
Speaking at the Adelaide event, Fr James Grant,
who is based in Melbourne, said that of all the
religious traditions in Australia, Catholics were
perhaps the weakest at networking, sharing and
developing business ideas to benefit not only
each other but those in the wider society.
“In a world in which some Australian celebrities
and actors have lauded the ‘cathartic value’ of
damaging or setting fire to Catholic churches, we
need a somewhat stronger voice in portraying
our wider strengths and substantial contribution
to Australian life,” he said.
The Governor suggested some potential
business opportunities with our Asian neighbours
and engaged the gathering with his own story of
his journey to Australia, which heavily influenced
by his strong Catholicism and the persecution
undergone by Catholics in Vietnam at the end of
the Vietnam War.
Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall celebrated Mass
prior to breakfast which was attended by 110
businessmen and women.
Catholics In Business is hoping to host its
second breakfast in Adelaide in early August
2015, with details to be available soon.
Governor kicks off
CIB in Adelaide
Governor Hieu Van Le and Fr James Grant at
the inaugural breakfast.
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By Jenny Brinkworth
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