Saturday, 5 January 2013
In Nov 2012 a survey to help develop the FaithWorks@Newtown 2013 program is summerised below.
The demographics of the survey respondents were predictable in that most were over 50 years of age, live close by although not in the parish boundaries (although nearly half indicated they lived outside the inner west) and were living in diverse circumstances (only half indicating they live with a partner). One issue this raises is difficulty with time and place for events as many need to travel to attend something at Newtown.
People liked Newtown parish because it is inclusive (Aboriginal recognition, LGBTI); non-judgemental; open; thought provoking; relevant (preaching; spirituality and liturgy); welcoming; easy going; diverse; embodies Vat II ideals and its catholicity. Some aspects of parish life appreciated were the music; cuppa; discussion group; intelligent preaching; no spiritually abusive prayers from the altar; outreach (Barkat, Cana Communities, Marrickville Multifaith, Rachel’s Vineyard, Stafford House, NA, AA and SVdeP) and the beautiful building. The social justice emphasis in liturgy and action and that everyone is welcome at Parish Team Meetings was also appreciated.
It was noted that there could be more welcoming at beginning of Mass (maybe an opportunity to meet people) and that the parish, being a small group, can be cliquey and Sunday cuppa after Mass is interrupted by Indonesians.
Interestingly the most attended functions were the Christmas and Easter parties, although forums (SIP) and the Reconciliation liturgies were high on the list. As we have few programs for spiritual development this may account for this missing in a question about what people attend now. However there was strong support for faith discussion and development with the proviso that time and distance are real issues for many. Having said that, there a strong showing for events at the church on weekdays and nights and Sundays with a good number indicating they would like a meal with the speaker/discussion/event.
Other suggestions for the future were talks (Catholicism for beginners; Spirituality; pastoral care; Tricky questions - homophobia, abortion, sex outside of marriage, divorce etc; Vatican II; reaching out to unchurched Catholics; liturgy training and ministerial courses; response to the Royal commission; saints (heroes); Mary; prayer and morality ); Christian meditation; reaching out to the community; using broader educational institutes – (eg Broken Bay Institute); Aboriginal speakers; social events (eg. film night); working bee; golf day; Ignation spirituality and Catholic social teaching.
Other comments included developing community; sustainability of parish functions (church maintenance; counting; welcoming; visitation of sick; how to mobilise wider base group for jobs?; name tags at Mass; extending cuppa to Christmas day and Easter Sunday Mass and further support for Acceptance. There was one comment about the perceived elitism of the Parish Team – this would seem strange to the Team because every parishioner is encouraged to come to every Parish Team Meeting and get involved.
A comment about the Parish Team Meeting - it began as a small selected group to prepare for Bishop Cremin’s visit about 10 years ago. The group decided to open the meeting up to all parishioners to assist in supporting and shaping the parish development. So even though it may seem to be a closed group at times, there is no reason not to be involved and contribute. However we need more than your ideas; we need the necessary support to make the ideas happen.