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Donnybrook Parish

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Donnybrook Parish

AdventAs we begin a new Church year, the Gospel (Lk. 21: 25-28) of the First Sunday of Advent, curiously, presents vividly a picture of a world collapsing. Creation is falling apart.  The work of God’s creation is being undone. The lamps that hung in the sky to light the earth are sending out distress signals. The waters that had once covered the earth, that God siphoned off into seas, are returning. Human kind no longer has a place of safety and security and people are terrified by roar of collapse.  Whether collapse is cosmic, earthquakes, fires, floods, gales; social political or economic anarchy, threatening the social order, sickness and death of the collapse of our personally constructed worlds of meaning, collapse happens in the world we inhabit. Things fall apart and so do we. In a fragile, threatening world, how can we, vulnerable people, stand, endure and live?

If we give ourselves over totally to the physical, material and social world, we will collapse with them. There is, however, another dimension of ourselves not subject to collapse, a place to take a stand and endure, something not vulnerable to breakdown? We need to discover that dimension, to be in touch with it, to inhabit it. The task of this Advent season is to find it. That dimension is the Spirit in each of us, the Spirit of God in whose image we have been created. Every collapse is an opportunity for a new beginning. Preparing for Christmas is readying ourselves to encounter the Lord who is with us, who is in us and through whom we too can triumph over chaos and adversity.

Our Church, as we have known it, is collapsing. 2000 attended Donnybrook Church each Sunday in 2008. Just over 900 attended over the first three Sundays in October 2018. Though since 2011 the population of Donnybrook Parish increased by almost 1000, those who registered themselves as Catholics in the census of 2016 was 900 less than in 2011. How, as a parish, a community of believing and witnessing people, do we take a stand and endure? What is the Spirit of Jesus saying to us now? Our recent Parish Gathering engaged with that question. One hundred and twenty people met, prayed and, in conversations in small groups, noted what we were proud of in our parish and suggested where we can do better. The Parish Pastoral Council reflected on the feedback . A report of the gathering under the five dimensions of the life of an active parish, Evangelisation, Faith Formation, Community, Liturgy and Service, was prepared, published and distributed. There were many good suggestions. Four priorities were identified:

Outreach out to young people and young adults;

Formation and support for parents in conjunction with sacramental preparation of children;

Make the new Parish Pastoral Centre a place for Building Community and Formation in faith;

Establish better communications using modern technology.

We are all invited to read the report, reflect and pray on how each of us can contribute to developing one or more of these priorities. We are invited to volunteer to do so. The Parish Pastoral Council will gather those who interested in each priority to reflect on each of these pastoral priorities, investigate what is available and make proposals for action. The Parish Council will then draw up a parish plan of action, to be reviewed annually. Then, as a parish, we can as the Gospel said, ‘survive all that is going to happen and stand with confidence before the Son of Man (Lk.21:36)’, for whose coming we are preparing.