In the weeks leading up to Lent the Parish Renewal Group (PRIG) launched the Lenten project ‘We walk with Jesus: Jesus walks with us’ which was piloted in two parishes, Innaloo/Karrinyup and Rivervale. The project aimed to revitalize parish life by inviting the parishioners to reflect on how each person can use their own God given gifts and talents to contribute to building a faith community that is welcoming as Jesus welcomes. The goal of the project is to create long-term change in the thinking of parishioners which ultimately leads to long-term engagement with parish life. Both parishes eagerly took on the pilot and while working on the same principles, used strategies which were appropriate for their community.

In the midst of the pilot, COVID19 forced the closure of parish Churches and it was thought that the pilot would be on hold until the situation changed. Both parishes agreed not to lose momentum on the good work of connecting with parishioners that had already begun in the pilot.  Fr Bernard, parish priest of Innaloo/Karrinyup reported the Parish Pastoral Council saw this as an opportunity to stand up as a parish community and support those who are most in need. The question became, ‘how are we going to make to best out of the current situation?’. All efforts are being made to keep the parishioners connected. Groups have taken responsibility to contact parishioners through a mail drop, the internet and by phone calls.  Fr Bernard livestreams a liturgy of the Word for parishioners each Sunday and it becomes a time when he can chat with them as well.  He has organised parishioners to livestream a Children’s Liturgy of the Word to try and keep families connected. The parish is buzzing and well connected.

Fr Robert, parish priest of Rivervale, used the pilot as a time to enhance to life of the parish by introducing a Parish Pastoral Team. Fr Robert said, ‘this team serves as an ‘animator’ to parish life. The focus of the Parish Pastoral team are pastoral initiatives to enhance parish participation. The focus of the team is to enhance the life of the parish through ‘hands on’ pastoral actions and initiatives to build stronger relationships within the parish. The team meets weekly to oversee and act upon the everyday pastoral needs of the parish.  While COVID 19 has limited some of the pastoral initiatives planned, like Innaloo/Karrinyup, the parish is still functioning and there are pastoral initiatives in place once the social distancing guidelines are lifted.

The pilot has been a catalyst for both these parishes in keeping parishioners engaged with the parish in this time of isolation.  It has enabled the communities to come and know who their parishioners are and has enabled the parishes to love and care for others as Jesus loves and cares for each of us.   The Church building may be closed but the Body of Christ is active and alive.

For more information on the pilot parishes, please click on the following links:

https://innalookarrinyup.perthcatholic.org.au/

https://www.parishrenewal.com.au/uncategorized/a-parish-renewal-pilot-project-st-augustine-parish-rivervale-wa/

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