Finding Joy in the Gospel

Joy of the Gospel

Some of the more than 100 parishioners who took part in the Joy of the Gospel revitalisation weekend.

WHAT IF we could reach those who don’t come to Mass on the weekend?

What if we were able to craft a believing community that was; Welcoming, Worshiping, Captivating… with great homilies and great liturgy?

What if young couples began to return, crying children once again appeared, and the pagans came? These questions and more were posed by MenALIVE founder – Robert Falzon at the Joy of the Gospel parish revitalisation weekend in Canberra recently.

The weekend was hosted by the Archdiocese and attracted more than 100 parishioners from across greater ACT.

It was held in the Haydon Hall at St Christopher’s Pastoral Centre and compered by Executive Director at the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, Tony Farley.

Highlights included lively and informative talks by American Catholic Psychologist, Angela McCabe, well-known local musician, Stephen Kirk and Mr Falzon.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse delivered a presentation at the sessions which took the form of nine 20 minute TED style Talk (see YouTube for TED Talks) and followed by discussions on each table.

Renewal of leadership

Mr Falzon, who left his job and founded menALIVE in 2003, proved inspiring during his address calling for a renewal of leadership in the Church among the laity.

He said the Archdiocese should be congratulated on taking the initiative in facilitating The Joy of the Gospel, which has come in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional abuse.

Mr Falzon, who last year authored a book called The Father Factor,

He said if we think the same things – do the same things—we will get the same results.

“Don’t be infected by the inevitable by go after the possible,” Mr Falzon said.

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“Jesus said nothing is impossible. Let’s go after the impossible.

“We need leadership which is looking for what isn’t yet.

“The vision is what we see, and the mission is what we do!”

Good community, good teaching and preaching

Mr Falzon’s talk resonated with the theme of the weekend which focused around good community, good teaching and preaching.

Along with good music, these are the hallmarks of a thriving parish. Well-known local Catholic musician Stephen Kirk gave a masterclass on Music in the Mass.

He covered topics ranging from the purpose and power of music in the Mass right through to how we should determine which music to choose.

He said because of its power, [music] “can be incredibly helpful or just as harmful in trying to draw people into the mysteries being celebrated.

“Music is able to sneak past our defences and preconceptions and impact our souls with echoes of the beauty and mystery of God.”

Continuing on, Mr Kirk said music is a powerful medium through which to present the truths of heaven in the sounds on earth.

“The Church welcomes all forms of true art from all cultures,” he said.

“Music in the liturgy must respect the spirit of the liturgy and possess a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty.

“Fundamentally the music must always serve and never dominate the liturgy.”

Mr Kirk said how we determine which music to choose should satisfy three criteria as follows:

Is it beautiful enough to bear the weight of the mysteries? Does it draw people into the liturgical action? Does [the music] enable these people to express their faith, in this place, in this age, in this culture?

Other presenters included Archdiocesan Vicar General Fr Tony Percy, Nathan Galea, Huw Warmenhoven, Helen Delahunty, Tim Smith as well as Anthony and Jeanine Doyle.

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Need for change in our parishes

Setting the tone for the weekend, Fr Percy opened up on the need for change in our parishes.

‘A change of era, not an era of change’ was the title of his talk which was based on teachings of Pope Francis and covered topics such as secularization, family, individualism and tomb psychology (Evangelii Gaudium, 2013)

Mr Galea, is the Archdiocesan project officer for New Evangelisation in Catholic Schools (Youth Ministry) Religious Education and Curriculum.

He spoke on the topic ‘if you knew the gift from God?’ (John 4:10), which focused on how best we can celebrate the gift of God in our parishes.

Helen and Tim Smith addressed the audience on governance and stewardship relationship between the three key parish bodies – pastoral councils, finance committees and school councils.

Archdiocesan Youth Coordinator, Huw Warmenhoven shared about ‘The Power of a Witness’, while Mr and Mrs Doyle delivered a keynote on teaching and preaching examining the rich tradition of faith contained in the Word of God and Catechism and how we might present this in the 21st century with the many different mediums at our fingertips.

Several parish priests took part in the nine unit sessions and all attendees received a thank-you and de-brief email from Fr Percy.

The email encompasses a Joy of the Gospel de-brief and thanks parishioners and priests for their attendance.

A follow up review and feedback session of the Joy of the Gospel will take place at St Christopher’s Pastoral Centre on the evening of Friday, October 26.

To learn more about the parish revitalisation in the Archdiocese go to

Robert Falzon’s five points on leadership for mission

“I am assuming that we all take as pre-requisite for Mission; That a Leader will everyday: – pray/read the scriptures and be in relationship with Jesus.”

  • “Let it Be done” Just do it! Great Leadership does things. They take ACTION >>> ACTS. It’s a call to do something.
  • Quo Vadis—Which Way WHY? Great leadership is clear about the WHY—PURPOSE > If we lose our Why we lose our Way. Our Why is our Mission –why we exist, our purpose — that is to reach those in the pews with a fresh heart and enthusiasm for the Gospel. To reach those who only attend occasionally, with a cogent, clear and convincing message that draws them to come back more often. To reach those who never come and won’t come until we do something differently. The Why is the action of reaching people with the Joyful Brilliance of the Gospels Good News that God is Love. God is merciful, and God is Father.
  • Preaching + Proclamation and Communication: Every moment of church renewal in history has begun with a new voice speaking into the chaos and emptiness: just like at creation Gen 1/2. God spoke, and it was — Preceding the great eras of renewal and refreshment in the life of the church and its action for the world there has always been a New Proclamation and a New Pentecost Burst of Preaching and Communicating. All the great times of change were marked by a renewal in the power of preaching.
  • Responsibility: Great leaders are Responsible– Response – Able. St JP11 said that the Laity are to be Collaborators with ordained ministry. A Big step forward. Pope Benedict then went on to say –The Laity are Co- Responsible with ordained ministry in the tasks of the church. A Giant step!
    Let those who have eyes see.
  • Vision and Imagination: Leadership needs to find a way to do church that works. This requires VISION. Be Imaginative, Creative, Innovative.
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