In September, the Proclaim Conference in Sydney reminded us of the words of St John XXIII, that the parish is “the village fountain, from which all can drink, finding in it the freshness of the Gospel.” Besides the rich array of keynotes, stalls and workshops, what was particularly striking was the mix of delegates. Lay participants formed the overwhelming majority of participants, and snatches of conversation in small groups and over meal breaks revealed a staggering diversity of ministries being engaged in by lay people from almost every diocese. These are the people working alongside our ordained to ensure the work of the church continues. If the parish is truly to be the “village fountain”, then it is the work of the ordained and lay to bring the waters to the village, and invite people to taste of these waters.
The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment of hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. The parish is….a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and the centre of constant missionary outreach. [Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel 28]