In St. Jude’s letter in the New Testament is found the very strong emphasis on ‘mercy, peace and love’. These three aspects of our Christianity are in fact at the very core of every religious context.
We believe that the members of the parish are called by Jesus Christ as a community to share a common faith.
Because we believe this, we are constantly searching for ways and means to understand and celebrate Jesus Christ as our centre of faith: our Way, our Truth and our Life. We call this search ‘faith development’. It must be centred on our daily life experience, and profoundly developed and deepened by our reflection on scripture, church tradition and teaching, and prayer.
We promote this development from the following perspectives:
- Birth to death: we believe that a person’s faith is never a static reality but is always a journey of growth from the very early years of life to the time of death. Such faith needs opportunities to develop in an integrated and ongoing way. It is a journey with the God of our ancestors and one that will culminate in the eternal life promised to all.
- This faith is a personal response to the God who calls, invites, commands and challenges, and is always lived out in the context of life and of community, especially the community that gathers for weekly Eucharist.
- The context of life experiences: we believe that God is always present in every moment of a person’s life. Reflecting on these experiences of life in the light of the Word of God, tradition and prayer, we come to know that we have encountered the living God.
- A learning by participating: we learn by being actively involved.
- The power of God’s Word and Sacraments: the Word of God and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, are essential to our lives as we continue God’s story in this period of human history and in this area of Melbourne. The sacraments can nourish, comfort, challenge, direct and guide us in our daily living.
- The importance of the parish: we belong to the parish of St. Jude; we strive to live as a community. We value friendship and celebration. We experience support, we share responsibility. All celebrations of Sacraments are parish occasions.
- A world context: we believe that the living faith propels and compels us beyond our own circle of family and parish, to the wider horizons of neighbourhood, nation and world. We live in a global world, a universal church.
- The centrality of family: we acknowledge the family as the primary community of faith. We seek to promote ways by which the parents of families live and teach the Christian faith.
- We believe in offering opportunities for adults to develop a mature faith and encourage a confidence in sharing faith with others.
- We support parent/s in their role as the first educator/s in faith of their children.
- The value of small communities: to encourage the growth and development of small Christian communities within the parish. In these small communities, families and individuals can gather to be-friend, to minister pastorally to each other, to share life together and pray together, to organize and take responsibility for their own faith development in responding to the challenge of living out faith in the wider world.
- The place of Catholic tradition: we believe in the authority and the teaching of our Catholic tradition and seek to implement such teaching in pastorally relevant ways.
In terms of implementation, the importance of liturgical celebrations are given a central place, for it is in the liturgy that we are challenged by God’s Word to live what we proclaim and to celebrate the Christ who is with us and calls us to go out as his disciples. It is in liturgy that we, as a community, open ourselves to the action of God’s Spirit in on-going conversion, transformation and mission.
Our parish provides further opportunities for faith development through:
- Baptism preparation
- God Start
- Religious education for primary school children in all schools in the parish
- Teacher faith development: staff is expected to attend two days faith development each year
- Parish sacramental programmes
- Adult Faith Development programmes
- RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
- RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation of Children)
- Pastoral outreach programmes, e.g., St. Vincent de Paul
- Marriage preparation
- Children’s liturgy / Liturgy of the Word
- Liturgy / music groups
- Small Christian communities
- Courses offered by parish and diocesan agencies
- Sacramental leadership formation
- Parent development and training
- Prayer group
In summary, our Christian response to God is called “faith”. It finds expression in behaviour, ritual, beliefs, moral code, prayer, social life, etc.
Faith development involves offering opportunities for a person to reflect and recognize the experience of God at every stage of life. Ultimately, while educators/co-ordinators can provide these opportunities, it is God who invites a person into relationship and enables the person to recognize/respond “in God’s own good time…”