Proclaiming the Word of God in Baradine and Lithgow
The Diocesan Assembly Council conducted events in both Baradine and Lithgow over Friday 24th July - Monday 27th July, with more than 160 people attending the sessions.
Entitled "Proclaiming the Word of God Effectively," the events gave readers, as well as parishioners interested in reading at Mass, the opportunity to better understand why we proclaim the Word of God, gain valuable public speaking advice as well as practical lessons about the role and responsibility of the reader.
Bishop Michael McKenna invited Father John McSweeney to be guest speaker at the events. Father John is currently the Parish Priest of St. John XXIII Parish in Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens. He has a long and distinguished history and interest in Biblical Studies and has spent time in Rome and Jerusalem while completing post-graduate studies in Biblical Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, eventually gaining a Licentiate in Biblical Studies.
Father John was appointed a lecturer in New Testament at St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary and his work in the Australian Navy as a chaplain in the Persian Gulf during the second Iraq War and at the Australian Defence Force Academy has added to his depth of understanding of the scriptures and their importance in daily life.
Father John gave an excellent presentation on "How and why we proclaim the Word of God", explaining the history, inspiration and interpretation of the books of the Bible as well as providing those in attendance with a very useful insights of what role the Proclaimer of the Word has within Liturgy.
The presentations began on Friday at St. John's Catholic Primary School, Baradine with 20 Year 5 and 6 children. Father Mark McGuigan and Marianne Matthews talked about how story telling is a special aspect of our culture and ensures that knowledge of our people is passed from one generation to another. The aim of running the sessions with school children was to develop their interest and skill in reading at Liturgies at school as well as reading at Mass in their local parish.
On Saturday, 36 people from Baradine, Coonabarabran, Coolah, Mendooran, Elong Elong, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Orange and Dubbo gathered at St. John's Catholic Church, Baradine to listen to Father John and further develop their skills as readers.
Emma Starr from Baradine said "I found the sessions had a wonderful balance of both academic and practical approaches to Gods Word. Father John was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic in sharing his learning and wisdom. His perspective was very refreshing. It was great to discuss practical tips on public speaking, which are often forgotten in what is considered a 'reading' task. I really enjoyed taking the time out to discuss the importance of Proclaiming Gods Word with others".
The event was then repeated in Lithgow on Sunday, at St. Mary of the Cross Hall at St. Patrick's Primary School. Fifty parishioners from Mudgee, Lithgow, Orange, Portland, Wallerawang, Kandos, Oberon and Blayney joined with Bishop Michael McKenna and Father Mark McGuigan as Father John shared his thoughts and wisdom with all those in attendance. The day ended with a prayful Liturgy of the Word and procession of the Gospel.
On Monday, 60 students from MacKillop College and LaSalle Academy came together at LaSalle Academy to hear from Father John and Mrs Mary Clancy. Religous Education Coordinator from MacKillop College, Mrs Tina Watson said, "Father John McSweeney provided some excellent insight about the context in which the various texts in the Bible were written. Mrs Mary Clancy gave sound advice regarding oral skills which help to bring the Word alive. It is hoped this day will inspire the students to become more involved in both school and parish liturgical events".
The Diocesan Assembly Council was delighted with the response of those who participated and look forward to continuing to provide this kind of event in other parts of the Diocese in the future.