Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Harvey Catholic Church, whose leader Father Jess Navarra and his team, build their health and vitality through initiatives such as this.

Read the conversation below.

JN: After I took over from January, my approach was to recognise the strength of the parish, the strength of the individual parishioners.  And what I did was to keep encouraging them to bring that strength together, the alignment of strength of everyone in the parish and eventually it generates a very positive, optimistic outlook of our parish life. 

My approach really is I always appreciate people and recognise them.  The appreciative approach to every individual and the parish as a whole, let it really generate a very positive outcome and result.  My strategy is really an appreciative approach of the parish.

NCLS: It sounds like it’s very inclusive and encouraging people to contribute.

JN: That’s correct, yes.  What we did then, for the first three months, I didn’t initiate any change at all.  My first three months here was really trying to know the story of the parish again and refresh myself and recognise and establish the strength of the parish.  So that’s what I did.  Then after Easter, leading towards Pentecost Sunday, we launched the new vision of our parish. 

And the vision of the parish is really to encourage and increase more participation and engagement in the life mission and ministry of our parish. That’s our vision now in the next two years. 

Then after the Pentecost Sunday, we launched our Gifting Sundays, it was three Sundays.  Gifting Sunday is all about creating an awareness and advertising all the existing ministries, services, groups in our parish and invite the parishioners to consider, reflect, pray and discern for them and encourage to join those available ministries and groups in the parish. We had the Gifting Sundays for the last three weeks after Pentecost. 

Then after the Gifting Sundays, that’s the time we were able to collate the survey because we asked them to fill out the form.  We collated the result and then by June, July, August, it’s more on formations, driving in formations and formations for all the existing groups and ministries of the parish.  By September, October we had installed three acolytes, the three main acolytes are all in the age of 19, 21 and 22, young men. We also installed four Eucharistic ministers and three women are in their age 20s. 

That’s the picture of the parish and we had the last fiesta of Our Lady of the Immigrants last October and it was a beautiful celebration.  Buses from Perth, mainly Italians and we had different people from different parishes join us and we had a procession in town, and it was well participated and the celebration up to five o’clock in the afternoon it was a beautiful celebration.

So, you could see the food served there by the Tongans, food served by the Italians, food served by the Philippinos that they the love.  We have two pigs on the spit at the fiesta.So yes, that’s the picture of the parish..

NCLS: It sounds like you’ve already described particular actions that the parish have taken that contributed to your vitality.  What led or motivated the parish to take the actions? 

JN: Yes, I would say my approach is really encouraging and animating, and I think the key word there is appreciating each and every individual.  I think when you appreciate individuals as maybe a sacristan, maybe the music ministry, I think that’s alone really is a powerful approach to encourage people to really engage more. 

So, there is my analysis is once you engage in terms of appreciative approach it will generate a highly commitment and highly engagement in individuals.

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