by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — New Zealand theologian Fr Neil Darragh wants to hear from Massgoers about how
often outreach beyond the church is mentioned at Sunday Mass in their parishes.
Fr Darragh, who works in Auckland diocese’s Theological Research Unit, made that plea at the end of a presentation at a Living Our Catholic Social Teaching seminar in Auckland on August 10.
“In your last Sunday Eucharist, what explicit mention was there of outreach to people outside of the Church itself,” was the question he put.
Fr Darragh was especially interested in hearing mentions of outreach in the homily, prayers of
the faithful and elsewhere at Mass.
He has edited a book titled But is it fair? Faith Communities & Social Justice, which explores a faith response to inequality in New Zealand.
The book, published by Accent Publications, was launched earlier this year.
In his August 10 presentation at the St Columba Centre in Ponsonby, Fr Darragh drew upon Pope
Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and the seven key principles of Catholic social teaching.The latter are human dignity, solidarity, preferential option for
the poor and vulnerable, common good, subsidiarity, stewardship and participation. They are the focus of Social Justice Week in September.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote that, “The Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community
of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice”.
“Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved (EG24).Fr Darragh questioned how well a Church could give witness when it had issues of justice in its own
life to deal with.
During his presentation, he asked the 80 people present to suggest the opposites of the key
principles of social teaching, in order to more clearly define them.
A workshop at the seminar was given by Mercy sisters Anne Hurley and Margaret Martin on what their two decades of outreach in south Auckland taught them about reading the signs of the times.
Other workshops were Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s Nick Borthwick on development, Msgr Gerard
Burns from Wellington on putting Evangelii Gaudium into context and The Catholic Institute lecturer Lyn Smith on reflecting Christ through Catholic social teaching.
At one of the workshops, those present were reminded of a planned anti child-poverty march
The seminar was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission of Auckland diocese.
Its goals were to help people prepare for Social Justice Week and to help parishes implement
Auckland diocese’s “Fit for Mission” pastoral plan.
by MICHAEL OTTO