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Ablaze Parish Renewal Conference

The Ablaze Conference was a wonderful two days of inspiring keynotes, informative workshops and times of prayer and ministry.

280 people attended including people from every diocese in Aotearoa.

We are grateful to our sponsors who have supported us:

The Catholic Development Fund
Commodore Hotel
Cavell Leitch Law

For more information:
Contact the Bishop’s Pastoral Office; email pastoral@chch.catholic.org.nz or phone 03 366 9869

Conference Workshop Presenter Notes

We are working on loading material from the various presenters onto this page.

Breakout Session – Round 1. 11.15am – 12.45pm

From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age – Alex Chia

To understand parish renewal today and the need to move from maintenance to mission, it is imperative to understand that the world has changed. We no longer live in Christendom but an age where the dominating world view has pushed the concept of God to the margins. To truly seek to renew our parishes and the world, we need to understand this shift and the impact on our mission. Join Alex for this talk as we unpack this journey from Christendom to Apostolic Mission.

Alex Chia works for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch in the Bishop’s Pastoral Office. He is married with 2 young children and is currently pursuing a Masters in Evangelization and Catechetics.

Growing in Holiness through the Holy Spirit – Fr Philip Suelzer CSJ

“Transformed people lead to Transformed parishes”.  A fundamental component of parish renewal is for each parishioner to grow in holiness. Fr Jacques Philippe writes that the “most fundamental question of the Christian Life is … how should we receive the grace of the Holy Spirit? How can we keep ourselves ever open to his action”? Fr Jacques writes that there are eight “attitudes and practices” that open us to the work of the Holy Spirit. These, he says, are “most important in guaranteeing a constant receptivity to the grace of the Holy Spirit”. Come to this workshop and learn what these eight are and how you can grow in holiness through them.

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, Fr Philip joined the brothers of Saint John in 2009 and has been in Christchurch since 2018.  He is currently assistant priest at Christchurch West and Catholic Chaplain for the Universities.  

Practical Tips for Sharing Jesus Christ – Cheryl Surrey  

Christ calls us to spread the good news of the Gospel. But if we’re honest, most of us find it difficult to share our faith with others. This workshop will look at the practicalities of evangelisation in two areas: how to make the gospel our story by learning how to share it with others, and, how we can foster praying with others in our faith journeys. This workshop will provide concrete opportunities to help us share the love of Christ in a more radical and fruitful way as we go about our everyday lives.

Cheryl Surrey, originally from Scotland, is a mother of three children living in Pukekohe with her husband Cameron. Cheryl works as Divine Renovation’s New Zealand Relationship Guide. She has a bachelor’s degree in theology and a masters in pastoral theology.

Transforming the Culture of Your Parish – Kyran Newell

What is culture and why is transforming culture so important for parish renewal? Come and discuss how a parish can enable and experience culture change through the Six Building Blocks for Change model: Leadership, Vision, Mission, Strategy, Structure and Measurement. The discussion will also touch on delivering culture transformation (from maintenance to mission) in a sustainable way that will continue into the future regardless of any leadership changes in the parish.

Kyran Newell is an SLT member in the Waimakariri Parish where transition from maintenance to mission has been in progress for just over two years.  Kyran has a professional background in strategy, change and leadership development and has been using that knowledge to support the Waimakariri SLT in its work.

Click here for Kyran Newall’s Presentation Slides

Towards becoming a Laudato Si’ Platform Diocese, Parish and Family – Sr Kathleen Rushton RSM (Facilitated Discussion)

Pope Francis is inviting the universal Church on a seven-year journey for healing our relationships with God, our neighbours and the Earth through the Laudato Si’ Platform which is based on his 2015 encyclical letter on care for our common home (https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/our-journey-together/). How does your family and parish community care for our common home? How do you engage and respond to the great social and environmental questions of our time?  Come to this facilitated discussion to find out more about the Laudato Si’ Goals and explore practical ways we can journey on the “path to renewal” together (LS 202).

Kathleen Rushton RSM, a parishioner of Christchurch North Parish, enjoys teaching, researching and writing to make sound biblical scholarship accessible and linked to everyday faith in order to hear “both the cry of earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’, 49) in God’s evolving, unfinished universe. She is learning about the Laudato Si’ Platform as a member of the Co-ordinating Committee of her congregation, Nga Whaea Atawhai Sisters of Mercy.

Proclaiming the Gospel to a New Generation: Growing Youth and Young Adult Outreach in the Parish – Catholic Youth Team

Every parish dreams of being a place where young people attend regularly, get involved and participate, fall in love with Jesus Christ, and grow as his disciple. How do we create this environment for young people and ensure that it becomes an ongoing part of our Parish life?

Youth and Young Adult ministry can be difficult to begin and importantly to sustain. Whether you already have an existing youth and young ministry, or are looking to begin, this workshop will give time for those attending to share their challenges and help explore some of the structures and tools essential to building a ministry with young people which is sustainable and fruitful.

Originally from Australia, James Bryant is the Manager of the Catholic Youth Team for the Diocese of Christchurch. He completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science and worked in retail management before feeling called to youth ministry. James in his 25th year in Youth Ministry, working as part of a retreat team (NET Australia), Diocesan Youth Coordinator (Toowoomba Australia) and in Parish Youth Ministry (Queensland and Christchurch). He holds a graduate certificate in Youth Ministry from BBI in Australia.

Breakout Session – Round 2. 1.45pm – 3.15pm

Engaging people for mission in your parish – Dan O’Rourke

One of the crucial questions facing our parishes at this time is how to increase our volunteers. The deeper question is how do we engage people for mission. How do we share the vision in a compelling way that motivates people to serve? How do we invest in our parishioners and help them discover their gifts and talents and encourage them to put them at the service of the mission of the parish? This keynote will look at ways your parish can engage it’s people for mission.

Please note that there has been a late change to our speaker line-up. Due to circumstances beyond our control, Anna Stuart is not able to join us for the Ablaze Conference.
While this is unfortunate, we are grateful to have Dan O’Rourke as a replacement who will deliver a keynote as well as the workshops that Anna was going to lead.

Dan O’Rourke is the President of the global Divine Renovation Ministry. Serving in that role since its founding, Dan has been privileged to support and grow an incredible team of leaders around the world. In just 5 years, Divine Renovation has grown from a ministry in the basement of a parish in Halifax, Canada to serving and supporting thousands of parishes in 36 countries and 7 different languages. Dan is based in Halifax, Canada where he lives with his wife Laura, their three busy sons, and a bernedoodle puppy.

Prayer and ongoing Conversion – Growing in Holiness– Fr Rick Loughnan

“Transformed people lead to Transformed parishes”.  A fundamental component of parish renewal is for each parishioner to grow in holiness. This workshop will look at this and focus on growing your prayer life through praying with Scripture in different ways, meditation and contemplation. Join Fr Rick as he helps you encounter Jesus Christ more deeply through the scriptures.     

Fr Rick has been a Priest for nearly 30 years and is currently Parish Priest of the Christchurch North Parish. He is passionate about helping people come to know Jesus more deeply.

Click here for Fr Rick’s Presentation Slides

Courses to Conversion to Discipleship – Alison Carroll

It is said that programs don’t make disciples; disciples make disciples. Through tools like Alpha, how do we lead people to conversion? How do we then help them grow as disciples in the parish. This workshop will explore some of these key questions and discuss the importance of having a pathway for people to become missionary disciples.

Alison is the Director for Formation in Faith and a member of the Parish Leadership Team for the Tongariro Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Hamilton. Through her role as Faith Formation Coordinator at the Parish of Tongariro Catholic she has witnessed the transforming power of Christ when people come to authentic faith in the Catholic Church.  She is passionate about parish renewal and helping people take a step on their faith journey.

“Mustering in the lost sheep” – How Parishes and Schools can collaborate to evangelise the school community – Fr John Adams, Ben Gorman and Megan Stewart

Catholic Schools in New Zealand have a quality reputation for delivering quality education and forming great leaders. Many of the students and whānau in our schools have weak links to parish life. We need to be deliberate, strategic and enthusiastic in mustering in these “lost sheep” to share the Kerygma. 

This workshop will provide some ideas for how parishes and schools can work collaboratively to share the joy of the Gospel. School families are ripe for the picking… but only true collaboration and investment from both school and parish will maximise our yield!

Fr John is a former teacher, current Parish Priest of St Peter Chanel Parish in Waimakariri and Vicar for Education for the Diocese of Christchurch.

Ben has been a secondary RE teacher and DRS. He is currently the Principal of St Joseph’s Primary School in Rangiora.

Megan has been a Primary School Director of Religious Studies and a Parish Schools Coordinator. She is currently teaching at St Joseph’s Primary School in Papanui and is an Across Schools Lead Teacher for the Christchurch Catholic Kāhui ako.

With Grace and Style – Encountering Jesus through the Liturgy –  Msgr Trevor Murray

As Pope Francis wrote recently in his Apostolic Letter, “DESIDERIO DESIDERAVI” the liturgy is “fundamental for the life of the Church”. This workshop is about encountering Jesus through the liturgy. It’s about ‘making connections’ – important connections; essential connections. These connections become powerful and transformative when we clothe them ‘in grace’ and ‘with style’. Using Pope Francis’ letter, Monsignor Trevor Murray will unpack how a parish might do this.

Monsignor Trevor Murray is a priest of the Diocese of Hamilton. He has been pastor of the Parish of Tongariro Catholic, Taupō, for the last seven years.

Creating Open Dialogue across Cultures in Parish Life through Art – Damian Walker

In 2020 Damien was commissioned by the New Zealand Bishops Conference to paint Ko Hāta Maria, te Matua Wahine o te Atua – New Zealand’s National Marian Image and the centrepiece for the National Shrine at St Mary of the Angels in Wellington. In his talk Damien will discuss his work with Bishops Conference and iwi on the painting and how it is possible create open dialogue and cross cultures through art. Additionally he will explore some practical ways parishes can use the beauty of Art and architectural design with colour as a crucial tool in New Evangelisation and revitalisation of a parish.

Damien Walker is a award winning artist and the founder and director of The Studio of Saint Philomena. With over 11 years’ experience, Damien’s work has taken him to Europe and he has spent time in Italy with top art restorers and conservators. He has also worked extensively with parishes across New Zealand and Australia. Part of his work involves consulting with parishes, giving them a bigger picture of the space they have or the potential that could be created whether a heritage listed church or a brand new building. Damien’s skills involve design, painting and gilding.

Breakout Session – Round 3. 4.00pm – 5.30pm

The Third Key in renewing your parish – Dan O’Rourke

The third key in renewing your parish has been identified by Divine Renovation as Healthy Leadership. A renewal of parish leadership practices is proving a key component to transforming parishes around the world. What is healthy leadership and why does it matter? This workshop will look at the key principals of healthy leadership in a parish setting. 

Please note that there has been a late change to our speaker line-up. Due to circumstances beyond our control, Anna Stuart is not able to join us for the Ablaze Conference.
While this is unfortunate, we are grateful to have Dan O’Rourke as a replacement who will deliver a keynote as well as the workshops that Anna was going to lead.

Dan O’Rourke is the President of the global Divine Renovation Ministry. Serving in that role since its founding, Dan has been privileged to support and grow an incredible team of leaders around the world. In just 5 years, Divine Renovation has grown from a ministry in the basement of a parish in Halifax, Canada to serving and supporting thousands of parishes in 36 countries and 7 different languages. Dan is based in Halifax, Canada where he lives with his wife Laura, their three busy sons, and a bernedoodle puppy.

Growing in Holiness – a practical opportunity to draw from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in praying with scripture – Kirsten Challies  

St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises have been a powerful tool for encountering Jesus Christ and growing to know, love and serve him more. In this practical session you will be led through a prayer experience drawn from the spiritual exercises, using a scripture from the Gospel of Luke.

Kirsten is a pastoral worker at the Catholic Cathedral parish is Christchurch. She is an experienced Spiritual Director and retreat giver.

Alpha as a tool to renew your parish – Carly Mulqueen

Fr James Mallon writes that every parish must decide on a tool to bring outsiders into the parish. Alpha has been used all around the world for many years and is one of the most successful evangelising programs in the Christian world today. Come to this workshop and find out more about Alpha including what is it, how does it work, why does it work and how to run a successful Alpha Program.

Carly is a pastoral associate for the St Peter Chanel Parish in the Waimakariri. With a focus on evangelisation, Carly has led many Alpha Programs in her parish over the last few years.  Carly is married to Wayne with two children.   

Click here for Carly Mulqueen presentation slides

Towards Experiencing a Synodal Parish – Kevin Gallagher, Joanne Hope and Mike Stopforth

Pope Francis invites us in our parishes to ‘Stop and Listen.’ On October 17th 2021, Pope Francis celebrated the opening of the Synod: “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission”. Pope Francis began a process of inviting the church to listen and reflect on how we are journeying together as a Church.

‘The Synod then offers us the opportunity to become a listening Church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen. To listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer. To listen to our brothers and sisters speak of their hopes and of the crises of faith present in different parts of the world …’

This workshop will offer you an experience of the synodal process as we reflect together on the question  

How am I experiencing listening, and being heard in my parish?

Small groups and parish renewal – Matt O’Connell  

As our parishes get bigger, they must also get smaller. One of the priorities in the Christchurch Diocese is strengthening community. It has been acknowledged that experiencing real and authentic community is important for all Christians but most especially for those who are new to your parish community. What are small groups and how do we start them are some of the key questions that will be explored in this facilitated discussion.

Matt O’Connell works for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch in the Bishop’s Pastoral Office. He is married with 2 children and enjoys reading, golf and cricket in his spare time.

Hospitality:  The servant, the stranger and the narrow gate – Sue and Wayne McTague

During this workshop we will share a little about our own experiences of hospitality as well as sharing wisdom we have gleaned from our own exploration of what it means to be a welcoming parish.    You will have an opportunity to talk with others and share practical ways of evangelising through the gift of hospitality.   Come along and find out what the servant, the stranger and the narrow gate have to do with hospitality. 

Wayne & Sue McTague have many roles -Husband/wife, parent, grandparent, friend, family member and colleague.   They have been earthquake refugees as their parishes merged and through all their experiences have discovered that hospitality is a great way to share the joy of the gospel. They are very ordinary Catholics who want to share the extraordinary experience of our relationship with our loving God.