Parish Administration Forum returns after several years

By Josh Low

Parish secretaries and volunteers across the state recently participated in the Parish Administration Forum in Hobart, held for the first time since before the COVID pandemic.

Held on 10 May, the Forum saw staff from the Archdiocese cover a range of topics with participants, who also had the opportunity to share about the various highlights and challenges each parish faces.

Archdiocesan Executive Director, Chris Ryan, said the event was important in the life of the Church in Tasmania.

Archdiocesan Executive Director Chris Ryan said the Forum sought to equip parish staff and volunteers with the necessary tools and knowledge for their roles. Photo: Josh Low

He added that the Forum allowed for staff from the Archdiocesan office to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with parish staff and communities.

“The Forum also provided the opportunity for Archdiocesan staff to impart information on key topics such as Safe Communities, work health and safety, and hear about the social impact of the Archdiocese of Hobart,” Mr Ryan said.

“They are a cohort that exist in our parishes all around the state and it is important that they have the tools and knowledge necessary to perform their roles.”

A range of topics was covered at the Forum, which received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. Photo: Josh Low

Mersey-Leven Parish Secretary Josefina Doctor, who has been in her role since 2021, said she enjoyed her first experience of the Parish Administration Forum.

She added that having come from a service role in the government sector, there were many things to consider in parish life which she has learned about over the past two years.

“It was beneficial to learn more about things like work health and safety, and guidelines for working with children – things which relate directly to the work we do in the parish like baptism preparation sessions or [sacramental preparation with] children.

“The Parish Administration Forum was good because then you get to see how the work you do in the parish, and its importance, is connected to the whole Archdiocese.

Mrs Josefina Doctor (far right) said it was good to see how her role relates to the work of the whole Archdiocese. Photo: Josh Low

For Denise Stronach, who volunteers at Circular Head Parish and travelled more than five hours to attend the Forum, making connections with people was what she found to be of great benefit.

“Having things explained to you and being able to ask questions and learn in person makes such a big difference to just being sent things online,” she said.

“The camaraderie here has also been really good. Most of the communication I’ve had with people has been via email or on the phone without having met many of them, so it was good to finally put faces to names.”

(L-R): Circular Head Parish volunteer Denise Stronach (left), Archdiocesan Parish Support Officer Alison Traynor and Central Tasmania Parish volunteer Ally Kelly. Photo: Josh Low

Mr Ryan said he was pleased to have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, adding that he is eager to continue fostering a regular and meaningful connection with parish staff and volunteers.

“[All participants have been] saying how beneficial the forum was and that they are looking forward to the next one.

“This may be via regular correspondence and newsletters, short video conference training sessions and future forums – I envisage that these will be run every 12 -18 months,” he said.

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