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Gathered Together

Gathered Together

Story By: Bishop Ken Howell, Bishop of Toowoomba. June 2024

Ever since I became Bishop, I have wanted to gather the priests together so that I might get to know them better and also that we might consider the important things concerning our future. We started with the question: what do the priests of Toowoomba Diocese need to discuss? This question was asked of the Council of Priests and all members of the clergy as a lead up to our time together on Wednesday and Thursday 15-16 May. These reflections became the basis of our discussions.

We were very fortunate that Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ, Congregation Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph (and originally from Allora), came to guide our deliberations. Sr Monica led us along a pathway like that used in Rome for the Synod (last year and this year). In this way, every priest was listened to as their wisdom was shared with each other. This kind of synodal listening also happens in the spirit of prayer, so that we can ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and reflections.

A significant question for me was to ask: what do we need to do so that we can minister to this vast Diocese in the next five years? During this time, a number of priests that we rely on at the moment will have moved into retirement. This led us to further ask: how do we minister to the West and do we need to make changes to how we minister in the city of Toowoomba?

For me, it was wonderful to listen to the wisdom of both our younger and more senior clergy. It was good that we could be together to pray, reflect, listen, and share as the presbyters of the Diocese. I found myself marvelling at the commitment of our priests to the Diocese and its people over so many faith-filled years of dedication.

We will continue to reflect on our discussions, and these will lead us towards a Diocesan Synod in the future. For now, please continue to pray for our priests and occasionally to thank them for their good work.