A message from Fr John

Posted on: 23/02/2021

Dear Friends

Good morning. Well it’s staying mild for the time being although the wind will certainly give freedom to the cobwebs.

As you see I have attached the minutes of last week’s Parish Forum meeting. You will note that there were plenty of ideas being batted around but we really need more parishioners to be involved in the envisioning of the parish given our ever-changing circumstances. If you have any ideas or comments at this stage, please drop an email to myself or Maureen. In the next couple of days I’ll send out John Griffins plan/programme/questionnaire for the next phase of our discussions. The next full meeting will be on 18 March but I suggest we have a more informal gathering and shaping of the agenda a week on Thursday - 4 March at 7.00pm - this will help us to maintain the momentum.

Two bits of business:

- thank you for all your generosity to the Food Bank but the need is even greater now - any tins or dried goods (not fresh) will be much appreciated

- I’m advised that if you want to make donations to Cafod or the Alzheimer’s Society, they can be Gift Aided by sending them directly
which is not possible if I send them via the parish - although any contribution by whatever means is welcomed

We are continuing to think and plan for the re-opening of churches as soon as we can

St Joseph, pray for us

Every blessing

Fr John


Parish Forum Meeting

7.00pm 18 February 2021

19 participants on 15 screens

John Griffin thanked Fr John for inviting him to the meeting and then gave a short presentation on the diocesan Hope in the Future programme and discussed the progress the Parish has made.

Our Journey so far:

  • Stage 1 – Three communities became one Parish with a strong identity whilst retaining 3 churches.
  • Stage 2 – A time of prayerful discernment, harvesting and sharing talents to build the Parish, including training eg. Finance, Admin, Catechesis resulting in Shared Leadership.
    • John felt that Holy Trinity Parish is an example of good practice in the Diocese.
    • Is there a pipeline for handing on the baton of leadership
    • Are the sub committees effective? This is key.
  • Stage 3 – Living the Eucharist. We are at this stage now. This has been interrupted by the pandemic.
    • Could a Zoom Mass be recorded and put on YouTube for those who can’t access it live.
  • Stage 4 – Proclaiming the Good News has been postponed until October. If we feel ready, we should carry on with our vision.
    • We need to be welcoming in our approach and become more involved in the liturgy.
  • Stage 5 – Sharing the Hope
    • Pope Francis in ‘Let us Dream' invites us all to do one extra thing. Bishop John says that Parishes should be a beacon of hope.


Development Suggestions

  • Moments of encounter rooted in prayer.
  • Do we need to add social media to our online presence?
  • Do we need to evangelise and not just concentrate on Catechesis?
  • Home – School - Parish links are vital. We need to engage with parents and cater for our missed generation
  • Schools need to feed into the Parish
  • Covid has brought to the fore that home is the key, with home schooling and Church at Home
  • Baptism – Do we need sessions for parents who are the child’s first teachers?
  • RCIA (Adult Journey of Faith) - Should churches in the Diocese come together? Whole Parish should be welcoming and pray for the candidates.
  • First Holy Communion – Is family Catechesis the way forward?
  • Confirmation – Now in Year 8 at a Deanery level.
  • Weddings – could couple preparation be at a Deanery level or by Zoom? St John Fisher, Kearsley, have a good programme
  • Funerals – Could the Bereavement Group reach out to families before the funeral?
  • Youth – could we consider the Faith in Action Award using a Home/School/Parish model?
  • Pope's Synod on Young People. Young people need a voice on the Leadership Team
  • Evangelisation – Consider Alpha or Sycamore courses online
  • Could we be more welcoming when people come to Mass? Would they then want to come back?
  • Formation Days – Could training be broken down into bite size chunks and be disseminated to the wider parish? Missionary Discipleship


Shared Reflection - John Griffin then invited participants into breakout groups to share their ideas and points for going forward

Group 1

  • We already welcome the child and family in church prior to baptism
  • We have welcomers/greeters at Mass
  • We have a Communications group. Do we need to organise a Parish Census and leaflet those in the area?
  • Technology has been good and should continue. When we get back to Mass in Church, could we share some of these Masses online?
  • We need to involve younger people more
  • We need to get back to where we were before the pandemic

Group 2

  • Good progress has been made. Team members benefitted from the Lay Leadership Course and sub groups eg. Liturgy, Formation, Finance, Admin, Social, Outreach and Communications are in place. After Covid do we need to re-market ourselves and develop a best practice programme?
  • The schools are central to worship. Maybe we have become too Mass centric. Do we need to develop other liturgies to involve and give a sense of belonging to young people?
  • It is hard to involve young people. We need to show them that they need God in their lives. We need to develop a Youth programme for all ages and stages of faith that will nurture those young in faith. We need to harness their skills and invite them to belong socially as well as going to Mass.
  • Could we begin our support for the young from Baptism onwards by supporting families?

Group 3

  • We have many positives; in particular, how the three church communities are working so well together
  • Zoom Masses and daily emails keep us together as a community during these times
  • The Bereavement Group is developing. Other outreach groups such as SVP, Ecology Team, Communications Group and support for CAFOD, Missio and Caritas are all ongoing
  • A major priority is to involve young people.
  • How can we reach out, especially to Year 11 and those in the 6th Form Colleges?
  • Possibly active involvement in the Lourdes Group, CAFOD and the Ecology Team
  • Further develop ecumenical links through Churches Together and encourage the Parish in the non-denominational work of the Bethany Food Bank.

The next steps led by John

  • Develop a Parish Mission Statement/Vision
  • Our motto - Sharing Faith, Giving Life - could be a starting point. Sister Joan, as part of the Hope in the Future team, has put some resources together on the Diocese website
  • Develop a Parish Mission Action Plan. Resources on the Diocese website
  • Develop Youth Programme
  • Deanery Confirmation Programme
  • Develop Environmental Programme

The Primary Schools are already involved in Laudato Si

Next meeting – 7.00pm Thursday 18 March 2021

Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment for the diocese, would be happy to come to a future meeting to look at engaging young people with environmental projects.

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