“The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)
To become mission oriented requires a radical change of culture from a community that exists for Catholics to a movement orientated to a largely non-Christian community in the area.
Suggestions for Discussion
That we should set up an Evangelisation subcommittee to consider concrete proposals to make our parish more mission-oriented.
These might include:
- Setting up a ministry of individuals to welcome strangers entering the Church for Weekend Masses.
- Production of a leaflet explaining the Mass and welcoming particularly those who are not Catholics or who have lost contact with their faith.
- A monthly welcome Mass explaining what is going on in the Liturgy.
- Word Services linked with harvest festivals, carol services, flower services, healing services etc.
- A poster saying “All are welcome at this Church!”
- A monthly “Understanding Catholic Christianity” group for Parishioners and non-Catholic guests.
- Ways of using the premises for mission to the wider community: e.g. a meditation group; mother and baby playgroup and “messy church”; elderly persons’ social group.
- Catholic Alpha
Some of these proposals might turn out to be impracticable and other better proposals might emerge. To implement even some of them would require energising and, in some cases, training for parishioners with the time and talents to fulfil new roles.
Consideration might also be given to finding initiatives that could be developed ecumenically or in collaboration with other Catholic parishes in the neighbourhood.
Deacon Duncan Macpherson, 13 September 2018