In October 2021 Pope Francis asked all congregations to go on a journey together with the Church. Synods are called by the church when it wants to come together to pay special attention and give full consideration to an issue. In this case, the issue being considered is what it means for the Church to listen and for laity (this means people who are part of the Church but do not have formal roles such as Sisters or Priests – eg our Church community) and clergy to come together.

This process is called the Synodal Pathway.

Pope Francis has called all of us to be on that journey together and especially to reach out to those who feel distant from the Church. Through the Synodal Pathway we were asked to speak freely with each other about our experiences of and ideas and dreams for the Church. And importantly, we were asked to really listen to each other. That listening should take place in our Parish, ideally in person together so we can connect with each other and strengthen our own Parish community. However,  we were also asked to share our reflections so that the Church can listen to the laity and we will have a role in shaping the church.

It is a wonderful initiative and a wonderful opportunity.

All the parishes in the world have been asked to take part. Parishes feedback their reflections to the Dioceses and the Dioceses In turn feedback to the Vatican. Then there will be special sessions held in 2023 for all the Church leadership to discern on what the laity has shared.

However, it is also an opportunity for our own Parish and Diocese to listen to the views of the laity and to move forward together.

In Harpenden we held a series of meetings and conversations in November and December 2021 to fit with the Westminster Diocese timetable. We produced a write up which was shared with participants and then with the Diocese. The report was also given out in mass,  discussed at our Parish meeting and a copy of all the detailed feedback from meetings and submissions has been given to the Parish Council to share their response with the Parish.

In April 2022 Westminster Diocese shared its Bishops Report reflecting the input from the all its Parishes, link below. We are encouraged to read that the ideas and experiences from our Parish resonated with many others, and the Bishops report is very much in the spirit of the views shared in our own Parish.

The next step will be for all the England and Wales Dioceses to produce one national report which goes to the Vatican. When you hear this process, it is easy to think we are such a tiny part of so many voices, however, when all the voices produce a rich harmony, we can be encouraged to reflect the spirit of synodality is present in the process.

Westminster Diocese Bishops’ Synod Report – Diocese of Westminster

Bishops’ Report (

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The Parish Pastoral Council

Seeking Christ Together

The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) is responsible for developing the parish mission and strategy, investigating, reflecting, and reaching conclusions about pastoral matters and consulting with and making recommendations to the Parish Priest.

The PPC has a pivotal role within the parish, following the ‘maintenance to mission’ principles of ‘Divine Renovation‘, and is comprised of people across the adult age range who wish to use their God-given skills and talents to help the parish achieve its mission. 

Formed in 2021, the Pastoral Council affords every parishioner a unique opportunity to make a difference and help shape the future of the parish. 

In the quest to lead the parish to become even more open, welcoming, and inclusive, the journey started with the challenge of reading Fr James Mallon’s book ‘Divine Renovation’ and the setting up and running of an initial Alpha Course. There followed extensive planning and mapping out of the way forward for our parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, the construction and delivery of the parish survey, analysing the returns and designing the most effective method of results presentation to the parish community.

In tandem with the above, the Mission Development Team (MDT) identified and defined the number and structure of proposed groups needed to deliver the objectives. It consulted with parishioners, and another parish further down the road on its journey, to ensure it was on the right path. The PPC has a strategic, spiritual and pastoral role working in conjunction with the other existing groups: the MDT, Finance & Premises and Communications, and will look to form the following teams: Mission, Growing in Faith, Family & Youth, Welcoming, Operations and Events Coordination.

You Can Help Make a Difference

The opportunity to help make a difference is open to all adult parishioners. The Pastoral Council is formed of twelve representatives covering all age groups.   Eight members, representing different areas of parish life, are chosen and appointed by the Parish Priest, with the remaining four members being chosen by parishioners during a nomination and election process.

Elected and Appointed Members serve for a three-year term of office commencing from the announcement of their appointment/election at the annual Open Parish Meeting (OPM), as follows:

Cycle 1 – Appointment of four new members and Election of 4 new members

Cycle 2 – Appointment of four new members

Cycle 3 – No Appointments/Elections

  • To View the full PPC Terms of Reference Please Click Here
  • To View the Minutes of the February 2022 Meeting Please Click Here
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