I think we can now safely say that the Churchbox series of email messages has come to an end. Our new web site has the facility to send such messages to all those who are on our parish database. Of course we do need parishioners to sign up to the parish database. So if you are viewing the web site and are a member of St Clements parish do sign up.
The new web site also has a blog facility.
So we have returned to church. Made it for the Saturday 6pm Mass. Good to be there, to see some familiar faces. Quite a strange setting. The grouped benches cutting down capacity to a safe 70. Some like me in masks. Communion single file, distanced, receiving at arms length. Step to one side, remove mask, consume host, replace mask, return via side aisle. Still a work in progress. But I felt quite peaceful as I left.
The question haunting me during lockdown was to what sort of church would I return? More precisely was I content with the church I had left (physically speaking)?
I guess my feelings chime with the strapline “from maintenance to mission” of the Divine Renovation programme.
If we are not careful, a parish can be full of splendid activities but in practice they are all
aimed at continuing the status quo. And if you are deemed suitable for doing a job, then it becomes difficult to step aside from it: and for those observing it can seem that a small group of ageing people are running everything.
The Covid19 pandemic has revealed a weakness in our pastoral structures as well as our age profile. Over seventies can’t be stewards for the reopening. My recollection is that at a pre closure weekday mass under seventies were a distinct minority. We do have to find a way of allowing younger souls to take on leadership roles; even if it means saying in general terms no one stays in a particular role for more than five years. We need to
encourage people to pass on their knowledge and expertise to prepare new leaders. This would lead to constant innovation and dynamism. The danger of not doing this is that we may reach a situation when those in ministry positions are no longer able to continue due to ill health.
The tricky question is do people want to take part? And if few people do take part, why? The answer could lie in the response to - what do people see themselves taking part in?
What is its purpose? What does it see itself doing in the church’s overall mission?
In italics below is our Vision Statement. It would be interesting to get reactions to that statement. When was it developed? How well do we meet its objectives? Do we think it remains relevant? How would we rewrite it, if at all?
This weekend a young man was ordained priest for our diocese. (He had a website to cover his ordination and the immediate follow up of masses). During the bishop’s homily- exhortation I heard the following:
“We are all in the one business of proclaiming Christ to the world”. He was addressing the entire people, whatever their specific role within the church.
Perhaps we all have to take up the bishops remarks. And take the necessary initiatives in our own ecclesial surroundings, the parish.
The Existing Parish Vision Statement: some thoughts
As a parish community we aim to obey, with all our fellow Christians, the Lord's command
to love our Creator and all people.
(That’s a serious commitment to recognise that we share with other Christians the Saviour’s command to fulfil the greatest command of the old law. Love the Lord your God with your whole heart and mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself)
Inspired by this love and through prayer and the Sacraments we aim to grow in our understanding of our Christian responsibilities in our lives.
(We are called into relationship with the God who loves us and has made this clear in sending His Son Jesus to live and die among us. Prayer, communication with God, is the basis. Within our community setting Sacraments suitably explained and embraced assist our growth.) (That growth also requires scripture and teaching(formation))
We commit ourselves, working together, to build a welcoming community in which everyone will be recognised and to which all will contribute, according to their call from God, in whatever way they are able
(Commitment, collaborative working, the welcoming community, recognition of talents. All set in the context of the God who is with us) (A taste of the early Christian community and /or ‘from each according to his means: to each according to his necessity’)
We will strive to be sensitive and respond to the needs of all.
(Identifying needs is key.)(What about a model of responsibility and reliance on God’s help?)
We pray that all our liturgy will be a celebration of our witness to Jesus Christ as Lord, the Light of the World.
(Amen!) (How do we bring that witness into our liturgy?)
Advice from a Modern Saint
If you pray without serving, your prayer will be in vain.
If you serve without praying, your serving will be in vain. Go forward. Pray and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit.
St Theresa of Calcutta(Kolkata)