As I said in my homily for the Feast of the Epiphany, and amplified on the Third Sunday of the Year, in our parish of St Benet’s we believe that it is possible to strengthen the work of the Catholic church, in our part of the world, by participating in the “Alive in Faith” programme.
Certainly we do not know the future. But in practising our faith we have received the Christian virtue of Hope, and so we are enabled to talk about the future with confidence. At this time of the year, we have the best part of 2017 still before us and this year brings us some special opportunities within the church in our part of the world.
In the coming weeks, we shall be participating in the diocesan “Alive in Faith” programme in order to raise funds for the training of future priests. In other parts of the diocese, funds are also being raised for priests’ retirement; as a Benedictine parish (together with our neighbouring parish of Bungay) we aren’t participating in the ‘retirement’ part of the diocesan scheme because our community at Downside already makes provision for priests’ retirement.
However, we do need to play an active role in raising funds for the training of diocesan priests.
Whereas the number of vocations at Downside has recently been in decline, there are now at least ten seminarians in training to be priests for the diocese of East Anglia. This training costs around £30,000 per seminarian per year. Those with good memories will recall that our parish has already been served by at least one diocesan priest. Fr Simon was with us between 1995 and 2003 and, amongst many other duties, was responsible for the design of the sanctuary as we see it today.
In the future, we shall continue to be dependent upon the ministry of our diocesan priests and we are encouraged to support the appeal which will begin in earnest at the beginning of next month.
Further details will be handed out after Mass at the end of January and there will be plenty of ‘follow up’ within the parish. There is already a good deal of information about “Alive in Faith” and further details can be found by clicking on this link to the diocesan website. The programme has a great deal to offer us in the present and for the future. It can indeed be seen as a gift to the church and as a great opportunity to provide for the years to come.
We are planning for the appeal to start in St Benet’s on 05 February. The process will last just a few weeks, but the aim of “Alive in Faith” is to seek pledges covering your giving for the coming 5 years.
- Remember that our churches and clergy were provided by our predecessors.
- Bear in mind that future generations are dependent on what we give, today.
- Please be generous in your pledges!