In preparation for the next Synod of the Church in 2023, the whole membership of the Church has been invited to express their views on the issues the Church is facing, what should be done about them, and how we should develop as Christians.
The start of this process is to gather the views of individuals and parishes, bring them together, and pass them forward as a Diocesan Submission.
Parish Submission Produced and Delivered
Our Parish Representative for the preparation of our submission to the Diocese is Neville Kyrke-Smith.
In February, Neville delivered our Parish Submission, shown below, based on the four ZOOM meetings and two face-to-face meeting to discuss the “Ten Questions”, shown at the bottom of the page.
Looking to the future, Neville agreed to produce an “Action Plan” for our consideration – as part of our Annual Parish Meeting, held on 18 May. The aim of this is to build on the things we are doing well and address those areas where we feel we are not doing as much as we should.
The text of Neville’s proposals to the Parish Annual Meeting, are shown below. And we have first posted the text of Neville’s verbal presentation to those present at the Parish Meeting.
St Benet’s, Beccles
Text of Presentation by Neville Kyrke-Smith
Parish Annual Meeting;
18 May 2022
Neville reported that the meeting on the Diocesan Submission at the Cathedral had been positive, and our views had been well received. Further discussions had been held during a break-out Deanery group, looking at what we could all learn and what action we should be taking to move our parish forward.
There was a clear need to continue to make our “Welcome” at the back of the church real and meaningful, but appropriately discrete at the same time. We must remember the need to prepare to celebrate the Mass fully, as it is the “Source and Summit” of our worship.
A shared concern, in all parishes, was the low response from the younger generations; there is a real need to get them involved. The engagement at the Liturgy was questioned and the need for deeper understanding, through faith formation (catechism), was emphasised. It is good that we in St Benet’s are working with the school towards reinstating the “Children’s Liturgy” and also the “Family Mass”. We recognise that more must be done with parents, grandparents, and children.
Neville said that it is not all bad news! Our wide-ranging charitable works show us to be outward looking – living and demonstrating our faith by our actions. Our greeters, our readers, our altar servers, our music, and our homilies all do us proud.
However, there was a widespread “nervousness” when talking about our Faith and our practice of it; frequent references to “child abuse” and “impossible beliefs” put many of us on the defensive. This could be attributed to our own lack of education and knowledge, as our own “R. E.” had probably stopped at secondary school level.
Fr Martin said he was keen to get “Catechesis” underway and it is hoped a confirmation course will start this winter, to complement the “Children’s Liturgy” and the school’s involvement.
For adults, it is planned to take up an offer from a parishioner to host a meeting, at the end of June, to discuss what we feel we want to learn. For instance, “What Actually Happens at Mass” was one suggested topic. It was pointed out that there is a wide range of learning aids available on the Internet
NKS added that a recognition by Pope Francis that the ‘ministry of Catechists’ has been created within the wider Church, which will give important recognition to this vocation.
NKS thanked everyone present for their engagement and expressed his gratitude to all parishioners for their contributions. There is a lot to build on and a fuller action plan will be developed in consultation with our parishioners and, of course, with our new parish priest.
Synodal Pathway Discussions and Summary.
Highlights and possible Action Points.
St Benet’s, Beccles, Parish AGM.
Wednesday 18th May 2022
The summary of the main points made during discussions has been available at the back of St Benet’s and on the parish website, https://saintbenetsbeccles.org/synod/
The Diocesan website also has a link to the summary Synodal Pathway input https://www.rcdea.org.uk/synodal-pathway/ and a Diocesan Synodal Pathway Feedback Day was held at St John’s Cathedral, Norwich, on Saturday 14th May.
As was recognised by Bishop Alan Hopes, and the Synodal Pathway staff within the Diocese, there was not enough time for intensive exchanges and meetings as the time allocated was short and we were still coping with Covid restrictions regarding meeting. However, as at St Benet’s, it was agreed that the most positive aspect of the discussions was that many parishes had found the discussions helped them recalibrate and re focus on what they could be doing with and for the people. An Action Plan could be developed now at parish level, in particular regarding reaching out to the marginalised, the suffering, the needy and those who had fallen away from the Church.
We summarised our parish submission under the headings of Communion, Participation and Mission. Please refer to the full submission, but we can now look to develop an Action Plan with Fr Martin in some immediate areas and then, in due course, working with the new Parish Priest. Our sincere gratitude to all who have provided important and valued input so far.
Some of the points raised and suggestions made are included in the abbreviated version below.
- Encouraging quiet, prayer and devotion before Mass. Gentle organ music is already being played now before Mass.
- The importance of the ‘welcome’ to people at the back of church is invaluable and a communion with the people. The Catholic Church is open and all are welcome – first timers and returnees.
- Devotion and engagement at Mass are to be encouraged. There is a real thirst for prayer.
- How can we promote the Sacraments more focussing on the beauty and wonder of the Real Presence of Christ and encourage use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
- We asked how we can encourage ourselves and each other to pray more, in the home, in families and in everyday life. Simple prayers, Grace, the rosary, prayers after bible reading etc? We have to recognise that God gives us opportunities daily to remain in his blessings.
- It was agreed that more should be done to enhance the Liturgy and that the altar servers should be encouraged in their devout and dignified roles.
- An explanation of what happens at Mass, or a short series of explanations, could be useful, focussing on the Real Presence of Our Lord.
- The choir and music could be further built upon with new choir members sought.
- The homilies of Fr Martin and Deacon Tony are appreciated by many and provide food for thought, prayer and action.
- As stated, the warm welcome at the back of the church is engaging and must continue, with a mention of tea & coffee afterwards for those who wish to chat and meet people.
- We need to do more to follow up with people and also to engage with parishioners who have stopped coming to Mass. Could we reach out best through individual friends and contacts, renewing parish visiting, inviting people to social events or special services? Unpaid lifts to church could be offered to more people.
- It was agreed that inviting people individually works best when encouraging participation and involvement. Announcements, emails or invitations in newsletters are all useful but the personal approach is best.
- We also need to just invite people to church – to come to be before God – and offer a good welcome, support and friendship. Mid-week Masses, Saturday morning Mass – followed by Exposition and Benediction with the Sacrament of Reconciliation available – and Holy Hours, the Forty Hours, plus rosary prayer groups, can be further developed and promoted.
- The social side of the parish should be built back up, in a spiritual and spirited way; with pilgrimages, outings, pub visits, and wine tastings. The social aspect is vital.
- Meetings and groups could be discussed further, including rosary groups, social groups, a bereavement group (perhaps better ecumenical) a youth meeting and a young family activity group.
- Participation is also deepening and sustaining the faith and outreach in mission and activity is vital. The involvement of parishioners in the School for Peace fundraising and other charitable work, as individuals, shows how people are engaging and living their faith.
- We need to inspire a deeper encounter with the Risen Lord and encourage younger members, more children and families from different backgrounds.
- It was acknowledged that a good number of individuals engage in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians Together or are Town Pastors, but more could be done ecumenically.
- We need to work more as a team with improved communication as we are not a total team. The difficulty of getting people together was highlighted, across different Masses. We could develop more small teams, as well as individuals doing all the good work they do.
- There are good catechetical courses and prayer material online, which we could promote and link to in courses, and the use of social media should be developed, linked to the church. We need some imaginative technology to help get messages across. (Fr Martin will comment on catechetical sessions offered.)
- An ‘Enquirers’ course was suggested again and maybe a ‘Landings’ course, to encourage those who have stopped coming to return.
- It was commented that there is a deep spiritual thirst and hunger. We should build on the positive in the parish and be challenged by the Gospel message.
- With support of Congo School for Peace, Mary’s Meals and Aid to the Church in Need there is good engagement with charitable outreach and mission – faith in action. However, there is more that can be done in the mission of the Church. We can develop more in solidarity with the poor, persecuted and needy. Involvement with local food banks and neighbourhood actions, following the help for the homeless some years ago, can be further developed. The charities’ stall on Beccles market in the past has already been revived and it is good to be engaged in this way.
- How can we share our faith and encourage others more? We are not good at handing on the Faith – there are few young families at church – but, whilst the parish is becoming a diocesan parish, there will be challenges, changes and opportunities to engage in mission more and reach out in love to all.
- It was agreed that a real issue here is handing on the Faith to our children. Many of our children and grandchildren find church boring. The Children’s Liturgy or Family Mass, with schoolchildren taking part, can be inspiring and engaging for adults and children alike.
- Formation is fundamental. We need the Holy Spirit! A lot of people last studied and learnt about the Faith when they were Confirmed. What can we do now to grow in faith?
- Vocations are not just to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life, but Pope Francis speaks about many vocations – including catechists. It was agreed vocations are not just for the ordained – we are all called in one way or another.
Thanks to all involved once again; there are lots of ideas and a real energy. In a spirit of charity, we can witness the Faith and hope of Christ in different ways – through word and action, teaching and doing. A lot of activity takes place outside of the parish and church, but we should do more together based on prayer, in love and action for all. Founded on prayer we can witness in faith and action to Christ, as ‘a Eucharistic community’, acting and living out our faith from the sacramental heart of the Church. Through catechesis and prayer we can proclaim and live the Faith!
The church building is open – and all sorts of people come to pray or light a candle; people come for faith. We can invite more people in, to know the fullness of the love of God.
18 May 2022
St Benet’s Beccles.
Synodal Pathway Discussions and Summary
Summary for submission
The following is a summary of the main points made during discussions. These points do not carry all that was said and quite naturally there was not a consensus on every point.
As requested, our submission is under headings of Communion, Participation and Mission.
In a booklet ‘The ultimate relationship’ produced by Catholic Christian Outreach, these words from Pope Benedict XVI are carried, by way of encouragement and invitation:
“If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed… do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”
This summary is presented in a spirit of humility to help us think how we can better open ourselves, our church and our local community to Christ.
The most important element is spiritual – being at Mass before Our Lord, receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
We will think of ways of encouraging quiet, prayer and devotion before Mass – speaking to Our Lord. Suggestions included bells ringing to summon the faithful 15 minutes before Mass to encourage people to arrive in plenty of time with gentle organ music being played for about 10 minutes before the main Masses. It was also thought that a more engaging layout by the church porch to ‘welcome’ people could be discussed and agreed upon, as – see below – the ‘meeters and greeters’ are much appreciated. We can encourage dignity, genuflection or deep bow to Blessed Sacrament, prayerful silence before Mass and reflection & thanksgiving afterwards.
We need to examine further how can we promote the Sacraments more, focussing on the beauty and wonder of the Real Presence of Christ and encourage use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was agreed that we had to let people know that God’s forgiveness is for all – whatever they may have been through in their lives – and that the Catholic Church is open and that they are welcome. Guidance for newcomers, visitors and returning parishioners concerning Mass and receiving Holy Communion could be provided by way of a welcoming pamphlet – maybe included as an insert in an updated parish handbook.
We asked how we can encourage ourselves and each other to pray more, in the home, in families and in everyday life. Simple prayers at the beginning and end of the day, grace before and after meals, the rosary, prayers after bible reading etc can be encouraged more. Prayer – personal and corporal – for the Holy Spirit, devotion to Our Lady and devotions are core. We have to think how we can be in a constant state of prayer, no matter how busy we are, turning to God and acting on faith. It means getting in touch with God in our hearts and being attached to God in all we do. It means staying spiritually awake and growing in holiness each and every day. Remaining faithful means we align our thoughts with God’s thoughts, our will to his will.
We have to recognise that God gives us opportunities daily to remain in his blessings: daily Mass (which might require personal sacrifices or a new work schedule that God is happy to obtain for you), Christian music, praying at the tabernacle in church, making use of the Rosary and other special prayers, watching TV shows and movies that build up our spirits, attending prayer meetings or Small Christian Community gatherings, studying the Bible, and … the opportunities are endless.
It was agreed that more should be done to enhance the beauty and reverence of the Liturgy and that the altar servers, whose commitment is much appreciated, should be further supported with training and encouragement. Ritual is integral to the Liturgy and an explanation of what happens at Mass, or a short series of explanations, could be useful. Fr Martin could do a short course over a number of homilies on what happens – and the symbolism – at the Mass, focussing on the Real Presence of Our Lord. Such teaching homilies could also present an opportunity to encourage participation at Mass, including saying responses audibly, singing the hymns more and saying ‘Amen’ when receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
The choir and music could be built upon and reinvigorated with new choir members sought, perhaps first of all being invited to informal singing sessions. This must be discussed and reviewed with all those already so committed and involved in order to agree a good way forward.
The homilies of Fr Martin and Deacon Tony are appreciated by many and provide food for thought, prayer and action.
It was agreed that the welcome at the back of the church from the team of ‘meeters and greeters’ was warm and engaging. Visitors and new parishioners have said how they have felt welcomed. It has been good in recent ‘Covid times’ to get to know people, with warmth and the offer of friendship. Engaging with people handing out hymn books and newsletters must continue, with a gentle mention of tea & coffee afterwards for those who wish to chat further and meet people.
A small number of people acknowledged that they found it natural to remain disengaged from some aspects of parish life. Perhaps we need to be more sensitive in the way we ask or make announcements, not leaving everything up to the ordained ministers. Some aspects of our ‘follow-up’ could be improved and we need to find ways of engaging with parishioners who have stopped coming to Mass. There are many different reasons why people stop coming to church, not just to do with liking or not liking the liturgy and music; some of the main reasons have been Covid related, infirmity, illness, loss of someone close, relationship breakup or simply getting out of the habit. Could we reach out best through individual friends and contacts, renewing parish visiting, inviting people to social events or special services and ensuring visits to the elderly, infirm and housebound? Unpaid lifts to church could be offered to more people.
It was agreed that inviting people individually works best when encouraging participation and involvement in the various groups and activities which are not well enough known, for example: becoming a Parish Visitor, being a welcomer, offering to read, flower arranging, making coffee, joining a prayer group, taking part in the Scripture Circle, joining ecumenical outreach endeavours, attending the St Benet’s Social Club, helping at the ‘Friday market’ charity stall etc. People are worried about committing and this has to be recognised and a level of commitment agreed upon in a flexible way, as the level of confidence has gone down during recent periods of isolation. Announcements, emails or invitations in newsletters are all useful but the personal approach is best. It would be good to have a meeting of all the organisers of different groups and activities so that we can discuss coordinated action to help, reach and engage people.
We also need to just invite people to church – to come to be before God – and offer a good welcome, support and friendship. Mid-week Masses, Saturday morning Mass – followed by Exposition and Benediction with the Sacrament of Reconciliation available – and Holy Hours, the Forty Hours, plus rosary prayer groups, can be further developed and promoted. Solemn Benediction on occasions would also be helpful, inviting the Bishop from time to time.
The social side of the parish should be built back up, in a spiritual and spirited way; with pilgrimages to Walsingham, local churches, outings, pub visits, and wine tastings. The social aspect is vital. Meetings and groups could be discussed further, including rosary groups, social groups, a bereavement group (perhaps better ecumenical) a youth meeting and a young family activity group. Engaging and encouraging the faith, ‘seeing Christ in each other,’ is key. Many communal activities are still in abeyance following the pandemic.
Participation is also deepening and sustaining the faith; outreach in mission and activity are vital. The involvement of parishioners in the School for Peace fundraising and other charitable work, as individuals, shows how people are engaging and living their faith.
Comments were made about how we need to inspire a deeper encounter with the Risen Lord and encourage younger members, more children and families from different backgrounds.
It was acknowledged that a good number of individuals engage in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, but that not much is done jointly by us as a community. Christians Together has 18 members who meet quarterly and is lively. The outreach work of groups helping people, including the Town Pastors, supported by prayer, is a witness through participation to the love of Christ for all. More could be done and built upon ecumenically, not just amongst the clergy in the Ministers’ Fraternal. It was suggested that Holy Week is a good time to do more and witness together.
The question about being a ‘team’ raised issues. It was agreed that we need better communication and coordination of resources within the parish; we have some teamwork, but we are not a total team. Many individuals do a lot and a good number of individuals do not do much that is widely visible. The difficulty of getting people together was highlighted, across different Masses and Mass times.
Perhaps ‘team’ is not the right word as we are neither a business nor a football team, but a community and a people of prayer, love and action. We can encourage more involvement and participation. Some people want to talk and be involved and others do not. Therefore, we have to be flexible in what we do. It was thought that we could develop more small teams, as well as encouraging individuals in doing all the good work they do.
It was asked how we can communicate better? There are good catechetical courses and prayer material online, which we could promote and link to in courses, and the use of social media should be developed, linked to the church. We need some imaginative technology to help get messages across.
An ‘Enquirers’ course was suggested and also the successful ‘Landings’ course, as part of the Deanery or Diocese, to encourage those who have stopped coming to church to return. We have to think flexibly and act lovingly in a spirit of openness. We should also consider using a good simple Catholic pamphlet for parishioners to give to friends – to invite them to Mass or a social event – and to welcome people back.
It was commented that there is a deep spiritual thirst and hunger. We should build on the positive in the parish and be challenged by the Gospel message.
With support of Congo School for Peace, Mary’s Meals and Aid to the Church in Need there is good engagement with charitable outreach and mission – faith in action. However, there is more that can be done in the mission of the Church. We can develop more in solidarity with the poor, persecuted and needy. Involvement with local food banks and neighbourhood actions, following the help for the homeless some years ago, can be further developed. Even as the Synodal Pathway discussion took place, there was a revival of activities, post-pandemic, and these can be built upon together in mission.
We will continue to ask how can we share our faith and encourage others more? It was recognised that we are not good at handing on the Faith — as reflected in the fact there are few young families at church. The prospect of the parish becoming a diocesan parish this year means there will be challenges and changes, but we must seize the initiative to engage in mission more and reach out in love to all.
Many of our children and grandchildren find church boring. The Children’s Liturgy or Family Mass, with schoolchildren taking part in the readings, can be reintroduced now, following the pandemic. It is helpful for the children to be led out of church for their own liturgy and then to be brought back for the Offertory and to be with their parents for Communion. The whole church environment needs to be more inspiring – for adults and children alike. Revitalised music, good liturgy, inspiring homilies and a warm welcome will all help.
There is gratitude for the open expression of views received in this synodal consultation process, done in a spirit of charity. It was agreed that parishioners are generally ready to listen to one another, to give feed-back and to contribute to discussions of important issues affecting church life.
The witness of the Faith in different ways through word and action, teaching and doing, can be built upon further. It was recognised that a lot of activity takes place outside of the parish and church, but we should do more together based on prayer, in love and action for all.
We know we are a missionary Church, as Our Lord commanded and as we are sent out at the end of Mass. We need to be missionaries in our own lives and together. The challenge is how can we co-ordinate more and do things together?
Formation is fundamental. We need the Holy Spirit! In order to hand on the Faith, we need to know it through catechism and formation and a deepened life of prayer. A lot of people last studied and learnt about the Faith when they were Confirmed, or maybe early in Secondary School. What can we do now to grow in faith?
It was noted that ‘Vocations’ to the priesthood and religious life are spoken of occasionally, but Pope Francis speaks about many vocations – including catechists – and the Diaconate has not been promoted. Some parishioners have spoken about women deacons and also about more married priests, not just ex-Anglicans or Eastern rite Catholics. It was agreed vocations are not just for the ordained – we are all called in one way or another. How can we encourage each other to see that we are all called by God, in diverse and complementary roles, as part of the Church, the body of Christ?
We recognised that we are frightened or embarrassed of trying to pass on the Faith, but we cannot leave it to God or others to pass it on. Founded on prayer we can witness in faith and action to Christ, as ‘a Eucharistic community’, acting and living out our faith from the sacramental heart of the Church. Mass, prayer, time before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament remain at the heart of our activity, for we are a Eucharistic people trying to live out and witness to Christ. We listen to the word of God and empowered by the Sacrament we are sent out at the end of Mass as missionaries.
The beauty of the church building and its’ history should also be used to teach people more about our Catholic Faith and the treasures we hold; the tabernacle, the altar, the rood beam, the Stations of the Cross, the statues, windows, and the layout of the church are all teaching aids. An updated guide should be produced and an occasional guided tour given.
Focussing on the wonderful outpouring love of God through Christ, with Our Lady praying at the foot of the Cross, we can offer the hope of the Resurrection in a broken world. Through catechesis and prayer we can proclaim and live the Faith! The church building is open – and all sorts of people come to pray or light a candle; people come for faith. We can invite more people in, to know the fullness of the love of God.
Tuesday 23 November
This is the text of the short presentation on
“The Synodal Pathway”
given by Neville Kyrke-Smith on 21 November 2021
Thank you Fr Martin for asking me to say a few words on The Synodal Pathway.
My first thought when I heard about this pathway was – “where are we going?” – with all of this. I even asked Bishop Alan Hopes the same question and, rather disconcertingly, he replied: “Neville, I really don’t know.”
Yet, Pope Francis said in his inaugural homily at the opening of the Synodal Path:
“The Gospels frequently show us Jesus “on a journey”; he walks alongside people and listens to the questions and concerns lurking in their hearts. He shows us that God is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality, but walks ever at our side. He meets us where we are, on the often rocky roads of life. … As we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves – all of us, Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity – whether we, the Christian community, embody this “style” of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity. Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: “It’s useless” or “We’ve always done it this way”?”
Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together. Let us look at Jesus. First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life. Encounter, listen and discern.”
The Ten Questions we have before us – which are attached below, and which I know a good number of you have already read and thought about – are to help us reshape our journey as individuals and as a parish community, feeding ideas and replies to the wider Church. These will be looked at in sessions in the coming months, in the New Year. I will not go into detail about the outline sessions and dates in this talk, but it is proposed to have five “meetings” via Zoom – grouping two questions at a time together – and two group sessions in person. More details will be published before long.
I think we all have had different journeys of faith, but we never arrive in this mortal life – and we are called by a loving God to do more. In particular, there is a huge challenge before us, as we emerge into the light of these post-Covid times, to witness to the Hope of Christ.
At the opening Mass for the Synodal Pathway in East Anglia, Bishop Alan Hopes spoke of:
- Communion – Communio, the whole pilgrim people of God…towards our encounter with Christ, with whom we are united in Mass, and with all the people of the Church. Our Bishop said we need to listen to what God desires for us and for all the world.
- Participation – the Synodal Path is addressed to all, including those whose lives have not been touched by Christ, or to those who have left or been hurt by the Church. Bishop Alan emphasised that each one of us has a unique vocation – each one of us is a member of the body of Christ, with different gifts. We are called to active participation; we cannot leave it to others.
- Mission – inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, every Christian is called to be a missionary and to engage with all. The Papal vison is that the Church needs to change in order to live out the mission. We are called to pray, reflect and discuss.
Bishop Alan prayed that the Holy Spirit may inspire us and called us all to be faithful and attentive, with discernment, to live and proclaim the Gospel in our world.
I hope that by one means or another we will all be able to participate and take part along this Pathway – it is a path of love and life, as we seek to let Christ work more fully through us in communion with the Universal church.
Pope Francis concluded his initial homily:
“May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.”
21 November 2021
Parish Introduction to the Synodal Pathway
The initial phase for our diocese has now been mapped out more clearly: our parish representative, Neville Kyrke-Smith, will be speaking to us after the 10.30 am Mass on Sunday 21st November – so we can begin to see what will be involved.
The “Ten Questions” for our consideration are in church and here on the parish website; individual responses can be made directly to the diocesan email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) which will also supply special forms for the purpose from December onwards.
Our collective response as a parish can be articulated through a series of brief online evening meetings, supplemented by two face-to-face meetings (planned for Friday mornings, following the mid-morning Mass), in the New Year – in collaboration with Neville & Fr Martin. This initial phase of the Synodal Pathway lasts until 20th March next year, so as to offer plenty of time for reflection and collaboration for a collective response which could have an influence upon the future of our parish going forward.
01 November – The Synodal Pathway
The first steps are the “Ten Questions” which have been posed for our consideration.
Replies to the ten questions, and other suggestive contributions, need to be forwarded to the Diocese before the end of January (or reply direct to email@example.com).
Neville Kyrke-Smith, our parish representative for the Synodal Pathway, will explain further in the coming weeks.
TEN QUESTIONS TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE PARISHES,
AS THE DIOCESE EMBARKS ON THE SYNODAL PATHWAY
How welcoming is our parish?
How do we embrace and reach out as a parish, and as individuals, to the community with us each Sunday – in person or via live-stream – as well as those who are still anxious about returning, those who seem to have fallen away, and those enquiring and coming to us as newcomers?
How welcoming do people find us?
How good are we at listening?
Our world is full of noise and opinion; full of people making their voices heard, and those who feel that they go unnoticed. Are we good listeners?
Do we feel listened to?
How do we learn to listen well – to each other, to the wider world, to God himself?
How good are we at communicating?
Do we feel able to share our thoughts and ideas openly with each other?
Are we living out our baptismal vocation, ready to speak the truth, in love, when necessary?
Does this include social media?
How well does the Church’s liturgy inspire a deeper encounter with the Risen Lord?
Does the Sunday Mass bring me closer to God, and enable me to be fed by Him?
When I leave the Mass, what do I take out to the wider world?
Does my personal prayer life bring me closer to God and connect me with the Church?
When I pray, for what do I give thanks to God? – and what do I ask of Him?
How well do I understand and participate in the mission of the Church?
Do I feel that I am playing my part, and pulling my weight, in the life and mission of my parish, the diocese, and the universal Church? Or is that somebody else’s job?
How do I respond to the Lord’s call to witness to the Gospel?
Do I keep my life of faith to myself, or do I share it with others in word or deed? What would help me to do that better?
How well do we engage with the wider world?
Do we engage with those around us: with our local community, with the life of our country, and our world?
Do we believe that the Church truly has something to offer the world at large? Or are we too focussed on ourselves?
How good is our relationship with other Christian traditions?
What is our relationship like with our brothers and sisters in other Christian traditions?
Do we listen to each other?
What can we learn from them? – and what can they learn from us?
How well do we work as a team in our parish?
How is leadership exercised and experienced in our parish?
Are there positive ways in which we help to participate in the life and mission of the Church?
What are the fruits of this collaboration?
What are the obstacles and challenges?
How open are we to the will of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
How do we discern the direction in which the Holy Spirit is leading us rather than just following our own private enthusiasms or agendas?
Is there freedom to exercise our own particular gifts in the service of the Church?
Is my local community accountable and transparent when it comes to making decisions and, if not, what would help to remedy this?
Do I support the bishops and priests in arriving at their decisions?
How well do we hand on the Faith?
Are we effective in sharing and passing on the Faith as individuals, as parishes, and as a diocese?
What would help us to do this better?
Can we see ways in which we might continue to work in a ‘synodal’ way – praying, discussing, and discerning together, not reliant on majority votes, but on a genuine consensus – a coming together of hearts and minds under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?