Bishop Mark’s recent document on re organisation within the Diocese, makes regular reference to ‘The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community’, which was issued from the Vatican during the summer.
On Christian initiation it says ‘It is a journey that is ongoing’ ‘not as a duty to fulfil, a rite of passage’ as ‘an ongoing proclamation of the Mystery of Christ.’ (para 23) This seems especially relevant to the preparation of young people for 1st Holy Communion, and for Confirmation, and for the reception of adults into the Church. We have so many sessions of preparation, then the big day comes, and that’s it, and then we complain that so many don’t come back to Mass afterwards. And we need ongoing adult formation as well. To give an illustration, many of us will have learned our prayers from our mothers and stick with that formula for the rest of our adult lives.
A little further, (para 25) we read ‘The ‘culture of encounter’ is conducive to dialogue, solidarity and openness to others, ‘a Parish must be a place that brings people together and fosters long term personal relationships, thereby giving people a sense of belonging and being wanted.’ And isn’t this encounter at least a partial answer to our ongoing formation, something which we can do with and for each other?
‘Pastoral Conversion’ and ‘A Precious Place’ also discuss grouping of Parishes working together, and this seems especially helpful in the preparation of children and young adults who may be few in one parish and feel such a tiny and isolated minority without the friendship of others, and where their catechists or leader could share too.
From Frances McWilliams
Editorial Note: thanks to all who have commented on A Precious Place. We wait for parish arrangements to discuss and feed back to the Bishop – see article on A parish self-audit. Meanwhile, here are just one reader’s thoughts