My Vision for the Parish

Published Wed, 26/01/2022 by


The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me (Luke 4:18-19)

Last week I shared with you three things that give me hope!  The first is the Synodal process, which has been so inspiring (see the Parish website for a summary of our discussions).  The second is the way the Diocese is marshalling resources to support and equip the laity.  The third is what I took to be the Bishop’s encouragement to the priests of the Diocese to engage with parish renewal, by the help of Divine Renovation UK

By Friday afternoon I felt I needed to check: had I really got that right?  Was there a danger I might be just getting into this process – only to find the Diocese coming along with other plans.  There seemed only one thing to do: I decided to ring the Bishop direct to doublecheck he is truly okay with my desire to make this search for renewal the focus of the next phase in my ministry.  To my delight the Bishop said my news, “Gladdened his heart.”  He went on to share that quite a few other priests of the Diocese – 15 or 16 in total, more than I’d been aware of – are engaging on this path of renewal too

So here goes!  This is a Kairos moment – a moment of opportunity – in the wider Church, as she prepares for the Synod of Bishops in 2023.  Let’s make it our moment of God-given opportunity too!  I look to God with faith and hope, then, for renewal in our Parish

For the grace of a new start together, as we emerge from the pandemic and that through the Holy Spirit God will lead us into even more effective ways of being church than we’ve known before – to aim high! 

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus begins his ministry with a succinct statement of what his messianic programme is going to be about.  Turning to Isaiah, he reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me 

To bring the good news to the poor

To proclaim liberty to captives

And to the blind new sight

To set the downtrodden free

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”

The important thing to grasp is that Jesus’ mission is a mission that must continue today, through the way we are Church together.  HIS mission is OUR mission.  Each of us has a part to play, for as St Paul says, “You together are Christ’s body (and) each of you is a different part of it.” (I Corinthians 12:17)

Not everyone’s role is the same, of course.  The ear isn’t the same as the eye; the head isn’t the same as the foot.  But no-one who is a member of the Church – a member of Christ through baptism – is excused from playing their part in Christ’s mission

So in this new start, I hope for a reset of relations between priest and people, in which you enter fully with me into that co-responsibility for the life, worship and mission of the Church to which you were summoned when you were baptised.  For a way of being church in which no-one is passive – but each of us, whatever our age or situation in life, discovers and offers generously our God-given gifts, in whatever way we’re able, for the common good.

That’s the dream.  So how are we going to get there?  No priest could make this happen unaided.  Communal renewal can only come from God.  So we must all begin by praying for it, asking the Holy Spirit to help us find the way, the right path

To find the way, to harness the gifts the Spirit distributes among us, I need a dedicated team to assist me.  Four parishioners have already generously committed to this.  I am grateful to them, but more are needed besides who feel excited by this vision and will be prepared to meet weekly as a team, to pray and to plan.

My vision for the parish is of a faith community where everyone finds opportunity and encouragement:  to encounter the living God; to celebrate the presence among us of our Risen Lord – with us through his Spirit and in his sacraments; to love the Scriptures, and grow in their knowledge of the Church’s teaching.

My vision is for a community rooted in faith, where each person is challenged to grow in the ways of authentic discipleship – towards their full stature in Christ.

I look for a parish community which will be fully inclusive and outward-looking, giving witness to Christ’s compassion, through practical action and generous self-giving – and reaching out beyond our comfort zones to share his love and truth with all we meet.

The Spirit of the Lord has been given to us …  To paraphrase Isaiah, he has anointed us:

To share the Gospel

To affirm everyone in that freedom Christ comes to bring

To help people find faith

To assert the dignity of the undervalued and marginalised

And to make the most of this God-given moment of opportunity.                            


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