July - August 2018
A ‘summer break’ can sometimes mean just that: that something has changed; that there is a break from the old in preparation for something new. It may be that you are just making a break in your usual work routine, and having a summer holiday. It is a chance to break out the new holiday wardrobe with clothes that suit the weather, and make you feel a new person, at least for a short while. For students, end of the summer term sees the old academic year being left behind and a new year of studies or even the first real job beckoning – well maybe not just yet. A summer holiday first! While for newly married couples who had planned hard for their ‘spring wedding’, they are now taking their first tentative steps together as a married couple with all its joys and challenges.
In amongst the constant moving forward in life, the summer break can give time to re-assess priorities. It is an opportunity to break away from what was old and out of date, and to go forward with a new sense of purpose.
This can be the same in parish life. There might be changes in the parish as familiar faces move on and new personalities arrive. Parents, whose children are looking ahead to the next school year when their child is to make their First Holy Communion or their Confirmation, are now pleased to be more involved in making the parish an active community. For young people coming home from college or starting a married life together, they suddenly become more visible as they seek new ways through parish life to strengthen old friendships and make new ones. There may be a new member of the parish team, perhaps a new catechist or even a new parish priest or assistant priest, who brings new ideas and ways of working. These changes can provide fresh opportunities for individuals to grow as members of a vibrant, parish community. For the parish, the changes may show the future in a new light and signal a new start in responding to the Church’s missionary call, so that, with ‘new ardour, new methods and new expression’, the parish becomes a truly ‘missionary parish’, forming ‘missionary disciples’. This active and welcoming community then is able to bring the Good News, to some for the first time, and to others, those who are already baptised but who have wandered away from the Church or have become lost, the missionary parish will help them to meet Jesus once again - as if for the first time!
To turn those ‘summer breaks’ into lasting and positive change within the parish will require hard work, cooperation and innovation. For ideas on how this might happen, see the Proclaim websites pages https://rcdow.org.uk/faith/evangelisation2017/
Deacon Adrian Cullen