Bishop Nicholas Hudson led an Evangelisation Symposium day on 5 November 2014 at Vaughan House. Delegates from across the dioceses of England and Wales came together to discuss the challenges of ministering and reaching out to non-churchgoing Catholics.
He spoke before the Symposium day about why this work has been done, how it has been conducted and gave a general overview:
The discussions on the day followed the findings of the new research paper conducted by Dr Ann Casson at the request of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis. The research has as its focus non-churchgoing Catholic parents who send their children to Catholic primary schools in England and Wales. In recent years the Department has commissioned a wide range of work concerning outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics.
The Symposium day saw a range of speakers who work to support local evangelisation and pastoral ministry in the service of families, parishes and schools share their insights and experience to help inform a practical response to the research’s findings.
Reflecting on the findings of the research and the importance of reaching out to non-church going Catholic parents ahead of the Symposium, Bishop Nicholas said:
‘I find that I am deeply touched by what I am hearing and I think that we need to ask more parents more directly what it is that is difficult about coming to Church and being involved in the life of the parish’.
Referring to one particular example of an answer given in the interviews conducted as part of the research, he continued: ‘We hear of parents saying “when I come up to the Church, I’m not sure which door to come in through and a part of me wonders if I’ll be told off on the other side”. We need to communicate with parents that they can come as they are.’
‘I find myself wanting to affirm the dignity of the parents’ voices we are hearing; how the Church can communicate that we respect them for the life that they are living in their Catholic family and that we look on them with the same gaze of love as our Blessed Lord does’.
He concluded, ‘I want to listen more to parents, I want to talk to them about their experience of parish life and just see if there are small ways in which we can make them more welcome’.
You can listen to Bishop Nicholas’ reflection on how to reach out to parents here:
You can also read a summary of Dr Casson's work by clicking HERE .