News Centre

Small Communities for Mission

by Deacon Adrian Cullen, Evangelisation Coordinator

For this coming Lent, the Agency for Evangelisation is pleased to offer to small communities and parish faith-sharing groups a new resource written by Monsignor Keith Barltrop of Bayswater Parish called ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’, which focuses on the joy of being a missionary disciple. Mgr Keith brings a wealth of missionary and pastoral experience gained through his ministry as a priest, Rector of Allen Hall Seminary, Episcopal Vicar, Director of the Catholic Missionary Society and the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation.

In ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’ Monsignor Keith explores the themes of joyful evangelisation of recent Popes, bringing a new sense of missionary purpose to small communities in parishes. Your parish may already have well-established small communities and faith-sharing groups, but if not then Lent is an ideal time to set up new ones, bringing parishioners together, reaching out to new people, and encouraging a more missionary discipleship in the parish. Each week during Lent ‘Rejoice and be Glad’ invites us through listening, discussion and prayer to re-discover a profound and personal sense of being loved and of being called to love as joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.

Lenten faith-sharing discussion groups present an opportunity to imitate Jesus’ own approach to growing missionary disciples. Jesus did not take on his mission alone, but brought together his twelve disciples, with whom he shared his mission, teaching them and forming them as missionaries to take the Good News to the whole world. This model has stood the test of time: we might think of St Francis of Assisi and his band of brothers, or Mother Teresa and her sisters with their distinctive habits who serve the poor across the world. And just as the disciples in their ongoing mission grew as a community, and set up the new faith communities of the early Church, so too can we, in our ongoing mission, form small communities within the parish and under the guidance of the parish priest to offer a practical environment for friendship and support, not just for us as missionary disciples, but also as individuals with our own gifts to share and needs to meet. Pope Francis, in Gaudete et Exsultate highlights the importance of such communities: ‘Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others.’

The launch evening for ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’ is on 27th February, 7pm at Vaughan House, 46 Francis St SW1P 1QN. All leaders and group members are invited to attend. For more information on ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’ and to order booklets £3 each, please contact smallgroups@rcdow.org.uk.