Parish Planning and Survey Results
Parish Life is now well underway for 2021 with our Parish Councils having held their Annual Planning session on Sunday, 7 February. A large part of the discussion that day was about the changes that have occurred in our society (over centuries, decades, years and and -yes- even months given the enormous impact of Covid-19), requiring us to continually research and monitor those changes, and respond to meet the ongoing needs of the Catholic community.
Another major focus for the Councils was to help determine the best governance model to be adopted given the fact that I am now Parish Priest looking after the pastoral needs of approximately 14,800 Catholics within over 5,000 families across three parishes, five Churches and three schools. Those numbers can result in an enormous number of meetings and associated administration tasks to ensure the smooth running of our parishes and proactive responding to and planning for the needs of our parishes. We spent some time on the Sunday planning day looking at various models to see if there is a “better” way to govern the activities of our parishes to ensure our governance is both effective and valuable at this critical time in the Catholic Church’s history.
An important input to that process was the data we received from many people in the Parish survey completed in September and October, 2020. Special thanks to over 150 people who also volunteered to provide additional help to us by participating in a focus group. On the completion of the report on the survey data, we asked Stephen Reid from the Christian Research Association to initially conduct three small focus groups (given the constraints of Covid and Zoom) which were held in early December. Many thanks again to those people who participated in those initial groups. It is our intention to hold further discussion groups in the future so stay tuned for that.
The report on those initial groups was coupled with the data from over 500 survey responses and provides us with really valuable insights into the needs and desires of our community to shape our parish for the future. You can read the summaries from the Survey and the Focus Groups here.
We will be keen to gain further feedback from more of you in 2021 as we formulate our strategy plans across the many and varied activities that are conducted within our parishes so it is our intention to consider how best to hold further focus groups. We will communicate more about that after the Councils have time to reflect on various options.
Thanks again for being willing to give us more of your time to help develop stronger parishes for the future. It is only with your active involvement that we will be able to bring about the changes that we need to respond to the changing world and the different ways in which people express and live out their faith.
Fr Brendan Reed