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Helping Families towards Christ 

Father Edmund

23 June 2024


As I share frequently with the parish, we have over 2,000 children at our schools, aged 2 to 18, but as few as 12 regularly come to Mass. This is both a challenge and an opportunity: what can we do to arrest this situation, to create an atmosphere of welcome and invitation to those families that do not yet come to Mass and, at the same time, ensure that we are a parish that provides support, teaching, outreach, and on-going formation in the Catholic Faith for all parishioners, from the youngest to the oldest?



Since January alone, we have baptised over 50 children, we have had nine new Catholics, I have given Holy Communion to just short of 100 children and adults receiving Holy Communion for the first time. These signs of life in our parish are wonderful and good to share with you - but we need to do much, HELPING FAMILIES much more if we are to even begin to grapple with the challenge of those 2,000 missing families.


Conversations: Schools and Governors

This past month, I have had initial conversations with the five Headteachers of our five Catholic schools and with the Chairs of Governors of those schools to share with them my concerns and my desire to use the full resources of our parish and schools to the work of engaging with families in a focused and concentrated way. These discussions have been broad and frank in their exchange , challenging existing presuppositions and ways of working, seeking to retain that which is good and life-giving, and I have been asking for the necessary courage and forbearance in changing those things that need wholesale reform and that are not bearing fruit - and perhaps have not been bearing fruit for a number of decades. Change is oftentimes complex and requires patience, communication, an openness to other views, and the building of a shared vision. Happily, parish and schools are all founded on our shared Catholic Faith and our love for the children and their families.


First Holy Communion from 2025 >

Alongside these conversations, I have invited a number of parishioners to help me in assisting families - particularly in preparation for first Holy Communion - by being involved in delivering a programme from 2025-2026. From that Academic Year, the Sacramental Programme will revert to the parish from the four pr imar y schools, enabl ing more opportunities for families to have contact with the parish and Sunday Mass as part of that preparation.


A Challenge: Changing Family Routine

The significant challenge is: How do we ask families to make Sunday Mass a priority? Is it realistic to ask them to change what can already be a full or complex weekend routine? How do we help them see that Sunday Mass TOWARDS CHRIST can be transformative for them and their family? Part of this reflection will be to ask families directly about this - and to survey what we can offer to them and what would help them.


Next Steps

I will be keeping the Headteachers and chairs of Governors informed - and the parish, too - of the developments, plans, and initiatives, and I have asked the schools to make family engagement with the parish a priority for their senior leadership meetings in the coming Academic Year. I will need the schools’ help, support, ideas, and advice.


The New Academic Year 2024-2025

With the schools’ long Summer break approaching, July and August will allow me to collate and process the many conversations and feedback from all these meetings to ensure a way forward that commits to serving, helping, and caring for the more than 2,000 children and their families who are part of our school community, but not yet with us at Sunday Mass. 

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