An update for parishioners at St. Edmund of Canterbury
This is the latest news (as of September 11, 2022) of Saint Edmund’s “journeying together” as part of the Synod on Synodality.
Many of us participated during May and June of this year in the 18 spiritual conversations (i.e. sessions) inspired by the Holy Spirit involving prayer, reflection and listening to each other. Each session reached a consensus that was recorded and sent to the diocese and is part of the permanent record of the Synod on Synodality.
During the summer we studied our results observations and comments that arose during our 18 spiritual conversations. The review was conducted under the leadership of Father Jess with advice from the newly struck Parish Pastoral Council. It culminated in a one-day retreat at L’Hermitage St. Croix late in August.
The present status of our prayers and discernment are described in the following text. The bottom line is an invitation to all to come to know Jesus Christ and to share the joy of knowing Christ.
The Parish Pastoral Council is leading us as we journey forward together, and we shall seek your involvement in sharing leadership in the ways that are described below, including completion of the Parish Survey.
First, what is a Parish Pastoral Council? You may ask, don’t we have such a beast already? Well, not so. With emphasis on the word “pastoral” this is a new entity in our parish.
According to the Holy See, the role of the pastoral council is to promote the church’s mission to live and communicate the love and values of Christ in the world. It shares in the responsibility of the ongoing life and development of the faith community, working together with parishioners to provide support for their efforts to live as followers of Christ.
It is a consultative body in a diocese or parish that serves to advise the bishop or parish priest about pastoral issues. The concept was first articulated in Vatican II Decree on Bishops. The decree established diocesan pastoral councils with a threefold purpose: to investigate pastoral matters, to ponder or reflect over them, and to reach conclusions that the council can recommend to the bishop.
In the Montreal Archdiocese, Archbishop Lépine decrees that a pastoral council be established in each parish in which the Christian faithful, together with those who share and pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity. A pastoral council performs a consultative role only and is governed by the norms established by the diocese and bishop.
Through our discernment process three spheres of action emerged for St. Edmund’s parish to channel our collaborative energies toward the hopes and aspirations of the synod participants and eventually to share in the joy of knowing Christ. These are:
- Faith Formation – for children as at present, but extending as soon as possible to youth post Confirmation and, eventually, to include all demographic segments of our community;
- Community Building – starting with welcoming and support for all who approach our threshold and geared as much as possible to the needs of different persons’ circumstances; inclusiveness across the cross-sections of our society is crucial;
- Social Ministry – to build on the good works carried out by St. Edmund’s parishioners with existing projects and responding to emerging needs.
Faith Formation is the root source of evangelization. “To evangelize is to make the Kingdom of God present in our world” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel). Evangelization for its part is the thread that ties together and integrates the goals and missions of all three spheres. But that won’t happen immediately; there is much groundwork to do, beginning now.
This will be a year of transition, with minor adjustments to the existing program while regrouping resources. We will continue to use the “Be My Disciples” book as well as the online program for now. Our intent is to reflect as a team and to seek counsel in formulating and assessing our options.
Details of the registration process have been communicated separately. A new leadership team will be introduced shortly. It will replace Jan Burchell who resigned. We thank Jan for her dedication and faithful service over the years.
Following the launch of the children’s faith formation program, our attention will turn to teens and young adults. The short-term priority will be to build a team of volunteers to carry out faith education in the parish for all sectors.
Father Jess reminds us that the Faith Education journey should not be a completion, but a continuation of our faith journey.
Community Building involves action and leadership on several levels going forward. There is already an active Hospitality Ministry in the parish to which we owe our gratitude and appreciation. These volunteers worked quietly and diligently to keep our church open, compliant with COVID restrictions and socially distant over the past two years. Thank you for this valuable achievement.
Looking forward, we hope to build on this proven dedication while reaching out in new and creative ways. We will need to take a new approach to leadership in how we present ourselves to those outside, how we welcome them and continue to support them as a loving community.
Analysis and training are new features that we seek to incorporate in our plans. Analysis involves studying the demographics of our parish so that we can identify groups according to their needs and how we might be helpful to them. Training will be required for all with the overriding focus on aligning the greeters’ values to the values of Jesus Christ. One of the key takeaways from the retreat was a Divine Renovation training video that showed most people decide in the first 7 to 9 minutes if they will return to the church. First impressions are crucial.
A three-step process was suggested for revitalization of the welcoming team as we venture into the new post-pandemic era:
- Acknowledge and thank current volunteers who managed this area through thick and thin of the pandemic.
- Put a mentoring process in place whereby current greeters can share their experience with new ones.
- Go forward with a warm welcome to Sunday Eucharist.
In the final analysis, our challenge will be to find the balance between the sanctity of the liturgy and the social dimension of welcoming each other.
Social Ministry can be summarized as “Faith in Action”. It has many dimensions, and it is already present in a significant way among groups in the parish. Thank you for the great work you are doing in the Parish Pantry, Special collections of food, clothing, furniture etc., Development and Peace, and so much more.
At the same time, we recognize that we need advice to become more effective in communicating our good news and attracting others to join us. It was determined that we need expert help and that we would need funding to go forward. A resource has been identified who is working with other parishes along these lines and is in fact if currently assisting St. Edmund’s as our webmaster, James Shaw of Deep Fried Communications.
The strong need was identified to reach beyond the borders of our parish to share resources in addressing the immense needs in the west island. Our social ministry team will find ways to tap into information on potential partnerships.
St. Edmund’s has a strong active base of faith and good works. Our synodal sessions revealed a latent desire to improve, reach out and do more. Leadership is a key issue that we need to address urgently; this report is intended to inform you of some of the steps we are taking to address the leadership issue.
We need involvement from a broad base, and the accompanying survey is intended to invite you to join in our journey together by contributing in the areas where you feel most comfortable.
Finally, some of the elements in our plan will require Financial Resources. To that end we plan to meet soon with the wardens and the Episcopal Vicar to find feasible solutions to our challenges.
Let us find in the Holy Spirit our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
God bless us everyone.