I hope both the Lenten Season and the start of this Easter Season have been a journey of many blessings for you all. I was delighted with the number of people who came to the Masses and services in the church over the Triduum; it tells me of your desire and enthusiasm to celebrate the highpoint of our year, the dying and rising of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I am pleased to give you an update on where we have got to on the Synodal process. Firstly, may I begin by once again thanking all of you who participated by completing the survey and attending the listening events. Your feedback has demonstrated to me that you value the Church, your faith and the parish you live and worship in. It is also clear to me that you desire change for the better. I share that desire as does the clergy team. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Synod team for their dedication and hard work in organising this whole process and producing the report which was submitted to the Diocese nearly two months ago.
Some of you will know the background to where we are now, but for those who don’t, allow me to share with you how two processes, Divine Renovation and the Synodal Process have come together and complement one another.
After reading Fr James Mallon’s book Divine Renovation: bringing your parish from maintenance to mission, discussions began in the clergy team on the vision and direction of our parish. These discussions were guided and facilitated with the invaluable guidance of Pauline D’Souza, Business Coach & Mentor. We established five areas on which to focus: our attention: Personal Witness, Liturgy, Education, Pastoral and Organisation, and after a great deal of discussion and debate we agreed on the values against which we need to measure what we do: Respect, Honesty, Courage, Forgiveness, Growth. The Mission Statement we eventually put together is: Being formed in the likeness of Christ we strive to become a truly Christ centred community, through humble witness, love, compassion and communion.
As you know, by March 2020 Covid had arrived and began significantly to change our lives. As with other plans, projects and activities, any further progress with our vision stalled and we were unable to take things forward and involve the parish community as we would have wanted. However, a golden opportunity came our way in the shape of an initiative of Pope Francis. A Synod was planned for October 2023 and the Synodal Process gave you, the laity, the chance to have your say. The three main headings you were being encouraged to focus on were: Communion, Participation, Mission.
Having looked at your responses, the Synod Team (Liz Jones, Fran Fear, Susie Watchorn and Emma Carlile) along with the Parish Team (all the clergy and Barbara and Rosemary from the parish office) have looked at ways in which the clergy could re-connect and, in some cases, connect for the first time with people who we’ve not had a chance to spend time with.
I hope you have all taken the opportunity to read the report.
Two of the points raised were the need to welcome new parishioners and the desire for whole-parish events.
I am therefore delighted to announce that a series of events is now firmly in the parish diary………
Saturday 18 June – The 6.00 pm Mass will be specially for couples who have married at St Edmund’s in the last few years. This will be followed by a reception in the Church Hall.
Sunday 19 June – At 11.00 am there will be a reception in the Hall for those who have had their children baptised in the last couple of years. This should bring together some of the families who have moved to Beckenham quite recently and others who are longer term parishioners and
From midday – 2.00pm we will extend the invitation to couples and families who have joined the parish in the last few years and who would like to meet other newcomers.
These gatherings will be advertised in the parish newsletter.
Other events that we have planned are designed to bring the whole parish together and include:
Friday 3 June – Afternoon Tea for the Jubilee in the Hall and garden
Saturday 18 June – Quiz Night in the Church Hall in aid of The Passage.
And looking ahead to autumn we hope to see you at:
1 October – Auction Night in the Hall
3 December – Family Christmas Karaoke and Disco in the Hall.
10 December – The annual Parish Carol Service followed by mince pies and mulled wine in the Hall
17 December – Christmas Afternoon tea
As you can imagine, all of these events will need support with planning and organisation, so I am asking for volunteers to come forward. You will not be signing up for years of hard labour, just for one or two events. Maybe you could get a group of friends together and build a team.
Please email or phone the Parish Office stating clearly which event you would be able to assist with and we will get in touch.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of this parish and I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for your time, your good cheer and your commitment to St Edmund’s and the Catholic Church. None of what we hope to do can happen without help from you, so if you have never offered your help before or never been asked before, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.
As I write this, it is a fresh sunny day, full of hope and promise and I am mindful of and grateful for the many talents and graces that we have in our parish. So, I will finish my letter to you with these words from Peter which we can all take to heart:
Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these varied graces of God, put it at the service of others.