strategy

National Strategy

03/11/2015 5:46 pm

Introduction

It is estimated that there are between 1-1.5 million churchgoing Catholics in England and Wales, and another 4 million baptised, who rarely or never visit their local Catholic parish. In response to this reality the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis initiated, with partners, a project called ‘Crossing the Threshold’, to support every parish to make ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics a priority.

Whilst it is not a new pastoral reality that a significant number of baptised Catholics rarely or never attend church, the worry and anxiety experienced by mass-going parents, siblings and grandparents of this group of people, is deep and heartfelt. Nearly every mass-goer holds in their heart at least one person in their family who seems distant from the life of faith. ‘Crossing the Threshold’ exists to develop this area of ministry and outreach.

Ten-Part Strategic Response

There are ten parts to the Bishops’ strategic response in relation to this area of ministry and outreach:

1. Core group – a first step was to set up a national group made up of people who specialise in this area of outreach and ministry.

2. Resource Days – a national tour was offered covering the ecclesial Provinces in England and Wales. The tour was over-subscribed involving around 1,500 people.

All the Archbishops and Bishops either attended a day, or helped to promote them. Every tour attendee was asked to submit his/her insights and comments about an emerging pastoral response.

This was preceded by a leaders’ day in Westminster.

3. Resources – a new set of materials has gradually been published online (in phases) in the form of an e-Manual, so that every parish can download materials to practically enable and support this area of outreach.

Outreach leaflets called ‘Catholic and Lost Touch?’ have also been printed for parish distribution.

4. Research: Case Study - a national research project was commissioned which had as its focus non-churchgoing Catholic parents who send their children to Catholic schools. The results of the research were published in early September 2014.

5. Multimedia – in partnership with Catholic Evangelisation Services (the CaFE team) five video testimonies featuring former non-churchgoing Catholics have been created.

They are available for free download on the Bishops’ Conference Vimeo channel.

6. Seasonal website – the Come Home For Christmas website has been developed in recognition of the fact that a large number of non-churchgoing Catholics attend Christmas services. The website features welcome messages from the Archbishops and Bishops of England and Wales. Additional Christmas outreach materials for parishes, including posters and invitation cards, are also available for download
Similarly, Easter outreach materials for parishes are available for download

7. Diocesan pilot project for one year – the Bishops’ Home Mission Desk co-ran a pilot, working in partnership with diocesan staff, to support five new parish evangelisation teams in Nottingham Diocese. Their focus was outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics. As a fruit of this pilot more dioceses have been running the project.

8. Confession – materials have been created to support catechesis about, and the promotion of, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The initiative enjoyed widespread coverage in the media. Prior to the resource creation, as part of this project, a Confession survey was done, which also received substantial media coverage, and informed the resource creation.

9. National SundayHome Mission Sunday is an annual day on which the Bishops invite parishes across England and Wales to pray for and support Home Mission. A recent theme was ‘Crossing the Threshold’ and had as its focus ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics. Over 400,000 leaflets were sent to every parish and religious house in England and Wales. Please see Home Mission Sunday 2013.

10. Proclaim ’15: National Evangelisation Conference – Bishops’ approval was given to organise a high profile national evangelisation conference in July 2015. A significant focus of this event was ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics. There are five parts to this initiative – the provision of parish preparatory materials, the event itself, the organisation of prayer vigils and legacy events, including too new resource creation. The theme document is Evangelii Gaudium.