Link to Final Proposal Document above
Today, I received with great delight the long-awaited Final Proposals of the extensive Fit for Mission Parishes Review. This report marks the end of an extensive consultation which I launched in Lent 2007. First of all, on behalf of the Diocese, let me thank the Mission Review Team and its Core Group for theircommitment to this painstaking undertaking over a period of 16 months. I marvel at their generosity and perseverance.
Theirs was a gigantic task but they stuck with it for 16 months. Our sincere thanks and congratulations, too, to our parishes, deaneries and individuals who have contributed so positively to this review. Here we had consultation at every level throughout the Diocese and where it did not happen it was due entirely to resistance at parish or deanery level.
What we have achieved is something quite remarkable a Mission Review that has combined an honest evaluation of our sacramental and mission prioritieswith a courageous vision of the future shape of the Diocese in the years ahead.Again, this Review was about mission and how we are to strengthen the communication of the Faith today. It was not all about the linking and merging of parishes though inevitably this will happen. What is of real concern is the prayer-life of our parishes, schools and homes and the living out of the faith with confidence. At the very heart of the mission of the Church is our being gathered together in Christ and being sent out as witnesses to Him and leading others to Him. For as the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us;The Lord is at our side as a mighty hero for we have committed our cause to Him. Todays psalm teaches us that with His help we will never fail for the Lord listens to the needy. We can only do this under the power of the Holy Spirit. We need not be afraid.
Now I must take time to study the proposals and pray about them before taking my own recommendations based on my consideration of The Final Proposals to the Diocesan Council of Priests. My first task, guided by the Council, is to make decisions about the future of those parishes identified as requiring immediate action.
You know my programme over the next couple of months
Australia (World Youth Day Festival with the Holy Father),
Lourdes (Diocesan Pilgrimage) and then a much-needed holiday. So, there will be little time for an examination of these important proposals until early September. Perhaps we should be looking for a date in late October or early November for an initial meeting with the Council of Priests about the first round of implementations. I am bound to consult fully with the Council before making any final decisions.
Meanwhile, please continue to keep Fit for Mission to the forefront of your prayers and I ask again for your help in the work of mission; also support in the implementation of the changes when they are finally agreed the future will demand of us great generosity, courage and sacrifice. In this year when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes, I ask our Diocesan Patroness to help and intercede for us in the weeks and months ahead.
With every good wish and prayer,
Bishop of Lancaster