Over three days, from Thurs 8th June to Sat 10th June 2017, almost 120 delegates from various Jesuit parishes and institutions came together to learn from each other and from a panel of experts, how to breathe new energy into parish life to make them “ centres of constant missionary outreach” (Evangelii Gaudiam 28). Delegates from Scotland to the south coast, ranging in age from 21 to 89, and representing cultures on all continents, spent time together at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick (Derbyshire) considering the three key documents issued by Pope Francis:
- Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)– the first Apostolic Exhortation, 2013;
- Laudato Si (On Care of Our Common Home) – the Encyclical on the Environment, 2015;
- Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) – the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, 2016 (following the Synods on marriage and the family in 2014 and 2015).
Dr James Hanvey, S.J (Campion Hall, Oxford) gave delegates an overview of the Pope’s key messages for the Church and her people. He stressed that the Church needs to move outwards, to the margins, if it is to be truly a Church of the poor. Quoting Evangelii Gaudium Dr Hanvey, S.J called the Church “a mother with an open heart, not an institution”.
In relation to Laudato Si, Dr Hanvey suggested that as God made the world for all, all have a right to a share in the goods of Creation. But we should also treat Creation itself as “one of the poor”, one which requires our care and nurture.
On Amoris Laetitia Dr Hanvey reminded participants that the Pope has called for a rebuilding of the family, as a response to the prevailing throwaway culture, believing that strong families will ensure strength and resilience in wider society.
He finished by quoting paragraph 28 of Evangelii Gaudium “The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and community.”
Three groups then spent the rest of the day learning more about and discussing the three documents. On the last day of the 2017 Jesuit Conference parish groups met together to discuss how the key themes and ideas from the documents could be implemented in their parish.
St Anselm’s group consisted of 8 representatives who have agreed to:
“The Joy of the Gospel”
+ launch a parish Evangelisation & Discipleship Programme;
(based on some work already done eg Proclaim’15; the workshops at the Ealing Abbey, book by Sherry A. Weddell Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus). Time-frame: Autumn 2017.
+ maintain our commitment to the marginalised and keep St Anselm’s open to everyone, especially those in need;
+ continue our involvement in ecumenical & inter-faith initiatives and social justice campaigns as members of West London Citizens/Citizens UK.
“On Care of Our Common Home”
+ strengthen and develop our relationship with “A Rocha” and our young people in the parish (eg: summer camps at St Anselm’s, nature conservation in Wolf Fields Community Allotment, help in the Wolf Fields Pollination Project).
+ support St Anselm’s Primary School in its various activities concerning the environment (via its Eco Council) and its inter-religious links with Khalsa VA Primary School);
+ organise an event that will foster the legacy of Brother Daniel Faivre, SG and will explore his contribution to the theme of creation in different faith traditions; Date: 9th Sept 2017, Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the death of Br Daniel. Inter-faith Gathering on Faith and Ecology – Laudato Si: Father Sky-Mother Earth.
+ improve waste management and recycling around the church and Parish Centre;
+ look into some ways to raise awareness of environmental issues in the parish and encourage parishioners to take advantage of opportunities available to local people and community groups. (eg the Southall Orchard Project; Southall Transition, etc) Time frame: Autumn 2017
+ set up “A Laudato Si Group” that will monitor the implementation of this action plan.
“The Joy of Love”
+ further develop the opportunities for counselling in the parish;
+ support parents with challenging teenagers;
+ celebrate the gift of family life & the inclusion of children with learning disabilities.