Latest Issue: 21 November 2015
21 November 2015
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Parish Practice

19 November 2015 by Nicholas Henshall

It is essential for clergy and those they serve to learn how to make the time for recreation in its fullest sense. Without it, a healthy, flourishing community is almost impossisble to maintain

Previous issues

12 November 2015 by Mark Vickers

Costs of funerals are increasing at a prohibitive rate. It is important to remind people that the Mass and their prayers will assist the deceased far more powerfully than money spent on more peripheral items

05 November 2015 by Ros Bayes

When asked about how they are regarded in their communities, the biggest cry from disabled people is for their creative gifts to be recognised, so that they can make a contribution. Not all parishes listen

22 October 2015 by Bernard Cotter

Preparation for marriage is one of the most common places where pastoral care and canon law meet. Concern can clash with the legal procedure

15 October 2015 by James Cronin

Tomorrow is World Mission Sunday, when lay people are invited to join in evangelisation and witness. The real work of the Church, Pope Francis says, is learning to experience fraternity with others

08 October 2015 by Paul Hypher

Care for the planet and the dangers of climate change, highlighted in Pope Francis’ speech to the United Nations last month, will also impact on patterns of prayer, liturgy and spirituality

01 October 2015 by Nicholas Henshall

From his first sermons to his final discourse, Jesus taught us that ministry to the marginalised and the lost is the first priority of the Christian community. Our response to those in need is a key measure of our faith

24 September 2015 by Elizabeth Davies

When the Synod of Bishops meets next month to discuss how to support the institution many feel is under serious threat, it will be well advised to look first at the widely varying experiences of ordinary people

17 September 2015 by Mark O’Toole

On Sunday 20 September, parishes are invited to celebrate Home Mission Sunday, to pray for and support evangelisation in England and Wales. A bishop suggests different ways the vital work can be carried out

03 September 2015 by Denis Blackledge

Deepening a parish’s spirituality can be done in many ways. In one Jesuit church, small prayer groups were the groundwork, preparing the community for mission

27 August 2015 by Stephen Wang

It only takes two or three committed and prayerful people to start putting evangelisation ‘theory’ to work in a parish. A university chaplain explains how the Sycamore programme can be a launch pad

20 August 2015 by Adrian Graffy

The readings at Sunday Mass require careful reflective study in advance, by priest, parishioner and reader alike. There are some invaluable study guides to help us deepen our appreciation and understanding

13 August 2015 by Melanie McDonagh

Traditional hymns are good vehicles of theology. If every child preparing for First Communion learned a few of them by heart, it would help them receive the sacrament with understanding, awe and mystery

06 August 2015 by Allen Morris

The preparation offered to parents seeking to have their newborns baptised can vary considerably. This parish has devised a number of sessions that bring together contemporary needs and Gospel values

30 July 2015 by Mark Dowd

Last month Ellen Teague focused on resources to help people understand the message of Laudato si’. This week our writer presents ideas for putting the green encyclical’s central message into practice

23 July 2015 by Ellen Teague

Christian groups involved in environmental campaigning have seized on the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato si, to show how the ideas he advocates can be implemented at parish level

09 July 2015 by Nicholas Hudson

Today sees the launch in Birmingham of Proclaim ’15, the response of the bishops of England and Wales to Evangelii Gaudium, in which Pope Francis urged the faithful to open ‘a new chapter of evangelisation’

02 July 2015 by Kristina Cooper

Some years ago an Italian parish adapted a Pentecostal Korean evangelisation strategy to its own needs. Pecs is now recognised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and is taking root in Britain and beyond

25 June 2015 by Robin Burgess

Contemplative prayer groups have started to take root in parishes around the world, with initiatives in Australia and New Zealand taking their inspiration from John Main’s work in London and Canada

18 June 2015 by John Deehan

Marriage is being reinterpreted today by the state. There may be ways in which parishes can both support conventional marriage and rethink its meaning

11 June 2015 by Barbara Kentish

With June 17’s day of climate action, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and December’s UN climate talks all coming up, attention is turning to Creation. Prayer, fasting and pilgrimage all play their part

04 June 2015 by Bernard Cotter

The popularity and reach of Corpus Christi processions, at least in Britain and Ireland, has declined in recent years. A proper understanding of the feast and thoughtful preparation could reverse this trend

28 May 2015 by Hilary Lagden

Those who do not suffer from deafness find it hard to imagine the isolation associated with being excluded from the audible world, especially from conversations. ‘Deaf awareness’ is an obligation on all of us

21 May 2015 by Brenden Thompson

The obligation to evangelise falls on all Christians but the methods have changed over the centuries according to the means available. The smartphone app is one tool with enormous potential

14 May 2015 by Patricia Dorrian

The work involved in devising and celebrating a liturgy on marriage, if it is truly inclusive, will help to put into focus the complex reality of people’s relationships today, and the ways they need support

30 April 2015 by Diana Klein

There are different notions of the meaning and purpose of this sacrament of initiation; some are more helpful and accurate than others but examining its origins in the early Church is most rewarding

23 April 2015 by Frances Novillo

The Migrants’ Mass on 4 May in London will bring together Catholics from around the world. It gives an insight to the rich musical heritage that people from many countries can also bring to their parishes

09 April 2015 by Henry Wansbrough

Congregations are more knowledgeable about the Bible than they ever were – and the more sophisticated they are, the higher their expectations of the priest and the greater the importance of meditative reading

02 April 2015 by Tom Grufferty

If churches do not offer a warm welcome at Mass they risk losing those who are searching, and can hardly regard themselves as the people of the Cross and Resurrection that Christ requires them to be

26 March 2015 by Sean Wales

Most parishes today have in place the physical arrangements that will help people with a disability who come to Mass. But sometimes a gentle reminder is in order of how disabled Catholics can contribute

19 March 2015 by Paul Cannon and Sharon Beech

The whole community, not just the priest or those officially designated, has a responsibility to welcome newcomers to church. There are simple but important ways of including people so they feel they belong

12 March 2015 by Bernard Cotter

Homilies in Lent present the preacher with some difficult challenges but the solutions are all around in the everyday culture of the faithful, for those willing to draw on the familiar to illustrate the divine

05 March 2015 by Diana Klein

A few years ago, I was invited to the confirmation of one of my godsons at the Easter Vigil in his parish. A young African girl came to sit next to me in the front row. She was nearly bald, wearing shorts, a skimpy T-shirt and had flip-flops on her feet. She told me how she had been sent to the UK to live with her father and his new family so that she could get treatment for a brain tumour.

26 February 2015 by Mark O’Toole

Parishes and dioceses are being urged to take up the offer of new resources to help make this a special missionary year for bringing the good news of a loving and merciful Christ to a wider audience

12 February 2015 by Susan Penswick

Undertaking restoration work on your local church may seem like a daunting prospect. But the rewards can be considerable, not only in the finished work but in the fun of fundraising and in the work with donors

05 February 2015 by June Andrews

Dementia can be terrifying for the person affected, their family and friends. Good health and social care support makes a huge difference.

29 January 2015 by James Cutts

Links between communities from entirely different cultures are not always easy to establish, but when friendships are forged, the mutual benefits can be immense

15 January 2015 by Gail Williams

Children with learning difficulties can often be overlooked by the Church, so that they are not prepared for reception, Communion or Confirmation. Yet resources are now available to end this neglect

08 January 2015 by Joseph O’Hanlon

A fallacy gaining ground in the Church is that a pastoral approach to issues concerning the family must take precedence over a theologocal one. But as St Paul showed, both heart and mind must always be engaged

30 December 2014 by Kathryn Turner

No matter how engaged we are in the practicalities of life most of us come to a point where we step back and ask, “What is it all for?” The handbook “Do You Love Me?” will help parishioners follow Christ together

18 December 2014 by Richard Hewitt

Since the Second Vatican Council, the sacred liturgy has been made more accessible across the world by incorporating local traditions. This celebration of the Feast of the Nativity in Malawi is a moving example

11 December 2014 by David Clemens

The Lord gave many of his most powerful illustrations of divine love when dining with people from all walks of life. Food is central to God’s plan for the faithful, and it is fitting to build the Christian life around it

04 December 2014 by Brian and Maureen Devine

Couples often marry after little or no preparation, and with little understanding of the kind of commitment they are making. The Synod on the Family has given a new impetus to attempts to put this right

27 November 2014 by Kathryn Turner

As Advent begins, Isaiah guides the faithful, reminding them of the star that shines through the deepest darkness. Gather together in prayer and study, using materials that uncover the joy of Christmas

20 November 2014 by Katharine and David Bramley

When a couple expecting their fourth child were told the baby could not survive outside the womb, they were offered an abortion – but refused. In carrying the baby, they learned how deep is love for lost infants

06 November 2014 by Bernard Cotter

Parishioners can be unaware of the totality of heavy demands made on their priest. It is also true that people’s expectations can be unrealistic. The priest needs to learn how to deal with their disappointments

30 October 2014 by Alicia Sloan

Pope Francis has appointed a special commission to consider and streamline the annulments process. While we await its findings, a canon lawyer clarifies some misunderstandings that often arise in parish life

16 October 2014 by James Cronin

In his first homily as Pope, Francis warned the Church against the danger of becoming a sort of NGO. World Mission Sunday tomorrow is a good moment to remember what we offer along with material aid

09 October 2014 by Tom Grufferty

Last July, in an interview with Argentinian weekly Viva, Pope Francis listed his 10 tips for finding greater happiness. His secret recipe is particularly relevant to building a healthy family life

02 October 2014 by Ursula Mott

Secular Franciscans attempt to model their lives as closely as possible on Christ in such a way that their preaching is more by example than through words, and they respond to human needs as they find them

25 September 2014 by Ellen Teague

Harvest time in the northern hemisphere has evolved with the backing of ecology-minded Christians into ‘Creation Time’, when activities can serve to remind us of our year-round environmental responsibilities

18 September 2014 by Dee Mansi

The older we get, the more likely it is that we will lose the sense of belonging and inclusion, perhaps through bereavement, or retirement. St Vincent shows us how to treat the ‘disease’ of loneliness

04 September 2014 by Dominic Robinson

On a parish pilgrimage on the Camino Ignaciano, supported by the prayers of the whole congregation, the travellers can come to discern – as did the founder of the Jesuits – God’s call to them

28 August 2014 by Diana Klein

The way the sign of peace is observed at Mass has provoked an instruction from Rome on proper practice. This reveals a need for a catechesis that explains the deeper meaning of liturgical gestures

21 August 2014 by Sean Wales

Absolute quiet is prescribed at many points in the Roman Missal but sacred stillness that surfaces spontaneously in prayer is more precious than any other

14 August 2014 by Bernard Cotter

It is good for priests to look for saintly role models, but it is not always easy to find someone whose example offers insights into how to deal with the extraordinary demands of contemporary life

07 August 2014 by Alan Whelan

Attending Mass when abroad can be particularly stimulating and instructive. Observing and appreciating the creative input from other cultures can help the faithful refresh their own customs

31 July 2014 by Marguerite Horner

Matrimonial promises are sacred and profound, and couples making them quite naturally wish to explore all aspects of the commitment they are making. Here we compare two approaches to marriage preparation

24 July 2014 by Anne Inman

Marriage preparation classes have followed a broadly similar format for many decades. Yet couples’ circumstances and expectations have changed and classes need to take account of this

17 July 2014 by Clare Skelton

It is good to give money to worthy causes, but the Christian vocation requires more than that – believers are meant to give of their time, of themselves. The Caritas roadshows open a window on what is possible

10 July 2014 by Nicholas Henshall

I have had two run-ins with secular humanists over the last decade. Neither has been pretty. The first was live on the Sunday Breakfast show on BBC Radio Derby six years ago.

03 July 2014 by Jim Duffy

Christ said “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them” (Matthew 19:14). In some parishes, they think they have to entertain children in order to engage them at Mass. I believe they are wrong. The way to engage children (and adults) when they come to Mass is to help them encounter Christ by experiencing his work in the ministries of the parish.

26 June 2014 by Kit Dollard

Knowing ourselves is the work of a lifetime but the Myers Briggs Type Indicator has a proven record of helping people to understand their own personalities so that they can work better with others

19 June 2014 by Diana Klein

The process of offering a welcome to Catholics who have lost touch with the Church can be a delicate one. Landings, a programme designed to help them negotiate their return, is being relaunched next month

12 June 2014 by Tom Grufferty

The sense in which a priest belongs to his parish is sometimes so profound that when the time comes for him to move on, there is a process of grieving that needs careful and sensitive handling on all sides

05 June 2014 by Bernard Cotter

At Pentecost, the Church gives thanks for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and lets the world see how these are life-changing and world-changing. The entire parish should be involved in the celebrations

29 May 2014 by Frank McDermott

Since the Second Vatican Council pointed the way, the missionary role of the laity and the working relations among the People of God have been transformed. Doncaster’s experience is a model for many

22 May 2014 by Alex Heath

Events that took place in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago can become a lived experience for each of us. At Pentecost, parishes have the opportunity to involve everyone in preparations for this great church feast

15 May 2014 by John Mulligan

If the priest can let go of what some see as his inherited power and the people are prepared to be active participants rather than ‘consumers’, then a new model of parish can ensue

08 May 2014 by Paul Turner

Adults who were baptised at Easter now participate fully in the life of the Church, but there is another stage to guide them through their initial weeks as Catholics

01 May 2014 by Eleanor Lalley, Veronica Murphy and John McLoughlin

Liverpool parishes are finding that the most effective catechesis for children is by working hand in hand with parents. The response to the archdiocesan programme has been overwhelming

24 April 2014 by John Deehan

In Sunday worship, there is a good deal of confusion regarding what, when and how the congregation should sing. Yet the Missal is very clear on these questions, and we should pay close attention to what it says

16 April 2014 by Paul Turner

The baptism of any person is an absolutely key moment in their life. When this takes place at the Easter Vigil, there is added resonance for the whole congregation, and the details of the ceremony – especially if there is immersion – must be carefully prepared

10 April 2014 by Daniel McCarthy

When we participate in the Easter liturgies, our sense of the drama of the events commemorated is particularly acute. But this is why we must recall we are taking part not in drama, but in liturgy – and to understand the difference

03 April 2014 by Kevin McGinnell

In our Lenten reflections, we should always try to check on our complacency levels: are we living the Christian life as fully as possible? This question can be asked at an individual level, but also in terms of the work of the parish community

27 March 2014 by Bernard Cotter

Tomorrow, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is Mother’s Day – an opportunity not only to honour and express gratitude to mothers at Mass, but to remember the origins of Mothering Sunday, with its links to Marian feast days, and Laetare Sunday

20 March 2014 by Diana Klein

St Francis showed us how to embody the Gospel, and ‘preach it at all times’,even when we are not proclaiming it. For those with learning disabilities, this opens up immense possibilities for non-verbal catechesis.

13 March 2014 by Diana Klein

St Francis showed us how to embody the Gospel, and ‘preach it at all times’,even when we are not proclaiming it. For those with learning disabilities, this opens up immense possibilities for non-verbal catechesis

06 March 2014 by Paul Turner

With the start of Lent, people preparing to become Catholics will be attending the Rite of Election at cathedrals around the world. It marks the final stage in their formation which ends with reception into the Church at Easter

06 March 2014

Christ’s suffering was manifold: physical torture from the crown of thorns to the agony of a Roman crucifixion, humiliation from mockery and jeers, temptation from those who urged him to prove himself by coming down from the cross

27 February 2014 by Tom Grufferty

This Lent, consider making a journey of faith on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Without leaving home, you can walk with others, join with them in prayer, and share bread and Rioja wine, guided by the narrative of an extraordinary movie

20 February 2014 by Louise Cooke

The emphasis of the Francis papacy has been on the poor, the sick and the outcasts. There are many ways that Justice and Peace groups can embrace this ‘agenda’ for the good of all

13 February 2014 by James Leachman

Each generation in a Catholic parish is likely to be different from the next in its origins, culture and outlook. Communities must also adapt in accordance with the gifts that newcomers bring

06 February 2014 by Tom Grufferty

A pilgrimage is more than simply a spiritual experience. It is an opportunity to harmonise with nature, enjoy dialogue with fellow beings and take in local history. What is more, it can happen on your doorstep

30 January 2014 by Tom Grufferty

A pilgrimage is more than simply a spiritual experience. It is an opportunity to harmonise with nature, enjoy dialogue with fellow beings and take in local history. What is more, it can happen on your doorstep

23 January 2014 by Joanna Vials

Reflecting on the Catholic story was an aim of the Year of Faith. In one community it inspired the writing of a guidebook, spreading the Good News of faith and the delights of a historic church building at the same time

16 January 2014 by Diana Klein

The Bishop of Portsmouth has suggested that some Catholics see the Church as a service provider, and that this needs to change. Here, a catechetical adviser sets out how this can be done

09 January 2014 by Peter Michael Scott

It is vital that children who need a stay in hospital do not feel alone and abandoned. As well as being with them as much as possible, parents should let them know that Jesus is always by their side

02 January 2014 by Bernard Cotter

Planning might not make perfect, but it certainly improves the chances of success. With a little forethought, current practices can be improved, new initiatives introduced and new talents brought on board

19 December 2013 by Aidan Peter Rossiter

When we mark the moment of the Word made flesh, we should also recall the richness of all the feasts that are part of Christmastide

12 December 2013 by Tim Harford

Christingle is a chance to engage children in ritual and symbolism, from preparing oranges to understanding the meaning of the candles as illumination taken out to others

05 December 2013 by Joseph O’Hanlon

The three-yearly cycle of the lectionary begins again this Sunday with a return to the gospel of Matthew, who from the Nativity narrative to the Resurrection reveals a Messiah and a teacher

28 November 2013 by Joseph O’Hanlon

The three-yearly cycle of the lectionary begins again this Sunday with a return to the gospel of Matthew, who from the Nativity narrative to the Resurrection reveals a Messiah and a teacher