08 March 2024, The Tablet

Parish ‘summit’ takes place this summer as Catholic Church plans for Decade of Resurrection

The summit, which takes place in June, aims to inspire a vision of a renewed church that encourages parishes into mission.

Parish ‘summit’ takes place this summer as Catholic Church plans for Decade of Resurrection

Guests of the Alpha Course visiting Westminster Cathedral (file photo).
Catholic Church England and Wales, Flickr

A Catholic parish summit that is the first of its kind takes place this summer to equip priests and parishes with missional leadership skills as the Church begins the build up to 2033 jubilee-style celebrations marking 2000 years since the Resurrection of Christ.

The summit will focus on “the link between the laity and priests”, the organiser has said.

Dr Hannah Vaughan-Spruce, the executive director of Divine Renovation, which is currently connected with about 500 UK Catholic parishes and which coaches priests to help them move “from maintenance to mission”, told The Tablet that this year was chosen due to the run-up to the 2033 celebrations.

The aim is to motivate the clergy to “start a conversation now about parishes over the next 10 years” with the goal of initiating a “positive transformation” of the Catholic Church in the UK. Among the benefits, it is hoped, is helping avoid what Fr David Boyd, parish priest of two parishes in west Scotland, described as “clergy burnout”.

The summit, which takes place from 12-14 June at the Harrogate Convention Centre, aims to inspire a vision of a renewed church that encourages parishes into mission, in light of the decline in Mass attendance and a rise among the religiously disaffiliated.

Dr Vaughan-Spruce said that this is a significant time of change and transformation: “There is not one diocese that is not considering restructuring for the sake of mission”.

Fr Stephen Langridge of St Elizabeth of Portugal in Richmond, London, who will be one of the speakers at the conference, has worked with Divine Renovation for six years. One of the transformative effects on his parish has been to increase the number of young people, through Alpha groups and other evangelistic outreach.

He now coaches other priests and parishes, emphasising the importance of “passion and energy”. A parish should “be a community where people are known and cared for and grow in faith together”, he said.

The 2033 jubilee-style anniversary will be celebrated worldwide. A group called the JC2033 in Switzerland has already started promoting a Decade of Resurrection. The founder, Olivier Fleury, said that it is “an opportunity to draw attention to the heart of the Christian faith and to unite us”.

Archbishop of Cardiff Mark O’Toole is among the senior Church leaders expected to be at the Divine Renovation summit, alongside others including Rev Nicky Gumbel who pioneered the Alpha course at the Church of England’s Holy Trinity Brompton in London, author and Catholic speaker S. Miriam James Heidland SOLT and Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds. Those who attend can expect workshops and prayer through mass and eucharistic adoration.

For further information, visit www.catholicparishsummit.com.

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