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Moving the Dial on Parish Renewal: A Letter From the UK

One of the leadership phrases we often use in Divine Renovation is: We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in one year, and underestimate what can be achieved in three. When I reflect what God has done in 2022 in parishes throughout the UK, I marvel with some trepidation at what three years might look like!

We are amid a “change of the ages” which means not just years, but decades, of change ahead of us. Even in five years since Divine Renovation UK began, we see the dial moving on parish renewal. Today we are coaching 90 parishes. Some are several years into their journey: they are like beacons, making visible what is possible in parishes in the UK. This year, we shared the stories of the Holy Spirit coming in power at the Alpha Holy Spirit day at St Peter’s Winchester and of Tom Storey’s journey back to the Church through Alpha at St Elizabeth’s Richmond – stories that give encouragement to those who are just setting out on the road (such as All Saints, Newport, who recently sprung into their first ever Alpha ).

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One of the leadership phrases we often use in Divine Renovation is: We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in one year, and underestimate what can be achieved in three. When I reflect what God has done in 2022 in parishes throughout the UK, I marvel with some trepidation at what three years might look like! We are amid a “change of the ages” which means not just years, but decades, of change ahead of us. Even in five years since Divine Renovation UK began, we see the dial moving on parish renewal. Today we are coaching 90 parishes. Some are several years into their journey: they are like beacons, making visible what is possible in parishes in the UK. This year, we shared the stories of the Holy Spirit coming in power at the Alpha Holy Spirit day at St Peter’s Winchester and of Tom Storey’s journey back to the Church through Alpha at St Elizabeth’s Richmond – stories that give encouragement to those who are just setting out on the road (such as All Saints, Newport, who recently sprung into their first ever Alpha ).

When Fr. Sathi first arrived at St. John the Baptist in Estevan, Saskatchewan in 2020 there were 39 people serving in ministries, they now have over 200 people evangelizing with new and revived ministries.  The parish leaders at St. John the Baptist and are clear about the changes that have taken place since focusing on parish renewal and applying Divine Renovation’s 3 keys.  

Sister Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod expounds, “it’s completely missionary focused we can say.” A synodal Church is in communion, participating together for the mission of the Church.

Father Robert and Father Michael are engaged in a first for the Catholic Church in Canada: a missionary partnership. The more than 2 dozen people sent from St. Ignatius two weeks ago are being commissioned to join Saint Willibrord.The missionary partnership is part of a vision to send people out to grow the Church in Montreal and beyond. Since the launch two weeks ago, the St. Ignatius group has become regular parishioners at Saint Willibrord, joining with the faithful remnant that is there. “We don’t want to be life support – we want to be life giving,” says Father Michael. Those that have remained at Saint Willibrord want the same thing and are equal partners with the new parishioners to make the church missional. The goal is to renew the parish and reach Verdun with the love of Jesus. It is a risk. There is no playbook. It might all fail. Father Robert states: “it's either going make or break the parish.” But the goal isn’t just to survive...