A parish’s ability to evangelize hinges on inclusion. When families do not find a place for their children to belong in church it often means the adults are excluded too. Laura states “you are limiting who you can evangelize to if you don’t provide something for kids.” She continues, a parish needs to ask itself, “who are we trying to reach? And what are their barriers for coming? And how can we mitigate that? And children’s ministry is a big one.”
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, August marks the peak of summer, a time when many–including priests– schedule their “break.”
But this rest can often equal a burn-out coma or an overscheduled “holiday” only to return to the same hamster-wheel pace.
Father Peirluigi Vajra CRS, a DR coached Parish Priest at Our Lady of Lourdes in Perth, Australia, shares his journey in experiencing rest as something more than just “not-working”. Like many priests – his workload is great, and rest does not come easily. But in his 28 years as a priest, he has come to recognize the profound value of prioritizing rest.
This Easter four adults will be baptized at St. Willibrord Parish in Montreal, Canada. A parish that just a year ago was described as “palliative” – dwindled down to 20 parishioners – is now teeming with new life.
Over the last year, St. Willibrord’s new pastor Fr. Robert Assaly and Fr. Mike Leclerc, (the Pastor of thriving parish St. Ignatius of Loyola), created one of the most innovative, and evangelistic parish initiatives in the Catholic Church – a missionary partnership between their two parishes.
This partnership has borne tremendous fruit. There are now 120-30 people at weekend Mass at St. Willibrord. Dozens have had their faith reignited.
A group from St. Agnes Parish in Thunder Bay is currently helping run an Alpha… in another Parish. What started as a small group attending DR 2016 in Halifax has grown into a full blown parish renewal that is now spilling over into neighbouring parishes in their city. “We are being the catalyst to bring that into the city… the real dream would be to see our whole diocese on fire.”
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.
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…
Fr. Mark was first exposed to DR when he was in the seminary studying theology, diving into the distinctions between evangelization and catechesis. He was gathering many perspectives as he contemplated how to really make Jesus known.
DR “was for me a no-brainer, this is the way we’ve got to go, mission-oriented church and we have great mentors to rely on. It’s like oh, okay, how is there anything bad here? How could we possibly say no?”
“I don’t usually talk this much” Father Tony says with a smile, a man whose quiet, unassuming nature is animated by his love for evangelization.
He began working with Divine Renovation four years ago after reading Father James Mallon’s book Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish. Soon after he connected through Kickstart, then Traction where he is now coached by DR’s Rob McDowell. In his move from maintenance to mission Father Tony is confident, “The Holy Spirit is guiding; I can tell you that it is a good decision.”