Afterglow: A Focus on the Catholic Parish Summit

As attendees make their way home across the UK, Europe, North America and some even as far away as New Zealand, many have reached out to share their stories of what the Holy Spirit began renewing in their hearts last week.

Found: A Focus on Fathers

The subject of Fatherhood – spiritual or biological – often dredges up a convoluted catch of emotions, netted from the depths of our memories. Joy, pain, love, fear, anger or even shame. Whether from healing or hurting, those in the role of “father” in our lives cut deeply into our hearts, forming who we believe ourselves to be as children.

Some of the greatest power of fatherhood lays in its ability to create identity. Like a last name, fatherhood can wrap each individual member of the family in a moniker, identifying those who belong.

But ultimately, earthly fatherhood is a reflection. It is in the Creator that parenthood is defined and in its perfect form. It is from him that our true identity is found.

Leaders of the Faith: A Focus on Mothers

Whether biological, adoptive, or spiritual mentors, the mothers of our faith guide our understanding of God. From Jochebed’s protective plans that saved baby Moses (Exodus 2), to the bravery of  Mary’s “yes” to her divine motherhood (Luke 1), scripture shows examples of mothers with strength, intelligence, and boldness whose witness lead us deeper into our own faith.

This month we reach out and ask priests and parish leaders how mothers have lead them to the faith they have today.

Joyful Renewal: A Story From the Netherlands

Ordained only one year ago, Father Erik is at St. Titus Brandsma in Wageningen, an amalgamated parish (collapsed from 11 churches down to six) in the Netherlands – a country all too familiar with parish decline.

But while in seminary, this young priest read Divine Renovation: Bringing your parish from maintenance to mission, and attended last year’s Missionary Parish Conference in the Netherlands and was determined to enter the priesthood already focused on mission.

Despite entering a dire situation in his region, he is incredibly joyful! He says, “The priesthood brings this happiness to my life.” Through Divine Renovation, he sees the path forward and, with his Pastor, is taking action. They are relying on the Holy Spirit to transform a seemingly hopeless situation to one teeming with possibility.

Finding a Way Forward: A Story From Slovenia

Slovenian priest Father Simon Potnik went to Halifax for the DR18 conference looking for a new way forward in parish renewal. There he saw “for the first time there was a way. The path that I believed in, the logic, was there.” The Divine Renovation principles made sense and offered him hope. 

A Stranger No More: A Story From Slovenia

By the end of high school Father David knew he wanted to become a priest. Knowing his parents wouldn’t approve, the day he decided to tell them he didn’t get up the courage until 1 o’clock in the morning. His father was shocked.

He has now been a priest for 16 years. 

But the difficulty of telling his family his calling would not be the only challenge he would encounter in his priesthood. Slovenia is no stranger to decline, with amalgamations becoming commonplace.

70% of Father David’s pastoral time was devoted to the formation of his youth and yet only 10% of them remained after confirmation. He deeply felt, “No, that is not what priesthood is all about.” This holy discontent led him to search for another way.

Faith of a Child: A Focus on Evangelization

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.”

An Easy Yoke: A Focus on Rest

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.

Why We Give: A Donor Story

Christopher Ryan is a lifelong Catholic. His wife, Yuriko, experienced a conversion 10 years ago. When they read Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish, they both…