Bringing Our Whole Selves to Worship: A Letter From the UK

Divine Renovation UK provided support for Angela, a parish worship leader from Blessed Hope Parish, Exeter, to attend the One Hope Project Academy this year. Her parish priest, Father Jonathan and their parish have been accompanied by DR for the last three years.

Be Part of History Changing: A Letter From the UK

Divine Renovation Conference 2017 in Twickenham.

This year, 2023, marks five years since Divine Renovation has been operating in the UK. It is amazing to think back to the very first conference at the end of 2017 at St Mary’s Twickenham (who was there?!)…

A Prognosis of Life: A Story from the Netherlands

On Nov. 26th, 2011, a reporter asked the newly appointed Bishop of Breda, Jan Liesen, “Are you the last Bishop of the diocese? Will the Church now finally go to rest and be over with?”
While historically a very Catholic diocese in the Netherlands, now only 1% of self-identifying Catholics attend Mass in Breda. Born in the diocese, Bishop Liesen spent most of his priesthood outside of North Brabant.
In 1968, A decade before he went to seminary, all seminaries in the Netherlands (about 30 in total) closed, including in Breda. This shift had an immediate effect on vocations: in one year, ordination dropped to 0. When Bishop Liesen first felt the call to the priesthood as a young man, he didn’t even know the route to take.

A Shrine Church Casting Off Towards Renewal: A Story from the UK

St. Dominic and Our Lady of the Rosary Shrine is a place of pilgrimage as well as a parish for its locality in Haverstock Hill, London. 17 side chapels and 20 altars make the church bigger than some cathedrals in England. Run by Dominicans, Father Lawrence Lew, OP is the Parish Priest, Rector of the shrine, Prior of the Dominican community, and Promoter General of the rosary.

Focus on the Future: A Story from the UK

In less than a year the parish has set up a SLT and grown in numbers as well as giving; but the real excitement lies in the 6 adult baptisms and 14 confirmations that took place over the weekend at the Easter Vigil. There is a real aliveness emerging in the parish — “I’m excited. There is a proper buzz!”

Father Brendan tells the story of one of the men who was just confirmed: “This guy just turned up one day,” the church was open, and the man was sitting in one of the pews. The man said, “Father may I speak with you?” He introduced himself as Arthur and told Father Brendan he instantly “felt at home when he came to the church.” He was in a program getting clean from narcotics and knew he couldn’t do it on his own, he needed God.

Global2033: A Decade of Evangelization

“The Holy Spirit is initiating something exciting worldwide. We have a chance over the next 10 years to make disciples in our parishes like never before! The potential is huge as many movements and ministries join forces together. The Catholic parish system is the ‘sleeping giant’ in the universal Church and it’s time for us to wake up and invite others to know Christ, 2000 years after the events that changed history forever.”

“Things Had To Change”: A Story from the UK

When Fr Kieron arrived at St.Joseph’s in East Brighton in 2012 he found a parish complacently in maintenance mode. He knew that “if we stayed as we were we would be in terminal decline.”

After reading Evangelii Gaudium, Fr Kieron, decided that “things had to change.”  He consulted a small working group within the parish and suggested that “everything we do from now on has to fit the mission.”

But how to start this change? This question led him to Divine Renovation…

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

Divine Renovation priests from the UK, gathered at a parish together during the celebration of the Holy Mass

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 ).

9 Churches, 1 Mission: A Story from the UK

“We’re in the unenviable situation where we’re one parish but nine locations. So, I’m the pastor to nine churches and I’ve got two assistant priests.”

A friend from seminary passed on the book Divine Renovation: from a Maintenance to a Missional Parish to Father Michael. He then went on to join DR’s group coaching and is now in one-on-one coaching.

This support has helped him guide the renewal of his parish as they move towards mission. He states: “ We give Him [God] all of the finite and he gives us the infinite.”

New Life and a Fresh Heart: A Letter From the UK

Divine Renovation UK undertook a mission last month that was unlike anything we had ever done before. Over two weeks, I travelled together with Matt Regitz (Divine Renovation Leadership Coach) the length and breadth of the UK, visiting parishes, meeting with priests and bishops, and hosting and speaking at events.

It is a trip we will remember forever.