'We should all take the time to write down a one-page description of a future of our diocese, parish or ministry that excites us. Do not be distracted by the obstacles and challenges; just write down your dream…..Once you have written down your vision statement, write down your own personal purpose statement that will define your ministry (in one sentence).'
Having read Divine Renovation for the first time back in late April/early May 2016, recently I have been re-reading it as time permits. Having got to the part (above) in Chapter 7, it looks like a good exercise to do even though I know there is no visible hope of seeing it happen.
Here goes: a blue-sky wish list for my parish.
I want to see Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament begun and kept going, so that at any time of the day or night there are at least two people praying in the Blessed Sacrament chapel providing the open doors so that anyone, whoever they are, can have access to the Heart of Jesus when they are in distress.
I want to see the 30 minutes prior to the start of Vigil Mass on Saturdays as a time of testimonies from regular attendees at that Mass and prayers. To get a car park in the church grounds people have to arrive 30 minutes before anyway. That would give time for 2 x 10 minute testimonies. The first one sharing about what God's grace has done in his or her life. The second one sharing about the ministry/career/vocation that God called them to, how they found it and what good things are happening in that ministry/career/vocation. The remaining 10 minutes would have prayer teams out in the gathering area for anyone who wanted prayer for a special intention.
I want to see a social media ministry active and effective. It would be a ministry with several parts. One part would be dedicated to teaching people how to use social media for soft evangelization. Another part would be dedicated to regularly and consistently producing parish based 'good news' content: getting the photos and the stories from parish events and from parish people. A third part would be collecting and sharing the best Catholic content online each week. The final part would be assisting and supporting parishioners in sharing their own faith journey online via blogs etc.
I want to see intercession as a top priority across the board. For starters at least 10 minutes of prayer prior to the start of any meeting – be it parish council, finance committee, liturgy team, children's ministry, study groups, Lenten groups etc. Using prayer that includes scripture, begging God's blessing and guidance upon the meeting's activities, and praying for the people that the meeting serves. Without the power of God we can do nothing.
I want to see at least one prayer group operating each week, where people are free to come and pray their hearts out in whatever manner they wish: A prayer group that prays specifically for the parish as a whole and for each individual or family who asks for prayers: A place where people are free to dance and sing, to sob and groan, to kneel and beg, to call on God to act in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones, and to learn how to praise and thank Him too.
I want to see new forms of parish outreach to the community develop. It might start with once a month setting up a table in the local shopping centre and at the once a month market days and car-boot sales days that happen locally.
I want to see religious art with evangelistic potential celebrated. All too often I have art shows billed as religious art with barely anything worthy of the name on display. Subject matter would have to be directly inspired by Scripture, the Catechism or the Lives and Writings of the Saints. Twice a year the parish could have a regular booking with the regional art gallery for exhibition space. Then the artists (poets, illustrators, fine artists, printmakers, fabric banner designers, quilters, ceramic artists, sculptors, animators etc) with the most potential to bring people to Jesus with their creative talents could be invited to set up a display of their work, one artist per one weekend a month in the gathering area of the parish church.
I want to see people in the pews discovering the God given talents they have been given, and assisted to find creative ways of using them to help bring others to Jesus. Regular offerings of Clifton StrengthsFinder groups and discussions with trained coaches would make that happen.
I want to see the rest happen too: car park ministry; outside the doors of the church welcoming ministry (in addition to the inside the doors of the church welcoming ministry); sacramental preparation that evangelizes and converts; youth groups that really produce missionary disciples; homilies that actually touch the heart and draw listeners closer to God; encouragement of devotional practices; greater inclusion and access for those with autism, lower mobility, reduced sight and hearing abilities etc.
Yes, that was one A4 page worth.
My personal purpose?
The short answer is, I don't know.
Although I have more clues than at any previous time in my life, I cannot yet see how it is all supposed to come together – and that's despite working on it and bringing it to prayer for the last 9 months.
Fr Mallon's personal purpose statement went like this:
"To be a catalyst for the renewal of my parish and of the broader Church."
Over to you. Do some dreaming and some writing of your own.
Then as Fr Mallon suggests, if you are in leadership, share it and get feedback on it and refine it.