It’s time to face facts. Time to work together. Time to plan for a new and better future …
With an appeal to ‘put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch’ Archbishop Nolan has launched the ‘Looking to the Future’ initiative, designed to equip the Church in Glasgow to be a vibrant community of outreach and support in coming years.
Representatives of parishes gathered in the Cathedral last month to hear the challenges and learn of what is expected of them in terms of planning for the future.
Five ‘Deanery Councils’ have been set up to find local solutions to local challenges. These councils will be made up of a priest and lay person from each parish, and over the next six weeks will be asked to make an initial recommendation on three areas.
- How can each deanery best evangelise in its local area?
- How can parishes in a local area collaborate better?
- What would be the best use of resources of buildings and priests in each local area?
The lifespan of the Deanery Councils is however more than six weeks. They are a permanent body and the driving force for change over the next few years. It is hoped that they will produce ideas for evangelization in the months and years to come.
Archbishop Nolan said: “We have to ask ourselves, ‘what is Jesus asking of us here and now?’ and the answer is found in his last words spoken on this earth – ‘go out to the world and spread the good news’.
“Pope Francis outlines three focuses for evangelization … the care of those already committed, engagement with those who are lapsed, and outreach to those who do not believe.
“In my time as a priest we have been good at the first two areas. We care well for the community of faith, we try to bring back those who have drifted away… but we don’t focus much on the third area – reaching out to those who have not been touched by faith.
“We need to focus more on this. We need to be a Church which reaches out to those who do not yet believe.
“To do that we have to consider our resources. We have plenty of buildings, but we are not here to maintain buildings! We have to ask ourselves if so many buildings with all the attendant costs and time required to maintain them are holding us back. Could our resources be better spent on evangelization?
“We have to face these challenges together. We have to plan for a situation with fewer priests so that means lay people sharing the workload and responsibility for planning and for change.
“We can respond to the challenges we face by working together. The sea ahead may seem stormy sometimes, but Jesus is there, always with us.”