The ‘Year of Faith’ declared by Pope Benedict began in earnest in October 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II. How many of us remember that day?
Many events and activities are likely to emerge as the year goes by, all of them aimed at strengthening the faith of all Catholics. The year is paticularly aimed at rekindling the faith of those who, for whatever reason, no longer practice their faith.
It will be a challenging year for us all, but it will be a year that presents us with opportunities for pushing ourselves to develop our understanding of our own, individual faith. It will also help us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the basis of our beliefs and practices as Catholic followers of Jesus Christ. The Pope calls it ‘the New Evangelisation’. That ‘E’-word is scary for most of us, even though it is what Jesus challenges us to do, each time we are dismissed from Mass.
I can remember one parish priest, Fr Joe Phelan (RIP), who used to challenge us in his congregation by saying, “What’s the point of being an adult with only a child’s understanding of our faith and religion?” In other words, why do many of us stop our formal learning when we left behind RE lessons as we left school or, for some, as we left primary school. Maybe that’s a question we need to be asking ourselves now, so that we can begin to think about what ‘concrete’ and ‘specific’ things we need to organise and do so that we can start learning again.
We will be inundated with information, there is little doubt of that. But it is a great opportunity to learn more, to re-start our religious education. There is already an amazing amount of information on websites around the world.
If you want to dip your toe into the water, the Lancaster Diocese website is a good place to start – http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/Groups/187799/The_Diocese_of/The_Catholic_Faith/The_Year_of/The_Year_of.aspx
There is a series of pages – under the banner of “Year of Faith – Seeking the Face of Jesus” – with suggestions of what we might do as parishes, schools, families, and individuals. There’s also a good ‘Links’ page that will take you to Vatican information and to other international and national sources of information.
Bishop Michael sent out letters to all Parish Priests AND to all Parish Pastoral Council chairpersons. He asked a long series of questions about how we are progressing with the aims declared by parishes in their responses to Bishop Patrick’s challenges in the ‘Fit For Mission’ review. He also asked us to say what ‘concrete’ and ‘specific’ things we will be doing in our parishes during the Year of Faith itself. He doesn’t want to know what ideas we have, but what real actions we will take.
Our responses went to the Bishop around the end of October 2012. The Bishop and his Year of Faith team have the onerous job of reading, digesting, and responding to all of the responses they have received. That may take some time.
In the meantime , you may be asked for your help: it will be needed. The Parish Councils alone cannot decide what the parish should do or organise everything that has to happen.
Please, don’t wait to be asked or wait for other people to do things. Be brave and come forward to offer your help or tell us what you want to happen.
There will be more news on these items later – and probably a separate web-page will appear to cover all aspects of the Year of Faith.
If you want to know more or become actively involved then please contact Fr Bernard or your PPC Chairs – John Newby at Sacred Heart and John Sharpe at Saint Columba with St Patrick’s