FIRST FAMILY GATHERINGS BRING TOGETHER PARISHIONERS
Update provided by the Laity Education and Formation Team in the Department of Missionary Strategic Planning
The goal of the Family Gatherings is to provide the lay faithful a better understanding of their role in a Family of Parishes. Several of the Wave 1 parishes have already completed their First Gathering. The theme of the First Gathering is ‘Encounter’ — in which members of the Family are introduced to the parishes and each other. Parishioners from all the parishes in the Family have the opportunity to get to know one another and to encounter Jesus through new relationships as brothers and sisters.
It has been a gift to see that many parishioners are open to the concept of Families of Parishes and having the opportunity to get to know the members of the other parishes in their family. During the First Gathering there is a breakout session during which parishioners come together in small groups to share what they love most about their parish.
One of the recurring messages echoed during the breakout sessions has not only been an enthusiasm about one’s own parish, but a true welcoming spirit to work with other parishes in their family. Participants in the gatherings seem to genuinely enjoy hearing about the many programs, events, and ministries other parishes have, and already see the benefits of coming together as a Family, sharing their gifts and talents. The parishioners see the many potential benefits of the Families of Parishes model, including becoming more aware of the community with whom they share a common bond of faith.
During a recent Family Gathering breakout session parishioners were eager to share what their parish does well, but equally interested in what other parishes were doing and how they can all work together and support each other in various ministries. A true sense of community is already forming. Here are a few comments from one of our first Family Gatherings:
Denis: “It was interesting to learn more about Mass times and activities at other parishes”
Rebecca said it was a really nice experience getting to hear what the other parishes have to offer. It will be nice when we can get together and see one another in person.
Joyce shared that she looks forward to inviting people from other parishes to their parish and even bringing those who need a ride.
Joe expressed his appreciation for what individual parishes can offer and all the things they do.
The Family Gatherings intend to inform parishioners and generate familiarity and involvement with the process of the transition to Families of Parishes.