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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Portsmouth: lay venture reaches world audience
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¬†One of the most popular spiritual websites based in the UK - which began as a 'kitchen sink' project - has celebrated its fourth birthday recently. Wellsprings at: was created in the corner of a family room by two Catholic lay-women, Catherine McElhinney and Kathryn Turner, who wanted to explore new ways of spreading the Gospel using new technologies. The site now offers hundreds of pages of resources without charge to users - just a request to acknowledge Wellspring's copyright. There is material for personal reflection on the Sunday Gospels and other areas of Christian spiritual life. The site also has liturgies that can be downloaded and adapted for use in a wide variety of circumstances. Catherine is a deputy head in a Catholic primary school near Portsmouth. Kathryn is a freelance writer for the Redemptorists and edits the Catholic diocesan newspaper, Portsmouth People. Both are active in the liturgical and spiritual life of their parish and Kathryn is a member of the Diocesan Spirituality Development Group. They are currently working alongside a parish in Jersey to develop a Lectionary-based First Communion programme and providing material for States, Schools catechists there. Kathryn said: "We remember the thrill when we received our first e-mail from an American visitor to the site - and still get a twinge of excitement when we see visitors from as far away as Australia and the United States. We know too of catechists in a parish in the Philippines who use our material because they are unable to afford to buy books." She explained: "Visitors represent all the main Christian denominations - people of other faiths - and none." Perhaps the most esoteric, though, was the Sufi who wrote to say that he used the online wellspring as a source for reflection. Around a million people have now visited the site - and the demand for the material seems likely to continue as more lay people take responsibility for faith development, prayer and liturgies. Several ministers from other denominations have also contacted Wellspring to say how helpful they have found the site. The name 'Wellspring' derives from a visit to Taizť in 1994 where, by the lake La Source St Etienne (St Stephen's Wellspring) the embryonic ideas that were to become Wellspring began to emerge.
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