London parish holds celebration for all ministries

Steve Bethell, from the parish of St Peter in Chains, Finsbury Park, north London, writes:

As I am sure happens in every parish, each year we invite our Eucharistic Ministers to come together, in our case at the evening Mass to mark the beginning of the 40 hours Exposition, to be re-commissioned in their important ministry.

However, as St  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, we all, though different, form part of the Body of Christ and all those parts are necessary to the functioning of the body and we had become increasingly uncomfortable that, by recognising one specific ministry in this way, we could be seen as regarding it as somehow more important than other service given in the parish.

Having scratched our heads about how to overcome this, the solution, in the end, was simple. We identified, as far as possible, the individuals in all the groups in the parish who carry out some form of ministry to the parish whether it is liturgical, pastoral, spiritual or practical – from Musicians to Cleaners via the Soup Run and Catechists. We wrote inviting them personally to the Mass as well as putting invitations in the newsletter, knowing that we did not have all the names.

After the homily, all the ministers were asked to stand – and there must have been over 100 people standing. Using a modified version of the text we used for the Eucharistic Ministers, everyone renewed their commitment to their chosen ministries and was re-commissioned by the PP to continue for a further year. Everyone had been asked to complete a card giving the details of their ministries and at the end of the commissioning everyone was asked to bring their card and place it before the altar; their service symbolically becoming part of the offerings brought to the Eucharistic table. The cards remained through the 40 hours Exposition and the weekend masses celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ as a visible sign to the parish.

Feedback was positive and this will now become an annual event. In the autumn, we hope to renew our focus on the talent in our parish. At the beginning of the year we ran a Planned Giving campaign and in the autumn we hope to do something similar but, instead of asking people to reflect on what they give in monetary terms, get them to reflect on and celebrate the talents God has given them and ask them whether there is some way that they could offer some of their time and talents to the parish. Part of the campaign will, we hope, be a re-run of a parish ‘Open Day’  - part bring-and-share lunch and part ‘Freshers’ fair’ where all the parish groups have a stall. People can find out more about what goes on and, if they want to, join the group.

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