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Our Servers. Readers & Eucharistic ministers all encourage others to fuller participation in the Mass. Parishioners, in particular women, should be officially appointed to the ministries of Reader and Eucharist. Is there a place for more lay-led celebrations in which parishioners could come together to reflect, for instance, on the Sunday readings? 

The Mass is a celebration with others alongside our celebration with the Lord. Gathering for Mass brings us together as a community. How do we encourage more active participation by families? Do the demands of work and family prevent this? How do we bring our celebration out of the church and into the world? 

Lockdown did have some positive benefits – it helped us realise that we were missing something good when we couldn’t attend Mass; it gave more time for us to reflect and pray; we became more aware of the beauty of this God-given world. 

Mass gives us a clearer focus — we can see the Lord more clearly in the Eucharist, in others and in ourselves. Our understanding of the Scriptures deepens. There is a sense of renewal and willingness to reach out to others. 

Bigotry and sectarianism have sharply declined but, alongside that, religion is rarely a topic of conversation with non-Catholic friends and family. 

There is ecumenical work in our town – Streetlevel, joint services, World Day of Prayer, Christian Aid. Scouts, CHOICES shop. Good progress has been made but it could be seen as superficial. Could more be done together especially in the work of evangelisation? Together we could have a stronger Christian voice – there is more that unites than divides. We must focus on what we agree on rather than where we differ. We can learn from other churches especially regarding synodality. 

Do we need a different model of being church especially in the light of child abuse? Gov- ernance is all top-down, and all by men. A priest coming newly into a parish can abolish the parish structures on his own authority. Everything is too priest-dependent. This needs to change. The role of women must be expanded.
Have we become a middle-class Church so that unintentionally others feel excluded? Every- one is involved in the work of encouraging and reaching out, ready to promote and explain our faith. Sometimes when help is offered the priest it is refused and this can cause lasting hurt. 

The parish retreat was a good experience of participation but it wasn’t followed through. What are the ways to involve the wider parish community? 

All of us need to discern together the “signs of the times.” Often society moves more quick- ly than the Church with the result that the Church looks left behind on certain issues eg women, sexuality, injustice. 

There is some division in the Church at present crystallised in pro- and anti- Pope Francis. 

We know that change is needed but it is difficult to know where to start at parish level. But already in these weeks, people feel that they have been given a voice and have the confidence to speak. As we proceed, it will be important to have clear structures which invite the people to participate and to develop team-work. A clearer idea that all are the church, not just the clergy, will foster co-responsibility. From this will emerge that every individual has gifts which must be recognised and used. Succession planning is also needed as priest and parishioners move on. The role of the Parish Pastoral Council needs reviewing. 

Partnership, co-responsibility, team-work, participation were all key-words which emerged.