2014-09-18 16:19:00

Home Mission Sunday: sharing the faith in England and Wales

(Vatican Radio) As bishops and pastoral care experts meet here in the Vatican this week at an international gathering organised by the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, the Church in England and Wales is gearing up for its own special event aimed at stepping up evangelisation efforts within its own dioceses.

Home Mission Sunday is celebrated in the UK on September 21st with a special focus this year on reaching out to people through the family. With recent research suggesting that up to 80% of Catholics in England and Wales rarely or never attend Mass, the bishops are urging their parishioners to use Home Mission Sunday as a chance to invite friends and relatives back into the family of the Church.

Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth is a member of the bishops conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis. Philippa Hitchen talked to him about this annual initiative and about some creative new ideas for sharing the faith in England today….


Bishop Mark says that, inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis and his predecessors, we increasingly understand that the call to evangelise is "not just for abroad, for foreign countries" but it is a call to "witness to the good news of Jesus Christ to our own neighbourhoods and our own communities".

Evangelisation, he says, means finding creative new ways of reaching out to three groups of people: firstly,to the committed Catholics, so that we can deepen our faith and bear witness to it with confidence. Secondly, to the lapsed Catholics "who no longer believe that Jesus has anything to say to them". And thirdly to those who have never heard or who no longer understand what the good news of the Gospel means for them.

Bishop Mark goes on to talk about projects taking place in England, including a pilot programme in the north of England reaching out to families who've grown away from the Church and another one working with parents who send their children to Catholic schools.... 

Finally he talks about an innovative project in his own diocese called 'Night Fever' where a church opens on a Friday or Saturday night and volunteers go out in the streets to invite people in for a moment of quiet reflection as they head out to the clubs and bars.....

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