Bishop Richard Launches Diocesan Pastoral Plan - The Word Who is Life
On 18 September, Bishop Richard launched the Diocesan Pastoral Plan to Clergy and Diocesan staff following Mass in Arundel Cathedral.
A video was posted to the main diocesan website. The text is published below:
Dear brothers and sisters,
In September of last year, as you will all remember, I began a series of visits to Deaneries in order to present some thoughts about the future provision for the Diocese. Those presentations led to discussions in parishes and deaneries and at the beginning of this year I travelled round again to listen to the results of those discussions.
These discussions produced a good deal of material and I am very grateful to Clare Wordsworth, from Weybridge, whom I asked to distill the responses into a number of themes.
The responses from the Deaneries have proved very helpful indeed in the formulation of a Pastoral Plan that will, I pray, assist us all in the coming years.
On 18th September, I am presenting the plan to the Clergy of the Diocese and all the staff in the Diocesan offices. Please pray for us all as we gather for this meeting.
I have asked Clare Wordsworth to chair this meeting and Sarah Kilmartin, the Chief Operating Officer for the Diocese, will also give a presentation on the financial implications of the Plan. This model will be repeated when, beginning in October and ending in December, the three of us will visit each Deanery for an open meeting to present the Plan. Please do come to these meetings, for it will be important for us all to engage with the Plan, so that the whole family of the Diocese can work together in the Mission to which we have been called.
The Plan itself falls into two parts. The first part, which outlines the way forward for Prayer, Formation and the Mission of Evangelisation, is the key element of the Plan. It is the Mission that must drive everything that we do and the central offices of the Diocese will, in new ways, support all that we do in the Diocese as we respond to Christ’s call to us.
Much has been said about the number of priests who will serve the Diocese in the future. Alongside the meetings in deaneries, a group of priests - those who will be 65 years old or younger in 2030 – met with me and have continued to meet together for prayer and informal discussion. This is important, since it is this group of clergy who will be carrying much priestly responsibility in the years ahead.
The second part of the document will outline, in broad terms at this stage, the future shape of deaneries and parishes.
With a smaller number of priests, it will be absolutely vital for everyone to listen carefully to the call the Lord give to us and respond wholeheartedly. Every one of us has a part to play in the Mission. We must all deepen our understanding of the Gospel, give more time to prayer and be ready to go out to others with the wonder of Christ’s message.
This is an exciting time for the Diocese. I will not pretend that there will be no challenges and the changes that will need to be made will not be easy. As the family of the Diocese, we cannot remain static. We must work together as we move into the years that lie ahead, focusing our minds and hearts on the work the Lord has given us to do. Many opportunities will open up before us as we grow deeper in our prayer and in our understanding of the gift of Faith.
A prayer card accompanies this Plan for the Diocese. Please join me in praying this prayer every day. Pray for one another, for the priests, deacons and religious who serve in our parishes. Pray for Vocations to Priesthood, Diaconate, Religious Life and for those called to Marriage and dedicated single life. Please pray for me too.
The Lord calls us to be his people and to do great things for Him. May we all respond with generous hearts.
Let us Pray:
Lord, the Word who is Life.
May all the people of our Diocese
grow in openness
to the power of the Holy Spirit,
so that through a growth
in understanding and courage,
and truly open to your call,
we may bear powerful witness
to all around us,
for you are Lord for ever and ever.
With every Blessing,
Richard, your Bishop.
The Bishop will be visiting the Deaneries on the following dates:
9th October Lewes Deanery
11th October Brighton Deanery
12th October Cathedral Deanery
19th October Eastbourne Deanery
6th November Weybridge Deanery
7th November Woking Deanery
8th November Worthing Deanery
19th November Guildford Deanery
4th December Epsom Deanery
10th December Redhill Deanery
11th December Crawley Deanery
13th December St. Leonards Deanery
14th December Mayfield Deanery