Read any church website or newspaper and you will find that one topic is always present. “How do we improve our parish?”
The parish is the basic element of any Christian faith community. St. Paul, the great community builder of the early church, founded parishes in every place he visited and these parishes with their church leadership started other parishes. Today every believer in Jesus Christ must be enrolled in a Parish.
It seems that clergy as well as the members of parishes are always looking for ways in which parish life can be improved. We all know the importance of parish life and the potential for improving it. The Australian Catholic Church has studied parish life in Australia and has asked people what they were looking for in a Vibrant Parish. This is what people want from a “parish”.
The first and foremost element is a parish which has “faith”. A belief in the Risen Christ. This is followed by an actual worship. A prayer life, a liturgy, beautiful singing, a love of God. This leads to a feeling that all present belong to community. Parishes are people driven and members not only feel that they are members, but that they also have a collective responsibility towards the life of the parish, and they are encouraged into greater participation.
People want an open, hospitable, friendly, and down to earth parish where people are enthusiastic and welcoming.
Good parishes are active parishes, where people actively volunteer for various activities. Visitors to good parishes notice the energy, variety, and high levels of involvement in the parish.
Every parish is different and has diverse groups that have various needs. There are people of different cultures and even languages, yet they are all welcome, irrespective of age, class, and culture. There is a desire to welcome even more people who are just becoming members of the Christian community.
A parish is really a “cradle to grave” community. It is a place where people support one another and show them that they are loved.
No, it is not easy being a Vibrant Parish but through faith and prayers it is made easy.