Planning Ahead

Now is the time of year we make next year’s plans. Already we have umpteen First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA dates in the diary. We’re creating programmes for formation of parents next year. We’re scheduling a “vision evening” for catechists to impart the vision for our parish’s catechesis for the year ahead.

Can I be really honest here? I hate scheduling dates. It is such a complicated process. First, you check the liturgical year. Next, you’ve got all the school holidays, half-terms, inset days. I find myself flicking between three different school websites. Then, you have to work out, like a crazily complex jigsaw, which programme will fit on which night, given available venues and catechist availability. Then you discover you’ve booked two parents’ sessions for two different programmes on the same night. A certain speaker you would like for one night can only make the following month when you’ve already booked someone else. Even when everything is finally set in stone, and you come closer to the different dates you set, people will drop out with a little bit of notice, even though you scheduled the date a decade ago.

There’s a difficult balance to strike. On the one hand, parents need all dates well in advance. On the other hand, I think that too much planning can stifle the real work that is going on here, the action of the Holy Spirit. Do we schedule multiple meetings for RCIA sponsors, or do we wait until it seems it would be fruitful for everyone to get together? How do we safeguard as much as possible the precious time of our volunteers?

Mundane and tedious questions, perhaps, but I think this is an important area to get right, if we really value those who serve in our parish. Through our natural gifts and human wisdom, the Holy Spirit can work by bestowing supernatural gifts and fruitfulness. Yet, while we use our human gifts to the best of our ability, we have to give space for the Holy Spirit to work. Perhaps our RCIA candidates will not be ready to become Catholic by next Lent, and we will have no one go through the liturgical rites. Who knows?! We cannot forecast too precisely how the Holy Spirit will work in our parish this year… Are we open to what he will do?

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

4 responses to “Planning Ahead

  • Elisabeth

    You mention formation programmes for parents. We would like to help our First Holy Communion parents more. Do you, or anyone else, have any suggestions for a programme with parents, say one evening a month, while the children’s preparation classes are going on (on a Saturday morning).Secondly, have you tried ‘Wednesday Word’ in your parish? We would like to launch in September. Thanks. Elisabeth

    • transformedinchrist

      Hi Elisabeth. We brainstormed the topics our parents most needed formation in, to help them be first educators of their children. We are running one session a month with guest speakers. Some will be more spiritual formation, and take place in the church. The topics include – ‘Busy Family Life – Is Faith Possible?’, ‘Practical Ways to Hand on the Faith at Home’, ‘How to Pray: How this will make a difference for you and your child’, Guide to Confession, including a Reconciliation Service for parents before the children’s First Confessions, ‘How to get the most out of Mass for you and your child’ and ‘How to continue helping your child grow in faith’. The whole series begins with a talk on parents as “first teachers” which is compulsory, as well as an initial evangelisation talk, ‘Living Faith in Christ.’ After that, we encourage them to come to all the others, but at least, a minimum of two others.
      I haven’t heard of Wednesday Word! It would be interesting to hear about it!
      Best wishes, Hannah

      • Elisabeth

        Dear Hannah, thank you for your very helpful reply. The meeting topics sound great – where do you get your guest speakers from?

        When you have a moment, take a look at http://www.wednesdayword.org – if you the click on ‘parents and carers’ you will see the resource I am interested in for our parish. I think it could be helpful for families and get them to look at and discuss the following Sunday’s gospel. Very cheap too, and not rubbishy. £5 per 100 copies per week.

        best wishes, Elisabeth

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