Divine Renovation: what is it?
In 2014, a priest of the Archdiocese of Halifax, Fr. James Mallon, wrote a book which presented to the reader the collected wisdom of his several years in parish ministry. Fr. Mallon had a vision for what parish life could be like; he introduced many programs and pastoral plans to his parishioners, and each of these met with greater or lesser success in achieving his vision. Gradually he developed a strategy which he believed would work. He called this strategy Divine Renovation.

Divine Renovation is not a new program or project in the Church in Canada. It is grounded in the call made by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI for a New Evangelization which invites each Catholic to renew his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. The New Evangelization is for the baptized members of the Church to deepen their faith and reach out to other Christians in deep need of a new encounter with Christ.

Working from Jesus’ instructions to the apostles at the time of his Ascension, to “go and make disciples,” Fr. Mallon and the staff at St. Benedict’s invite the parishioners to know Christ in a new and deeper (more personally and faith-centered) way. They offer instruction, catechesis, and faith development so their parishioners will be prepared to take what they have received and share it with others.

In June of 2016, I attended a conference hosted by St. Benedict Parish in Halifax, where with 600+ participants, I heard Fr. Mallon and his parish team present Divine Renovation. More than a parish program, Divine Renovation is about the parish as a whole and each parishioner living the gospel and being a community in new and dynamic ways.

Divine Renovation at St. Patrick Parish
I introduced Divine Renovation to the Pastoral and Finance Councils in September 2016. In January 2017, in addition to the regular agenda, the members of the Pastoral Council and I read Fr. Mallon’s book and completed the study guide questions. Our goal was to identify any areas within our parish structure or community that might be in need of some divine renovating. While the overall assessment was positive, we recognized that there were some elements of parish life that were missing or needed strengthening.
With this new knowledge and having been inspired by the possibility of pastoral and personal renewal in our parish, the Council embarked on the preliminary steps toward implementing Divine Renovation at St. Patrick Parish. We began by identifying our hopes for what our parish could be and what it would take to make those hopes a reality. From these, we worked to create a Vision Statement and a Purpose Statement for the parish. These two statements are important as they become the ultimate goal toward which all our parish plans, projects, and priorities are directed, that is, fulfilling the Purpose and Vision Statements.

We then took up the important and challenging task of identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) in the five systems of parish life: Liturgy, Evangelization, Discipleship, Community, and Ministry. Once we knew these identified, we set about creating a Five-Year Plan for the parish. Each strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat would be addressed within that five-year period, and again, with the goal of achieving the parish vision.

The Five-Year Plan and Moving Forward
In June 2018, the Pastoral Council completed the Five-Year Plan and with that, Divine Renovation at St. Patrick’s was a reality. In July and August, I invited members of the parish to become part of the Leadership Team. This group meets on a weekly basis to create practical steps for achieving the specific goals identified by the Pastoral Council. The members of this Team are Heather Ayotte, Lucy Gorman, Cathy Enright, and Sandy Duff.

As I mentioned earlier, Divine Renovation is not a project or a program that a parish undertakes with an end date in mind (six months, five years, etc.). Divine Renovation is an ongoing way of being a parish community, deepening our relationship to Jesus Christ, and reaching out with the gospel to our brothers and sisters who have not yet had a personal encounter with Christ.

What we have accomplished at St. Patrick Parish

Purpose Statement: To create and nurture a community with one another, fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ to make disciples.

Vision Statement: St. Patrick Parish is a vibrant and engaged faith community committed to building up one another in Christ. We are nourished by the sacraments, and our shared service to one another and the wider community.

The Game Plan (what we do to achieve the Vision for the Parish)

Liturgy: “Fostering full, active, and conscious participation in the Sunday celebration, our parish lives the Eucharist as the source and summit of all we do as the People of God.

Evangelization: “Awakening parishioners to the beauty and riches of our Catholic faith, our parish, through adult faith formation (including workshops, seminars, and retreat days), deepens the personal encounter with Christ for parishioners and the whole community.

Discipleship: “Inviting parishioners to liturgical celebrations and social events, our parish forms the members of the community in prayer and fellowship for the common good.

Community: “Welcoming with intentionality, our outreach ministries support seniors and engage young people with the gospel message of hope and joy in an often troubled and difficult world.

Ministry: “Building on the strengths and gifts of each parishioner, our parish is a place of welcome and acceptance for those seeking a new or renewed encounter with Christ and an experience of life giving and enriching community of faith.”

The Five-Year Plan

September 2018 – June 2023

Five Systems Goals 2018-2019 2019–2020 2020–2021 2021–2022 2022–2023

Liturgy
Strength

Evangelization
Strength
Liturgy
Threat
Ministry
Opportunity
Evangelization
Opportunity

Liturgy
Weakness

Liturgy
Opportunity
Evangelization
Threat
Community
Weakness

Discipleship
Opportunity

Community
Opportunity

Discipleship
Weakness
Discipleship
Strength
Evangelization
Weakness

Community
Threat

Ministry
Weakness
Community
Strength
Ministry
Strength
Discipleship
Threat

Ministry
Threat

2018-2019

Liturgy Strengths – Foster greater participation in the Sunday celebration by all parishioners, with special attention to encouraging youth and children’s involvement in the liturgy.

Liturgy Weakness – Create a means by which non-weekly parishioners are included and known, i.e. bulletin announcements of those celebrating sacraments.

Community Opportunity – Formation of a Welcoming Committee for new parishioners; increase sense of community at Sunday Mass.

Ministry Weakness – Increase the number of pastoral ministries and equip parishioners to be leaders in the community.  Improve communication at all parish levels.

The specifics of the following years will be in future newsletters.

2018-11-07T15:16:38+00:00