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February 25th, 2022

The Parish… from one priest’s perspective

Fr Raffaele

St Swithun Wells Parish

The ‘parish’ is the opportunity to reach people where they live. As we know, in the gospel, Jesus worked and met people where they lived. In an age that puts precedence on the internet and social media, the physical Church, its parish halls and centres, its people coming together in community, answers that human need for ‘encounter’, for human contact, for friendship. This is why the parish life lies at the heart of our diocese and the wider world, and why it will never lose its importance. St Swithun Wells Our parish at St Swithun Wells is quite complex. With 6 churches, covering a huge area, it presents various challenges; each one has its own history and traditions, but this at the same time provides a vibrancy, with possibilities for people to meet each other and bring their own experiences. Christianity is Alive In our parish we have been putting an emphasis on the fact that Christianity is a life. We don’t just want to offer programmes that have a beginning and an end, we want to offer a flavour of the eternity of Christian friendship, so we have been forming groups that target all ages, aimed at all people, whatever stage in the faith they may be, as a place where they can be formed in a sense of authentic community. We have the ‘stars of Abraham’ for primary school, with 60 children involved, ‘grail seekers’ for yrs 7-9, with 40 young people, a year 10+ group as well as many different adult groups, including our monthly families’ get-together with over 20 families. We have also been providing reading and musical activities for our parishioners, to assist them in their daily lives of faith. Finally, we have been encouraging charitable works, particularly among the children, going to care homes and institutions for people who have specific needs, in order for the children to learn what it is to live charity in action. All shapes and Sizes Myself, Fr Luca and Fr Marco, are part of a movement called Communion and Liberation. In our movement we try to live the fact that Christianity is a personal encounter with Christ in a community. This is why we live together as priests in the same house, with a life in common, and is why we try to promote an experience of communion in the different groups and in the parish as a whole. There has been an official group of CL lay members in the parish that started a year ago. It is open to everyone, and a number of parishioners have felt called to join. We meet once a week, reading a text from Fr Luigi Giussani, the founder of the movement, and using the text as a starting point, as a form of inspiration and encouragement, we share our personal experiences of living a life of faith, the challenges, struggles, joys. The witnesses we hear at the moment of sharing are incredibly deep and enriching. I think perhaps the most beautiful thing is that the people who have become involved in this weekly meeting have been growing in their life of faith and in friendship between themselves. In this way they are a witness of joy and happiness in the parish. So we see a wonderful complementarity between parish life and the life of the CL movement, where the one sustains and nourishes the other.