As our Journey From Parish to Mission continues, Greg Finn who lives in the Halifax Deanery and teaches at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary Academy in Huddersfield, is one of the newly-trained facilitators for the Parish Prayer and Listening Sessions. After the second of two training sessions at Hinsley Hall, Greg sends this update:
On Saturday 23 October, it was wonderful to join more than seventy other co-ordinators at Hinsley Hall for our second of two training days. We were once again treated to an inspiring day of talks and activities. It was a great blessing to welcome Fr Adrian Porter SJ and Fr Roger Dawson SJ to lead us. The wisdom and expertise they have shared will no doubt prove invaluable as we disperse across the diocese and help guide the synodal listening process in parishes.
The morning session began with a presentation from Fr Adrian on listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He drew upon the teachings of St Ignatius of Loyola and helped us understand how better to create a sacred space for discernment.
Fr Roger then led a session which introduced the questions which will be raised in parishes, and he modelled how to ‘listen to understand rather than to respond.’ He demonstrated ways to draw clear and concise answers from individuals around the room and how to record them accurately. The morning concluded beautifully with the Examen, as we prayerfully reflected on where we discerned God’s presence in our life so far that day and looked forward to where we might find His Spirit at work in us tomorrow.
On returning after lunch, the layout of the meeting room had been altered. Chairs were moved to allow for an exemplar listening session to take place. The Jesuit and diocesan teams led the session with the help of some volunteers. They demonstrated how to co-ordinate a parish listening group and to see this played out was extremely helpful for everyone.
All that then remained was for Jessica Wilkinson and Fr Martin Kelly to explain the practicalities of the diocesan listening stage, which will happen throughout November. Co-ordinators were split into teams of three and were allocated parishes to visit.
From my own perspective, the two training days have been extremely well planned, informative and prayerful. There is a consensus among those heading out into the parishes that we feel confident and well prepared to facilitate the listening process. We thank Bishop Marcus and his team for their hard work. At the outset of our training, the Bishop explained how he, like every person in our diocese, will listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure I speak for all of the co-ordinators when I say that we were grateful that he gave up so much of his time to accompany us over these two weeks.
As information is distributed to parishes this week, we hope and pray that the Holy Spirit encourages great numbers to take part in this listening process. It is a chance for all in our local Church to come together with open hearts. Led by the Holy Spirit we have a wonderful opportunity to help guide our Church forward. As Pope Francis encouraged when he opened the Synod this month, we will look to ‘encounter, listen and discern’ and it will be a ‘time to encounter the Lord and one another.’
The next step on this Journey together is ‘Over to YOU!’ Watch your own parish bulletins, website and social media for details of the in-person listening session in YOUR parish – and for more details, watch for further updates on https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/parish-to-mission/ – or email P2M@dioceseofleeds.org.uk